When Leland needed a big pitch, Josh Nashed made it. When the Chargers needed a big play in the field, Nashed did that, too. Nashed also was potent with a bat in his hands, setting a school season record with 49 hits.
But Nashed's crowning achievement came in the final game of his high school career. With the score tied against Bellarmine College Prep in the sixth inning of the Central Coast Section Open Division championship game, Nashed gathered his teammates and told them if they scored a run, he would get the final three outs.
It played out just as Nashed envisioned.
Leland scored in the bottom of the sixth, and Nashed slammed the door in the seventh, giving Leland its first section title in 18 years and cementing Nashed as the Mercury News baseball player of the year.
Described by one coach as "the most impactful player I saw all year," the San Jose State-bound Nashed was at his best during a playoff run that included wins over Palo Alto, Leigh and traditional West Catholic Athletic League powers Valley Christian and Bellarmine.
Nashed moved from third base to pitcher to finish each of the four victories, allowing no runs in 10 innings.
"It was pretty magical, if you think about it," Nashed said last week. "We really stepped up when we had to. It was awesome beating two WCAL teams and two of the top public schools in the first two rounds of CCS. We faced four good programs, and we took care of business."
Nashed hit .462 in the playoffs and .471 overall. In a marathon semifinal against Valley Christian, he hit a two-out double in the top of the ninth and scored the decisive run on Conner DiNaro's single. Nashed then closed out a four-inning relief appearance with a 1-2-3 bottom half of the inning to send Leland to the final.
"It's nice to have a guy like that at the back end of your bullpen," Leland coach Mike Sparrer said.
Nashed pitched only six innings before the playoffs because, as he put it, "I was basically being cautious with my arm, saving it for when it was necessary." He noted that he had arm issues in the past, but it "felt great this year."
He'd get no argument from his opponents. Motivated by its "we are not done" motto, Leland rallied from multiple runs behind in three of its four playoff games. In the one it did not, against Leigh, the Chargers spent the entire game pitching out of jams. Now, Nashed is setting his sights on SJSU. "I love the fact that it's close to home, I love the idea of playing for my hometown team," he said.
All-Mercury News baseball
Kyle Barret, SS,
PAL Bay co-MVP had 41 hits and 27 RBIs, finishing with a .446 batting average. He had 15 doubles and four home runs and scored 23 runs.
Kris Bubic, P, Archbishop Mitty, junior
Stanford commit went 8-2 with a 0.89 ERA, striking out 108 and walking 14 in 71 innings. First-team All-WCAL player also hit .342 as Mitty won a share of league title.
Jack Cleasby, OF, Palo Alto, senior
First-team All-SCVAL De Anza player hit .424 and drove in 36 runs. He finished with 39 hits, including six home runs, two triples and 14 doubles.
John Gavin, P,
St. Francis, senior
WCAL pitcher of year and Cal State Fullerton commit went 8-1 with 100 strikeouts and 0.71 ERA in 782/3 innings, leading St. Francis to a share of league title.
Paul Hall, 1B/P, Leigh, senior
BVAL Mount Hamilton co-MVP hit .418 with 38 hits, including 13 doubles and three home runs, and 27 RBIs. As a pitcher, he had three saves and a win in 261/3 innings.
Theron Kay, P, Valley Christian, senior
First-team All-WCAL and Baylor-bound player had no-hitters against Mitty and San Benito and a 1-hitter against St. Ignatius, finishing with 1.27 ERA.
Andrew Najeeb-Brush, P, Wilcox, senior
First-team All-SCVAL De Anza player helped lead Chargers to CCS Division I title, going 9-2 with three saves, 101 strikeouts and a 1.24 ERA. In the playoffs, he was 2-0 with a save.
Josh Nashed, 3B/P, Leland, senior
Mercury News player of year had school-record 49 hits and two wins and two saves in playoffs, leading Leland to CCS Open Division title.
Corby Punian, P/OF,
He had no-hitter in CCS quarterfinal win over St. Francis and winning RBI to beat Mitty in semifinals, finished with 1.16 ERA.
Luke Rasmussen, OF, Archbishop Mitty, senior
WCAL player of the year hit .425 with seven homers, leading Mitty to a share of league title and to the semifinals of CCS Open Division playoffs.
Erik Amundson, P/OF,
Bryson Brigman, SS,
Valley Christian, senior
Brendt Citta, C, Leland, junior
Tyler Deason, P/3B,
St. Francis, senior
Mikey Diekroeger, SS, Menlo School, senior
Kyle Morrison, SS, Leigh, senior
Adam Rios, SS, Wilcox,
Drew Strotman, P/OF,
Matt Toscano, OF,
Willow Glen, senior
Alex Zarate, 1B/P, Branham, senior
Cameron Ackerman, Los Gatos; Josh Alaniz, Live Oak; Aaron Albaum, Carlmont; Macklan Badger, Menlo School; Brett Berghammer, Half Moon Bay; Davis Berryhill, Saratoga; Tyler Bindi, Bellarmine; Matt Blais, Serra; Angelo Bortolin, Serra; Johnny Breidenthal, Los Gatos; Joe Cahn, Mitty; Kyle Cambron, Sequoia; Nick Castillo-Chavez, Independence; Danny Cody, Sacred Heart Prep; Brad Degnan, Woodside; Nick Del Rosario, Fremont; Nolan Dempsey, Serra; Brandon Dietzman, Milpitas; Conner DiNaro, Leland; Dylan Dreyer, Pinewood; Chase Eller, Los Altos; Jonathan Engelmann, Burlingame; Matt Hearn, Westmont; John Helmers Jr., Bellarmine; Mitch Hickey, Live Oak; Ben Hughes, Valley Christian; Jesus Jimenez, South San Francisco; Will Johnston, Sacred Heart Prep; Phil Lewis, Palo Alto; Nate Maggi, Ro Mahanty, Hillsdale; Willow Glen; Danny Malave, Mountain View; Wes Malik, Willow Glen; Jacob Marr, Saratoga; Jacob Martinez, Terra Nova; Lorenzo Martinez, Wilcox; Rory McDaid, Capuchino; Matt McLaughlin, Leland; Jared Milch, Terra Nova; Brett Moriarty, Menlo-Atherton; Mike Morbo, Westmont; Jacob Munson, Pioneer; Jacob Pangelina, Piedmont Hills; Christopher Papapietro, Serra; Tyler Plesse, Saratoga; Kyle Quadros, Live Oak; Mark Quimby, Valley Christian; Ronnie Reed, Milpitas; Jeider Rincon, Overfelt; CJ Romero, Mitty; Arman Sabouri, Branham; Steven Sagasty, Terra Nova; Justin Sanders, Live Oak; Justin Scanlon, Leigh; Matt Seubert, Carlmont; Chet Silveria, Half Moon Bay; Chris Smith, Palo Alto; Dan Speciale, Westmont; Jeremy Sullivan, Leland; Tim Susnara, St. Francis; Derek Sun, Saratoga; Sean Watkins, Serra; Matt Wilcox, Los Gatos; Ryan Williams, Branham; Bobby Wood, Homestead; Austin Youngdale, Terra Nova; Robert Zamora, Lincoln; Chris Zapata, Mitty
Coach of the year: Mike Sparrer, Leland