CONCORD -- It's been 16 years since a team repeated as North Coast Section baseball champions at the highest level. De La Salle High will have a shot to do just that.
The defending champion Spartans beat No. 6 seed James Logan 5-1 on Wednesday to return to the NCS Division I title game. They'll face No. 4 Amador Valley, a 9-7 winner over top-seeded Granada, on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Saint Mary's College.
"We're extremely excited to compete," De La Salle coach David Jeans said. "It feels good to get back to the championship."
Since the NCS created the current divisions in 2009, the defending champion had never won a postseason game the following season.
The 3A East Bay had previously been the highest level, and the last team to repeat was De La Salle in 1996-97.
Senior right-hander AJ Puckett pitched a two-hitter for the No. 2 Spartans (19-7). One hit was an infield grounder and the other was a bad-hop single that bounced over the second baseman's head to drive in a run.
"I was just following my coach's pitch selection," Puckett said. "I just committed 100 percent to my coach's play call and was throwing it where he wants it."
Hunter Mercado-Hood, the Spartans' leadoff hitter and senior leader, delivered the team's first big hit when he grounded a single up the middle in the third inning to drive in two runs.
Logan got a run back in the fourth when Alex Martinez hit a chopper that bounced into right field to make it 2-1. That score stood until the sixth.
Mercado-Hood, battling a leg injury that forced him to be the designated hitter instead of play the outfield, led off with a double. Andrew Buckley pinch-ran and scored on a bunt single by Ray Bartolomucci, and the Spartans added two more in the inning.
Puckett retired Logan in order in the seventh and dismissed the final 11 batters of the game after Martinez's single.
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