The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
There’s no place like home.
The opener of the 2011 College of San Mateo baseball season marked a homecoming of sorts for starting pitcher Daniel Chavez, a former Serra Padres standout who spent his freshman year at the University of San Francisco, but has since returned to play baseball closer to home.
And what a return it was. Chavez didn’t just pitch like he owned the mound or the diamond — the right-hander pitched like he owned the entire city.
Chavez used 60 pitches, throwing six no-hit innings, leading CSM to a 4-0 victory over Rocklin’s Sierra College in the season debut for last year’s CCCAA runner-up.
“We played a good game,” said head coach Doug Williams. “Sierra is a very good club. They’re one of the top clubs in Northern California, they can swing the bat and what’s impressive about that is Danny Chavez’s performance. He was outstanding. You just can’t say enough about it. He was very sharp, he was aggressive, he was competitive. He kept his poise.”
“I went out there and my pitches were all working for me,” Chavez said. “Except for my change-up, I only threw it one time. But everything else was just working good.”
Good might be an understatement. Chavez’s stuff was downright disgusting at times. At times, it seemed Sierra hitters were so baffled by his slider that you could have told them it was coming and they still wouldn’t have hit it.
“(I) picked to start him this game, because a performance like that wouldn’t be surprising,” Williams said. “He’s got the makeup, the competitiveness and the stuff. It’s a good first step.”
Only a throwing error in the top of sixth from third baseman Anthony Feliciano and a head-scratching walk kept Chavez from being perfect in his outing.
The Bulldogs backed up Chavez with three runs in the first four innings. As it turned out, it would be more than enough for Chavez, who was relieved by Josh Frendendall. Nick Franquez got the final four outs of the game.
CSM scored in the second after Abi Arias doubled to the opposite field. With two outs in the frame, catcher Tyler Nitahara singled up the middle, scoring Arias to give the Bulldogs the early lead.
Arias, who’s returning from a redshirt year, went 2 for 4 and scored two runs in the ballgame.
CSM added another run in the bottom of the third when Feliciano singled home Mark Hurley who had walked with one out in the inning.
“We do have some guys that can swing the bat,” Williams said. “It’s going to be a challenge for them as pitchers get better throughout the year that we keep adjusting, because Sierra did some things where they quickly adjusted to our hitters and cooled things off a little bit from our hot start. That’s the way college baseball is. Now our guys have to adjust back.”
Also making an impressive debut in a Bulldog uniform was Southern Utah transfer Joe Goldenberg, who launched a blast over the center field wall, just to the right of the 385 foot sign, for CSM run number four.
With the Bulldogs nickel-and-diming their way on the scoreboard, Chavez kept cruising. For the game, Chavez struck out five Sierra hitters.
“That was our plan,” Williams said about pulling the right-hander despite the zero in the hit column. “We care more about the kid’s arm and his work over the course of the season. (The) slider wasn’t quite as sharp in that last inning, his arm got a little bit low. I thought it was a good move. When you’re thinking about a good player’s arm, sometimes you have to make those tough decisions.”
Chavez knew it was the right choice too.
“I trusted coach with what he did,” Chavez said. “I wasn’t going to argue with him.”
“It was a rough year last year,” Chavez said about his move from USF to CSM. “I’m glad I made the change. We have a great staff here, great coaches, great team, so I’m excited to be here.”
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