The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
It’s time for junior college playoff baseball, but with a bit of a twist.
In the 2010 version of the JC baseball post season, College of San Mateo and Cañada College entered as favorites after winning their respective divisions. While the Colts stumbled early, the Bulldogs were able to ride their No. 1 seed all the way to the state championship — a series they lost to Ohlone College.
This year, with visions of Bakersfield in mind, both teams will have work with lower-than-accustomed seeds.
After finishing second in the Coast Conference-Golden Gate division, College of San Mateo drew a seven seed when the seedings for the CCCAA playoffs were announced yesterday. They’ll be the home team in a best-of-three series against College of the Sequoias, a team that finished second in the Central Valley division with an 18-6 record.
Sequoias enter the playoffs as winners of five-of-the-their-seven games. Offensively they’re lead by Ryan Rieger, who hit .365 with seven home runs and 31 runs batted in. He is one of eight hitters on the Sequoias roster who hit over .300 this year.
On the mound, Sequoias will send out Kyle Brueggeman and Michael Isom. Brueggeman started 12 games for Sequoias and ended the regular season with a 3.63 ERA. He’s got great stuff, striking out 86 hitters in 79 1/3 innings of work. In 12 starts, Isom went 6-3 with a 5.01 ERA. The strength of the Sequoias staff is in their bullpen. Taylor Wade had eight saves this year with a tiny 0.41 ERA. Simmon Menchaca is another good arm in the pen. He went 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA.
On the same half of the bracket, Cañada avoided a play-in game and earned a No. 14 seed after finishing second in the Coast Conference-Pacific division. They missed an opportunity to repeat as division champions after dropping a controversial decision to Cabrillo College in the last game of the season. Manager Tony Lucca was ejected in that game along with assistant coach Max Kautz.
As the No. 14 seed, the Colts will be the away team in a three-game series against No. 3 Solano College, who captured the Bay Valley conference with a 20-4 overall record. The Falcons are a veteran team offensively; eight of their top hitters are sophomores with Trevor Matern leading the way hitting .356 and a .424 on-base percentage. The Falcons aren’t a team with much power; they only hit nine home runs as a team this season, but in 36 games they averaged 7.5 runs a contest.
Ethan Gibbons heads the Falcons’ starting staff. He started 12 games this year for Solano and went a perfect 7-0 with a 1.67 ERA. Chris Witschi and freshman Aaron Hansen started nine games apiece this year. Hansen went 6-1 but his ERA was slightly higher than Witschi’s at 3.25. In the bullpen, Solano’s Kagen Hopkins went 5-1 and picked up a team-leading six saves.
The state swimming championships concluded Saturday afternoon with the College of San Mateo women’s team finishing ninth overall. It was one of the best seasons for the aquatics team at CSM ever.
“This was a tremendous swim season for CSM,” said head coach Randy Wright via email. “Top ten at States, our first Conference Title, Conference Coach of the Year honors, but it’s the joy of watching our swimmers win medals at States, earn All-American honors and swim their best when it counts the most that is this season’s most defining moment.”
Andrea Chan finished a stellar career at CSM, picking up a bronze medal in the 100-meter butterfly. On the men’s side, Masa Oto also picked up a bronze with a 1:53.62 in the 200-meter butterfly. “Masa was beat by two super sophomores today,” Wright said. “We knew they were going to lead the pack and the goal was to finish in the top 3. His final lap was courageous, he kept applying the pressure, it took him 195 yards to do it but today he’s a State Finals bronze medalist.”
Chan’s bronze on Saturday was her second after picking one up in the 200 individual medley. Her partner in crime, Najelah Najdawi, captured a silver medal in the 50-meter breaststroke in day two of the finals.
Track and Field
In track and field, Josh Uikilifi led a College of San Mateo medal sweep of the shot put last Friday at the Coast Conference championships.
Uikilifi threw a personal best 48 feet, 7 1/4 inches for the gold medal, followed by Sione Fanaika (45-10) and Tevita Lataimua (43-1 3/4). Uikilifi’s put ranks No. 8 in Northern California and No.15 in the state going into next Friday’s Northern California Trials at Modesto College. He also placed fourth in the discus throw at 136-3.
On the track, the CSM 4 x 100-meter relay team took the bronze medals in a season-best time of 43.09 seconds with a team of Matt Sevelo, Damian Ross, Levy Wilson and Julian Garcia. Ross was a finalist in both individual sprints, running 11.02 for fifth in the 100 meters and 22.51 for seventh in the 200.
For the CSM women, Ana Kilikiti grabbed the bronze medal in the shot put.
The Bulldogs men finished fifth overall. The women were eighth.