The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
For a group as hungry as the College of San Mateo baseball team, there probably isn’t anything more frustrating than baking a cake and not being able to eat it, too.
The Bulldogs fell 3-2 to Sierra College in the 2013 season opener. It was a game where CSM loaded the bases three difference times — twice with less than two outs — and only cashed in once, and only one run to boot.
CSM finished the game on an apparent double-steal gone terribly wrong with the potential winning run at first getting tagged out before Brandon Defazio, who represented the tying run at third, could reach the plate. In all, the Bulldogs left 12 men stranded on the bases.
“The difference was our failure to execute,” said CSM manager Doug Williams. “Not taking anything away from Sierra but we didn’t execute in several situations. We had two bases loaded situations where we struck out four times. We had first and third (in the ninth inning) and we didn’t execute like we wanted to in that situation. It’s a good wake up call for the guys.”
While the Bulldogs struggled to make their eight hits count, starting pitcher Alex Palsha was effective in 4 2/3 innings of work but gave way to former Burlingame Panther Zac Grotz, who went the rest of the way in relief without surrendering a run.
“Alex was great and Zac Grotz was just outstanding,” Williams said. “We stayed with Grotz because we thought we’d come back. Alex is good and he’s going to be a guy for us. I was very pleased with what they both did today.”
After a 1-2-3 top of the first, CSM loaded the bases right out of chute and scored when Logan Trowbridge earned a walk. But in a sign of things to come, Jarett Costa followed by hitting into an inning-ending double play.
The Bulldog offense repeated that feat in the bottom of the second.
Sierra’s Andrew Cooper settled down on the mound after that and his offense tied the game in the third inning on two hits. Then, the offense staked their starter with two runs in the top of the fifth by stringing together three singles and sending Palsha to the bench.
From there, despite constant CSM pressure on the bases, they lacked the clutch hit.
In the fifth, the Bulldogs loaded the bases only to see Cooper get out of the jam on back-to-back strikeouts.
In the seventh, CSM could not cash in a Dane Vande Guchte double to right centerfield with two outs.
In the eighth, the Bulldogs were handed three straight walks, but again struck out two straight times to end the threat.
“We have to understand that the little things, when it comes to executing, we can work and work and work on then in practice, but when we get in the games, we have to execute them,” Williams said.
“We can say their pitchers pitched well, but our hitters have to execute better.”
With one out in the ninth inning, CSM was gifted a rally after a one-out error at first. Defazio followed with a long double to right center that might have plated Vande Guchte, but No. 24 was held at third.
Ryan O’Malley drove Vande Guchte home a batter later on a ground out to first to make it 3-2 — Trowbridge then drew a walk to set the table for Mitchell Ho.
But on a 0-2 count, Trowbridge took off from first on an apparent double-steal and was tagged out with Defazio a good 20 feet from home plate.
“We’ve practice that play 100 times,” Williams said, “but unfortunately we didn’t execute like we wanted. But again, the guys competed.”