The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
Kailen Robinson had to have a laugh while standing at the plate in the seventh inning for College of San Mateo.
It was like déjà vu all over again for the CSM sophomore as Cañada catcher Matt Eastman took a jog to the mound to confab with his pitcher. Come the late innings, the Bulldogs (6-2 in Coast Golden Gate, 12-8 overall) were already cruising en route to a 10-0 home victory Tuesday over the rival Colts (6-3 in Coast Pacific, 12-6 overall). After being involved in each of CSM’s run-scoring rallies on the afternoon, Robinson had earned the laugh.
But it was Robinson’s second-inning at bat that seemed to define the game, even though he had a seemingly harmless plate appearance in failing to execute a sacrifice bunt. On the play, Colts pitcher David Moody fielded the bunt in a hurry and fired to third to get the lead out. It was what preceded the bunt, and more importantly what followed, that defined it as a pivotal moment in the game.
With Robinson looking to bunt the runners over amid a scoreless game, an epic game of cat and mouse ensued between the Bulldogs and the Colts. Cañada took its time in between every play — which included several pickoff plays and four pitches in the at bat — as Eastman deliberately signaled plays to his infield each time. In turn, Robinson took his sweet time in checking out of the batter’s box to receive signs from CSM manager Doug Williams in the dugout.
“I was just trying to get the signs from the dugout on what we were going to do with the bunt there,” Eastman said. “It was taking awhile because we were just getting a different [sign] every pitch and I had to go out there and relay it to the infielders and stuff. Other than that we were just trying to get the signs.”
Cañada won the battle in gunning down the lead runner Dylan Isquirdo at third base. But CSM authoritatively won the war.
“It was just me sticking with my approach and sticking with what we were trying to do,” Robinson said. “Too bad we couldn’t get [the runner] over because [Moody] threw him out at third. But that’s all it was, just sticking to the plan and just getting the job done — being a team player and not being selfish.”
But the Bulldogs not only responded by scoring four runs in the inning. They seemed to target Moody in the process. After Austin Lonestar singled to left to load the bases, CSM scorched three consecutive line drives right back up the middle — with RBI singles by Dane Vande Guchte, Steve Pastora and Miles Mastrobuoni — the first of which got a piece of Moody, with the next two forcing him to duck for cover.
“All those balls up the middle and scoring runs, that’s what it’s about,” Robinson said.
‘Dogs lefty deals
Even with the Bulldogs banging out 15 hits, the day belonged to freshman southpaw Conyal Cody.
CSM’s starter was nails through seven shutout innings while allowing just three hits. Cody essentially didn’t allow a hit for five innings. Colts sophomore Dylan Cook led off the game with a clean single to center. But Cañada didn’t manage its second hit until Maurice Fuller blooped a leadoff single to start the sixth. With the win, Cody improves to 3-2 on the season.
Cody persevered through a potential Cañada rally in the seventh. With two on and no outs, Williams made a trip to the mound to get a read on his freshman pitcher. Williams left him in the game, and Cody responded. He first induced a pop-up off the bat of Kyle Zirbes. Then he got some good fortune when Kody Barden hit a line drive right at CSM second baseman Vande Guchte, who promptly nabbed it and doubled off the runner at first to end the inning.
“Off the bat, I’m not going to lie, I was kind of scared,” Cody said. “But then I saw Vandy … crashing towards the play and he kept the simple play simple and just turned the double play.”
In the thick of it
Although Robinson was 0 for 2 on the day, the sophomore was instrumental in four run-scoring innings with each of his four plate appearances.
In the fourth, Robinson drew a leadoff walk. Lonestar followed with a solid single to left-center. Robinson moved to third on a productive fly out to right off the bat of Vande Guchte and Pastora drove him home with a groundout to second. Then Mastrobuoni came up with a clutch two-out single to plate Lonestar, giving CSM a 6-0 lead.
In the fifth, CSM added another insurance run against Cañada reliever Dylaney Brown. Tyler Carlson was hit by a pitch to start the frame. Carlson stole second and Isquirdo singled him to third. Then with two outs, Robinson hit a soft liner that Colts third baseman Chris Miguel mishandled and Carlson stole on the error, giving CSM a 7-0 lead.
In the sixth, the Bulldogs rallied again. Vande Guchte drew a leadoff walk and promptly stole second. Pastora singled to move Vande Guchte to third. After Pastora stole second, Bulldogs cleanup hitter Makana Lyman singled to center to drive home Vande Guchte and Pastora, giving CSM a 9-0 lead.
In the seventh facing Colts reliever Dylan Blakeley, CSM added to the laugher after Robinson drew another leadoff walk. The sophomore advanced to second and then to third on a pair of wild pitches. Then with one out, Vande Guchte hit a sacrifice fly to left to drive Robinson home to cap the day’s scoring.
CSM had four more stolen bases Tuesday, increasing its team total to 56 steals on the year, ranking second in the state. Thirty-nine of those steals have been tabbed by freshmen.
While he didn’t have a steal Tuesday, shortstop Miles Mastrobuoni ranks second in the state with 18 steals. Yet the flying freshman was hitting in the No. 3 spot of the order Tuesday. According to Mastrobuoni, it is the first time he has hit in the heart of the batting order since doing so for the NorCal Grizzlies, a travel-ball squad he played for when he was 13.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that can run on this team,” Mastrobuoni said. “Pretty much every day we do base running. Coach Williams thinks it’s a hug part of the game which it really is. … A guy on second base, he’s in scoring position right there.”
With the win, CSM keeps pace in a tight Coast Golden Gate Conference race. Chabot (6-1, 11-6) sits atop the conference, with CSM and Mission (6-2, 13-6) tied for second place a half game back.