The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
The New York Yankees’ duo of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris made the nickname famous in the 1960s, but the College of San Mateo baseball team has its own version of the M&M Boys.
The Bulldogs’ tandem of Miles Mastrobuoni and Devin Mahoney proved worthy of the M&M moniker Saturday as No. 5-seed CSM (27-11) completed a sweep of No. 12 Merced in the opening round of the California Community College Athletic Association regional playoffs.
After trouncing the Blue Devils (23-15) in Friday’s best-of-three series opener 12-3, the Bulldogs completed the sweep with a 6-1 victory Saturday at Bulldog Field.
Mastrobuoni paced the Bulldogs in the finale with three hits, going 3 for 4 with an RBI and three extra-base hits. Mahoney reached base in all five of his plate appearances, going 2 for 2 with three walks.
But it was on the mound where Mahoney shined. Making the first start of his collegiate career, the sophomore went the distance, allowing one run on three hits while throwing 96 pitches, striking out three against two walks and inducing 11 groundouts. He retired the last 10 batters he faced.
Mahoney earned his stripes out of the bullpen this season. Previous to Saturday’s start, he worked 34 1/3 innings, all out of the pen to lead all Bulldogs relievers. But in his starting debut Saturday, he earned the victory to improve to 5-1 and only seemed to grow stronger as the day went on.
The Bulldogs staked Mahoney to an early lead, rallying in the first inning for a run. Austin Lonestar was hit by a pitch then scored when Mastrobuoni drilled an RBI triple into the left-center field gap. CSM would have had more, but Merced cut down two runners at home, including right fielder David Hermosillo throwing out Juan Gonzalez the plate on a Mahoney single to end the inning.
Merced evened the score in the top of the second, but Mahoney pitched out of a big-time jam. The Devils loaded the bases with no outs and Hermosillo followed with a sacrifice fly to center to score Jim Pernetti to tie the game 1-1. However, with the back runners also attempting to tag up on the play, CSM caught a break by appealing the tag-up play at second base. With the runner having left early, he was called out on the appeal. Mahoney went on to escape the jam with the tie intact.
The game would stay even until the fourth thanks to some sterling CSM defense. In the Merced third, with one on and one out, Bulldogs right fielder Brad Degnan made a diving catch on a sinking flare. In the third, Pernetti hit a deep drive to left, but Gonzalez made a difficult play look easy as he tracked the ball down at the wall.
In the bottom of the fourth, CSM took the lead while setting a trend with its first of three two-out RBI hits on the day. After a leadoff single by Degnan, he stole second with two outs. Then Ryan Krainz got ahead of the count 2-0 and delivered an RBI single to plate Degnan, giving the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead.
In the fifth, CSM added on. Mastrobuoni led off the frame with a booming opposite-field double into the left-field corner. Gonzalez followed with a sharp groundout to third base that looked to be an unproductive out, but Mastrobuoni took off streaking for third as soon as the throw went across the diamond to generate an extra 90 feet.
After a one-out walk to Mahoney, Mastrobuoni was thrown out at the plate on a squeeze attempt with a bunt from Dylan Isquirdo. But Degnan came through with a two-out single to score Mahoney. Makana Lyman followed with an infield single that the Merced shortstop kept on the infield, but made an ill-advised throw to first, allowing Isquirdo to score all the way from second base, giving CSM a 4-1 lead.
Lyman’s infield hit knocked Merced starting pitcher Ryan Sanchez out of the game. Sanchez took the loss through 4 2/3 innings, but it was a singular at-bat in the third inning that really took a bite out of his pitch count. While the No. 3 hitter Mastrobuoni and the No. 5 hitter Mahoney did damage with their combined five hits, Gonzalez in the cleanup spot saw 21 pitches in his three at-bats against Sanchez, including a spirited 12-pitch at-bat in the third inning.
After Merced turned to the bullpen, Mahoney took his mound prowess to another level in the late innings for CSM. He entered the seventh inning having thrown 77 pitches, but faced the minimum through the final three frames. At the plate, he also accounted for CSM’s final two insurance runs. In the seventh, he scored on a two-out single by Lyman. Then in the ninth, he doubled home Draco Roberts to cap the day’s scoring.
With the win, CSM advances to the second round of the three-tiered Northern California playoff bracket. The Bulldogs will travel to No. 4-ranked Santa Rosa for the second consecutive year. Dates and times are yet to be announced.