The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.

The College of San Mateo baseball starting rotation has grown into a sophomore-heavy staff this season. The exception to this as of late has been freshman left-hander Jared Milch.

The 2016 Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division Pitcher of the Year out of Terra Nova, Milch turned in his finest outing of the year Saturday in CSM’s 9-0 win at City College of San Francisco.

The freshman southpaw worked seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits before right-handers Wyatt Tucker and Andreas Papageorge came on in relief to combine on the shutout. With the win — the Bulldogs’ 20th overall victory of the year; they also are ranked No. 2 in Northern California and are in first place by 2 1/2 games in the Coast Golden Gate Conference — Milch’s record improves to 3-2.

“To me, as long as we’re winning games, all I want is to win,” Milch said. “Whatever way I can contribute to that, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Ranking second on the CSM staff with 39 innings pitched, Milch has appeared in eight games, including seven starts. It’s predominantly the only role he served through three varsity seasons at Terra Nova. When he arrived at CSM this season as a true freshman though, he didn’t know what to expect in terms of his role.

“Coming in I didn’t really know what to expect,” Milch said. “I just knew I was going to have to come in here and prove what I can do. Whatever happens it’s not my decision. I just have to go out and prove I can do the job that I want to do.”

The Bulldogs entered the season with a premium right-handed freshman starter in Ethan Heinrich out of Heritage-Brentwood. Heinrich was stellar through four appearances, posting a 3-0 record with a 1.19 ERA, but has not pitched since Feb. 28. Since that time, Milch is the only freshman to start a game for the Bulldogs, pitching on a staff that includes sophomores Dalton Gomez (4-1 record, 2.62 ERA) and Drew Reveno (4-0, 3.25).

Milch made his collegiate debut as a reliever on Feb. 4 and earned the win in an 11-2 victory over Solano. He has worked exclusively as a starter ever since. He weathered some struggles over the next month, going 0-2 through his first four starts. Since his first starting victory March 11 in a 5-3 win over West Valley — allowing two runs over six innings while striking out a career-high five — he has gone 2-0 through his last three outings.

“I go out there with a chip on my shoulder and want to prove my worth every time out,” Milch said.

Milch’s seven innings against CCSF is a new career high. Utilizing a three-pitch repertoire effectively, he went through the Rams’ batting order three times, taking a one-hitter into the seventh inning before surrendering a second knock to Serra graduate Patrick O’Regan.

“You get more comfortable with each outing,” Milch said. “That’s my goal is to get better with each start.”

Another former Serra grad, CSM freshman Chris Papapietro, had a career-best three hits to pace the Bulldogs. Freshman third baseman Everett Lau also had three hits for CSM, while sophomore designated hitter Nick Adgar clubbed his second home run of the year. The Bulldogs totaled 12 hits in the game.

As a two-sports standout at Terra Nova — Milch was also a point guard for the varsity basketball team and averaged a double-double with 22.9 points 10.2 rebounds per game as a senior in 2015-16 — the 6-foot-3 lefty faced a difficult decision in choosing to play at CSM, which does not have a men’s basketball team, as opposed to opting for a college where he could play both basketball and baseball.

“It was a very tough decision,” Milch said. “I had a few (schools) that offered to let me play both. But you can’t play both forever and you’ve got to make a decision. And I think this was the best choice for me.”

Milch quickly found a home at CSM though. He called the Bulldogs one of the highest chemistry teams he has ever been a part of. He also said playing baseball, as opposed to playing basketball, was clearly the right choice for him going forward after Terra Nova.

“I felt like this is definitely the best fit for me,” Milch said. “The program here, the tradition, the coaching, the competitions with the players; and they really care about academics as well. They really do a good job of getting the guys in and getting them to a good place. So I felt like this was the best decision for me personally. And so far I’m totally happy with my decision. I wouldn’t change it.”