The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
The College of San Mateo Bulldogs are riding high into the final two weeks of the community college baseball season.
That doesn’t mean they’re planning on letting up any time soon.
CSM (14-1 in Coast Golden Gate, 29-5 overall) continued to play like a team on a mission Saturday at Bulldog Stadium, claiming their 10th straight victory with an 11-2 rout of visiting De Anza.
The meeting started as something of a San Mateo reunion, with De Anza-Cupertino (9-6, 19-15) carrying half a dozen San Mateo County natives on its roster. But amid a scoreless tie in the fifth, the Bulldogs — batting .305 as a team this season — sent 11 batters to the plate as if throwing the switch to turn out the lights on the reunion hospitality.
With the win, No. 5-ranked CSM maintains a four-game lead over second-place Chabot in the Coast Golden Gate Conference standings with five to play.
“[The win] is important because it gets the team one game closer to where we want to be,” CSM sophomore Anders Green said. “But also, we’re just trying to take it one game at a time. We’re not trying to get too far ahead of ourselves.”
The battle of left-handed starting pitchers featured CSM freshman Jared Milch locking up with a San Mateo native in De Anza sophomore Nick Simonian.
Deadlocked in the fifth though, it was Green — an Oregon native — who stepped up with runners at the corners to get the Bulldogs on the board with an RBI single and start up the hit parade.
“Just looking for a pitch to drive,” Green said. “Just get the barrel out and hit it where they weren’t playing. And that seemed to get things rolling.”
Indeed. Freshman cleanup hitter Angelo Bortolin followed with a single for his state-leading 50th RBI of the year, sophomore Nick Adgar laced an RBI single to right and, after a walk to Brandon Hernandez loaded the bases, sophomore catcher Ray Soderman produced a two-run single to knock Simonian out of the game.
Simonian — a 6-foot-4 sophomore out of St. Ignatius — falls to 7-4 on the year. Milch took a no-decision, working four scoreless innings before giving way to sophomore right-hander Roger Kruse, who got touched for two runs through three-plus innings to earn the win.
Making his first start in three weeks, Milch got tested in the first inning when the first two De Anza players reached base. Reigning Northern California Player of the Week Ryan Mount reached on an error by second baseman Myles Coston. Then Aragon graduate Nick Franquez drew a four-pitch walk.
But Milch labored through a long, deliberate inning out of the stretch to strand both runners. He benefitted from an at-’em ball on a long liner to center off the bat of Serra graduate Nolan Dempsey. He then struck out cleanup hitter Casey Anderson on a high curve and induced a groundout off the bat of Half Moon Bay native Devon Canty to escape the jam.
“Just slowing the game down,” Milch said. “We did a good job of putting them to sleep.”
After the seventh-inning stretch, CSM rallied for three more runs. Adgar lifted a one-out triple into the right-field corner to start it off. Hernandez followed with a solid RBI single to right. Then after Soderman got hit by a pitch and Papapietro reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases, Coston smacked a two-run single to center to up the lead to 8-0.
De Anza chased Kruse from the game in the top of the eighth when, after a walk to Mount, Franquez clubbed an RBI double to center. But freshman right-hander Keolu Ramos worked through an RBI single by Anderson to close out the inning with back-to-back punch-outs.
The Bulldogs added three more runs in the bottom of the eighth on a three-run double by Soderman, who finished with a career-high five RBIs. Then closer Mark Quinby entered in a non-save situation to retire the side in order in the ninth.
The Bulldogs produced 13 hits on the day, paced by a 3-for-5 performance by the switch-hitting Green. Adgar, Soderman and leadoff hitter RJ Prince totaled two hits apiece.
Prince took over the leadoff spot March 25 when the Bulldogs started their 10-game winning streak. During the streak, he has produced six two-hit games and is currently hitting .340 with a .486 on-base percentage.
“I actually like it a lot,” Prince said of the leadoff spot, a role he had never assumed in his life prior to March 25. “I’ve developed into it. And I get to see a lot of pitches, which is what I like to do.”
CSM again plays host to De Anza Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. With a win, the Bulldogs can clinch at least a share of the conference championship. CSM then travels to second-place Chabot for a two-game series and closes out the season with two games against last-place City College of San Francisco.