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

Will Bowen’s best swing of the bat was a swing of the bat that wasn’t.

Will Bowen

Will Bowen

College of San Mateo (12-6 Coast North, 22-13) claimed a key 8-7 win Saturday on the Hilltop in a back-and-forth battle with Cañada. The win clinches no worse than a third-place finish for the Bulldogs in the Coast Conference North, with the top three placers earning automatic bids to the California Community College Athletic Association baseball playoffs.

Bowen was 2 for 4 with two RBIs on the day, but with the game tied 4-4 in the fourth, the sophomore earned the game-winning RBI by virtue of a bases-loaded walk to force home JoJo Cardinale. The Bulldogs tied the game earlier in the inning on Cardinale’s RBI single.

Cañada (9-9, 21-17) jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, capped by an RBI single from Carson Vance in the top of the second. CSM tied it in the bottom of the inning. Aidan Taclas got the Bulldogs on the board with an RBI single, and Charlie Welch later squeezed home Taclas with a bunt.

The Colts took the lead twice more over the next two innings, but CSM kept firing back. Cañada took a 3-2 advantage on the third with Bittner scoring on a wild pitch. In the bottom of the inning, Bowen — ranked third in the Coast North with a .397 batting average — doubled home Rowan Felsch to tie it 3-3. In the fourth, Cañada went up again on a Max Ross sacrifice fly.

CSM led from the bottom of the fourth on, but Cañada got to within a run in the seventh. Dom Avila drew a bases-loaded walk to close the deficit to 6-5. But, true to form, the Bulldogs responded with runs in the bottom of the inning when Cardinale recorded a two-run double to make it 8-5. Cañada closed to within one run in the eighth on a two-run home run by Ross.

CSM closer Chase Yocum weathered the storm though, retiring the side in order in the ninth to record the save, his third of the year. Yocum worked three innings, allowing two runs on two hits in relief of starting pitcher Danny Peters. Peters worked six innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and three walks, while striking out two to earn the win. His record improves to 6-4.

As a testament to how important the game was for Cañada, freshman pitcher Devin Bettencourt recorded his first relief appearance since February, breaking a streak of 11 straight starting appearances. The right-hander took the loss, entering in the third inning in relief of starter Drew Parenti, allowing three runs on four hits over 2 2/3 innings. His record falls to 6-5.

Bittner led all hitters with a 3-for-5 day, while Ross totaled three RBIs for Cañada. Cardinale racked up three RBIs for CSM, and Vicente Feliciano added two hits.

Cañada previously won a three-game series from CSM. The Bulldogs’ win Saturday earns them a split in the season series against their rivals to the south. The Colts will finish the season in fourth place in the Coast North and must now rely on hopes of an at-large bid to the CCCAA playoffs.