By Danny Schmidt, Marin Independent Journal
With the team gathered in left field, San Marin High baseball coach Jamie Vattuone didn’t know exactly what to say following Tuesday’s North Coast Section Division III opener.
His second-seeded Mustangs had just been upset at home by No. 15 De Anza (El Sobrante) after mustering only two hits in a 4-1 loss, which ended San Marin’s season much earlier than players and coaches expected.
“It sucks,” San Marin senior Dawsen Bacho said. “It’s not the ideal way to leave high school. We’ll miss being out here everyday, grinding with each other.”
The game was a stark contrast to the teams’ meeting in last year’s NCS opener, which San Marin won 15-2 by trouncing De Anza pitcher Ricky Hernandez. But Tuesday belonged to Hernandez, who struck out eight and walked four in the two-hitter.
“You can tell he’s matured over the year and has done a hell of a job,” Vattuone said of Hernandez, who improved to 7-2. “You just tip your hat to him. We didn’t show up and do what we needed to do.”
The Dons (20-6), who went 10-0 in the Tri-County League, scored all four of their runs with two outs on Tuesday, beginning with a pair in the top of the first inning. Christian Deir Martinis drove in Justin Summers and Jalen Placide with a single.
“We thought we’d be a littler higher in the seeding,” De Anza coach Brandon Fredzess said. “We bust our butts and we took what we got. To me, a number doesn’t mean anything.”
The Mustangs (16-10) responded with one run in the bottom of the first. Bacho sliced Hernandez’s pitch into right-center, scoring Nick Corbani. Three of the game’s seven hits were recorded in the first inning.
After three scoreless innings, De Anza added two more runs in the top of the fifth, when Placide and Hernandez each recorded RBIs, giving the Dons a 4-1 lead.
Sam Leonard legged out an infield single in the bottom of the sixth for San Marin’s second and final hit of the game.
“The kid’s been busting his butt all season long,” Fredzess said of Hernandez. “We’ve been working a lot on the offspeed pitches. It’s hard to get kids at this level to really focus on those, as far as hitting goes. So if you can get those and mix in some good fastballs, it definitely pays off.”
San Marin ace Dominic Burke pitched seven innings, allowing five hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
“He did great,” Bacho said of Burke. “They’re a good fastball-hitting team. He did everything he could, it just wasn’t enough.
“(Hernandez) did a really good job. We just couldn’t hit the ball. It was one of those days.”
The Mustangs were ousted at home in the first round of the MCAL tournament last week after claiming the No. 3 seed.
“For whatever reason, we’ve disappeared at the plate over the last couple weeks,” Vattuone said. “We stopped putting up a fight, it seems like. It’s frustrating, but I know these kids are good kids. They battled and did the best they could.”
For Vattuone and his staff, this group of seniors, led by Bacho, Burke, Nick Corbani and RJ Balderama — the top of the lineup — is the first they’ve coached throughout their entire prep careers.
“We’re going to miss them a lot,” Vattuone said. “They set the tone at practice and were great leaders. Hopefully the next group can take their example, even learn from the mistakes and keep the program rolling in the right direction.”
- Charlie Ludlow drove in two runs and Anthony Pomilia, Peter Armusewicz and Casey Armusewicz each recorded RBIs in No. 3 Marin Catholic’s 5-2 win against 14th-seeded San Lorenzo (16-10) in the opening round of the NCS D-II playoffs. Calvin Wright and Jordan Baldwin combined to allow two earned runs on eight hits with three strikeouts for the Wildcats (23-4), who host the winner of Petaluma/Montgomery on Friday.
- No. 5 Tam (13-13) suffered a season-ending 3-1 loss to No. 12 Miramonte (15-10) on Tuesday in the first round of the NCS D-III playoffs.
- San Rafael residents Michael Davis (1 for 2) and Alex Dombrowski each scored for No. 5 St. Vincent, which beat 12th-seeded Sonoma Academy 8-1 on Tuesday in the NCS D-V opener. The Mustangs (19-6) travel to play No. 4 Stuart Hall (18-7) at 4 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals.
- Tomales (7-11) ended its season with a 12-0 loss to No. 2 Ferndale (15-11) during the NCS D-VI opening-round game in Ferndale. No further details were available at press time.
D-II: Marin Catholic 5, San Lorenzo 2
D-III: Miramonte 3, Tam 1
D-III: De Anza 4, San Marin 1
D-VI: Ferndale 12, Tomales 0
D-II: Concord at Redwood, 4 p.m.
D-III: Sonoma at Drake, 4 p.m.
D-III: San Rafael at Albany, 4 p.m.
D-V: Branson vs. University, 4 p.m., Big Rec Field (S.F.)
D-V: College Prep vs. Marin Academy, 7 p.m., Albert Park