Mustangs upset Bulldogs in three game series

The Los Medanos College baseball team shocked the California college baseball world after defeating the No.1 seeded College in Northern California — San Mateo. The 17th seeded Mustangs edged out the Coast Golden Gate division champions by winning the series 2-1 away.

After extending their postseason with a head-to-head battle against Sierra College last Tuesday, the team awaited a challenge in a best-of-three series versus the College of San Mateo later on in the week.

The San Mateo Bulldogs finished first in the Coast Golden Gate conference with an 18-2 record and in the Top 10 in offensive categories such as extra base hits, runs,and walks.  With all their contributions in the regular season, San Mateo was given the top seed in the Northern California Regionals. Meanwhile the 13-8 Stangs got themselves in the 17th seed after finishing second in the Bay Valley Conference.

The opening game of the first-round series saw LMC lose by their biggest deficit, 18-0. The Stangs had little- to-no offense and were a victim of a pitching shutout with only four hits in the entire game.

The Bulldogs however had a total of 17 hits and had three innings where five or more runs were scored.

“Obviously it wasn’t  how we wanted to start off but one game is one game and one loss is one loss.“But we kinda expected something of that caliber from a good team like San Mateo,” said head coach Anthony D’Albora. “Even though we lost 18-0 we needed to clear our minds yet have the same routine we’ve been doing all season long and be ready for the next day to prepare ourselves to win the next two games with no breathing room for error.”

All San Mateo needed to do was win again, call it a day and move onto the next round. Yet that wasn’t the plan in the hearts and minds of the LMC players. They faced a win-or -go-home challenge in game two and if it they won,an impromptu game three would happen later on in the day.

Game two had the Mustangs act as the home team and the Bulldogs away so they  were the first to begin the at-bats. Starting pitching duties belonged to LMC’s Spencer Vincent, having gone 4-1 in the regular season. Right off the bat, San Mateo gave early trouble to LMC by grabbing a 1-0 lead and quiet bats in the early portion of the game. In the meantime, Vincent kept the Bulldogs lead to just a run giving hope for a comeback that the Stangs were yearning for.

The views from the sixth inning saw Vincent’s pitching continue to be on point and gave a glimpse of the Stang’s first run. After Riley Cleary’s walk and third baseman Antone Self’s single, center fielder Jonathan Allen reached base on an error at first  and brought the Mustangs their first run of the game.

First baseman Jason Kreske got the team in front on another defensive error and got the Mustangs their first lead in the entire series. “It was good to bounce back from the 18-0 loss and show that we were still in it to win it in the next game,” said Kreske who later went to score the Stangs third run of the game after a single by Cleary to make it 3-1.

Pitcher Llewelyn Slone took over for Vincent on the mound after allowing one earned run and four hits in seven innings.

“It was my time to do my thing and achieve something great with a strong group of guys behind me,” said Vincent. “We played like we had nothing to lose and had confidence that we can do anything to pull off the upset.”

Slone transferred his clutch performance from Sierra to San Mateo in game two, ending the Bulldog’s chance of a clean sweep after a 3-1 Stangs win.

“Our goal is always to win every week yet the challenge was tougher and I was happy that the team relaxed and went out there and played the game as a new opportunity after what happened the day before,” said D’Albora.

For the second time in the span of a week, LMC was in a position where their season could’ve ended— or they could’ve ended someone else’s in a decisive game. It just so happened to be that the team they faced was the top seed in North California.

Hours after the second bout, game three had San Mateo return to the role of the home team with LMC’s David Qunitero as starting pitcher yet despite the fact he had not started a game all season long.

“It was by far my biggest performance  in the season, especially in such an important game for the school,” said Quintero.

The Mustangs continued where they left off in the previous game, getting ahead in the second inning off a single by outfielder Sawyer Olson and later scored on a passed ball for a 2-0 lead.

San Mateo got  a run yet was stalled by Qunitero’s pitching. A breakthrough moment occurred when LMC’s Allen hit his seventh home run of the year with a  two-run blast in the fifth inning givinghe Stangs a 4-1 lead.“

It meant a lot because I knew that I helped out the team have a bigger lead when we needed it the most,” said Allen.

The Bulldogs remained in the battle offensively getting run and making the game 4-2..  The bottom of the eighth spelled bad news for The Mustangs, as San Mateo came back to tie the game at four-a-piece. The drama continued once the game went to extra innings after no winner could be decided in nine.

The top of the 10h inning was the moment that the whole squad was hoping for after Kreske’s RBI fielder’s choice brought shortstop Jason Ochoa to score for a 5-4 lead.

“Everyone came through, from the bench to the bullpen and we all played with top quality to get the lead in the 10th,”said Ochoa.

Kreske described the experience of regaining the lead in extra innings.“It’s been the best baseball we’ve played all year because we left it all on the field and we proved it in the 10th inning.”

Slone was recalled  the pitcher’s hill and was assigned to save the game and break the hearts of the Bulldogs. With a runner on first with one out, a ball that was in Self’s path in third base and ended the Coast Golden Gate champs season with a double play.

“I wanted to scoop the ball as quick as I could so we can get it over and celebrate with everyone,” said Self.

D’Albora dedicated the Stangs pulling off a major upset in the Northern California Regionals to all those who contributed all season long.

“This for our program, the players, coaches and to anyone that has been on the team in previous seasons who’ve been close to super regionals,” he said.

The team is now scheduled to face the No.2 seeded Santa Rosa Junior College away today.

“If we can beat the No.1  seed why not beat the second?” said D’Albora.