A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

SRJC Baseball scores 23 runs in three-game-series win over San Mateo in first round of regional playoffs

Yna Bollock
Catcher Cameron Duran scores on Leopard’s single in the bottom of the third against College of San Mateo in the final game of the CCCAA Regional Playoffs at home on Friday, May 3, 2024.

The Santa Rosa Junior College baseball team defeated San Mateo in the first round of CCCAA regional playoffs, winning 2-1 in the best-of-three series at home on Thursday and Friday.

Game 1

Keenan Morris led the way with six RBIs in a commanding 10-3 win in Game 1 on Thursday. 

Jordan Giacomini got the start on the mound to open up regional play for the Bear Cubs. In the regular season, he posted a 4.38 ERA in 61 ⅔ innings with a 6.42 K/9 and 1.52 WHIP.

Giacomini got into a bit of trouble in the top of the first when two runners reached on a leadoff single followed by a catcher’s interference, before getting a strikeout for the first out. 

He then induced a ground ball for a fielder’s choice and the second out. On the play, the runner on second tried to score and was thrown out at home by Giacomini for the third out. 

More action for San Mateo in the top of the third, as the Bulldogs scored two runs on three doubles, one of which being a pop up that took off in the wind. Santa Rosa then threw out another runner on the bases, with a relay getting a runner at third. 

The Bear Cubs went into the bottom of the fourth trailing 2-0. After two walks and an error, left fielder Zane Bennett cut the deficit in half on a sacrifice fly. After another walk to load the bases, Morris jolted the Bear Cubs in front with a towering grand slam.

The blast by Morris electrified the SRJC dugout and crowd. There was a stark difference in the atmosphere compared to regular season games. 

The Bear Cubs piled on in the bottom of the fifth, scoring three on a bases-loaded walk by Cameron Duran, followed by a two-run single by Morris to give him six RBIs on the day and SRJC an 8-2 lead.

After a leadoff walk in the top of the sixth, Luke Schat took over for Giacomini, who went five innings with two runs, five hits, two walks and five strikeouts.

Schat allowed a single to the first batter he faced, before Duran gunned out the lead runner trying to steal third for the first out. The initial safe call was overturned, prompting some chirping by both crowds. After a strikeout for the second out, another hit put runners on first and third. Schat induced a pop fly to escape unscathed. 

The Bear Cubs added two insurance runs on an RBI single by Alex Leopard to extend the lead to 10-2. Leopard finished in the Big 8 top five in AVG, home runs and RBIs, and should have a strong case for Big 8 MVP.

Duran recorded the first out of the top of the seventh by making a diving catch on a popped up bunt. San Mateo then shortened the lead to 10-3 on an RBI double, but Schat shut down the flame that San Mateo was starting. In the win, Schat went four innings with one run, five hits, one walk and four strikeouts. 

SRJC batters were walked a whopping nine times. San Mateo managed to outhit SRJC 10-9, but were killed by walks and timely hitting. 

“They’re being more patient in the box,” said assistant coach Tom Francois. “That’s why we were getting a lot fewer strikeouts. We’re minimizing strikeouts and increasing walks from the opposing pitcher because of patience, and waiting for their pitch.”


Pitcher Brice Cox starts on the mound for game 2 against College of San Mateo in the first round of the CCCAA Regional Playoffs at home on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Yna Bollock)

Game 2

After the offensive outpour in Game 1, the Bear Cubs bats were stifled in a 6-3 loss in Game 2 on Friday. Due to the nature of tournament play, SRJC was the road team

despite playing at their home field. 

Brice Cox got the start for SRJC. On the year he has a 3.92 ERA in 64 ⅓  innings with a 10.21 K/9 and a 1.13 WHIP. 

San Mateo scored first again, taking a 1-0 lead on a double and sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first. They increased the lead to 3-0 on three hits including two doubles in the bottom of the fourth. 

Cox only lasted four innings, allowing three runs on four hits and one walk, with three of the hits being doubles. 

The Bear Cubs finally showed signs of life in the top of the fifth, cutting the lead to 3-1 on an RBI double by right fielder Jake McCoy. Eli Yamanaka took over for Cox in the bottom of the fifth, and worked a smooth inning despite hitting a batter. 

Yamanaka got into trouble in the bottom of the sixth, loading the bases on a hit by pitch and two walks. Two runs then scored on an infield single and sacrifice fly to give San Mateo a 5-1 lead. Yamanaka was pulled after walking his third batter to once again load the bases.

He finished his day with two runs on one hit, three walks and two hit batters in 1 ⅓ innings. Russell Freedheim took over with one out to try to escape the inning. He would do just that, throwing only two pitches to induce two fly outs.

Shortstop Aidan Lombardi gave the Bear Cubs a jolt in the top of the seventh by launching a solo home run to cut the lead to 5-2. 

After two singles and a sacrifice bunt, Morris cut the lead to 5-3 in the top of the eighth on an RBI groundout. San Mateo answered back by scoring on a double steal in the bottom of the eighth to make it 6-3. 

The Bear Cubs then went down in order in the ninth to give San Mateo the 6-3 win, evening the series at 1-1 and setting up a winner-take-all Game 3.


Bear Cubs Pitcher Hekili Robello pitches a complete game against College of San Mateo in the final game of the CCCAA Regional Playoffs at home on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Yna Bollock)

Game 3

The third game began directly after the second and it was back to regularly scheduled programming for the Bear Cubs, as they shut down San Mateo’s hopes of an upset with a statement 10-2 win.

Ace Hekili Robello was called upon to win the series for the Bear Cubs and he delivered, throwing a complete game. Duran answered the call as well, delivering four hits and three RBIs after head coach Damon Neidlinger moved him up to second in the lineup in the win. Duran was not alone, as the Bear Cubs had 17 hits as a team.

After two quiet innings, the Bear Cubs put up three runs on four hits, including doubles by Lombardi and Duran to take a 3-0 lead. SRJC got back to work in the bottom of the fifth, scoring two on three hits to increase the lead to 5-0. 

Another two runs scored on four hits the following inning to increase the lead to 7-0. Duran recorded his second double to go along with a double by Quinn Medin.

Through eight innings, Robello allowed no runs with seven strikeouts. In the bottom of the eighth the Bear Cubs added insult to injury, scoring three more to take a 10-0 lead. Duran recorded his fourth hit and third RBI, followed by Leopard’s third hit and third RBI. McCoy added a double of his own for his second RBI. 

After eight innings of dominance, Robello got into some trouble in the ninth. He allowed two runs on three hits before inducing a double play to escape the jam and seal the game 3 and series win for the Bear Cubs.

SRJC outscored San Mateo 23-11 over the course of the three games. Key contributors included usual suspects such as Alex Leopard, who went 5-for-14 with 5 RBIs in the series. Unlikely heroes included Keenan Morris who went 3-for-10 with 7 RBIs and Cameron Duran who went 7-for-9 with 4 RBIs. 

With close to a week in between, the Bear Cubs are taking advantage of the time off to get extra work in.

“If we lose this thing, it won’t be because we weren’t prepared,” Francois said. “Damon has these guys working hard and has them prepared, so we’re looking forward to our next contest.” 

The Bear Cubs will play their first game of Super Regionals on Thursday, May 9, with their opponent being either Chabot College or Cabrillo College. 

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About the Contributors
Oliver Kindt
Oliver Kindt, Reporter
Oliver Kindt (he/him) is a journalism major in his second semester at SRJC and first at The Oak Leaf. He is an aspiring sports writer who will be covering primarily baseball and softball this spring.
Yna Bollock
Yna Bollock, Reporter
Yna Bollock is in her first semester with the Oak Leaf. She has been working on prerequisites for the last two semesters and is elated to begin major specific requirements for the journalism program, specifically photojournalism. Prior to pursuing a photojournalism degree, she graduated from SRJC’s culinary program in 2013. In 2020, following a layoff from the hospitality industry, Yna graduated from the CNA program in June in an effort to stay gainfully employed throughout the pandemic. Now in 2024, she is on track to graduate with a bachelor’s of arts in photojournalism.

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