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

Bear Cubs season ends in heartbreak

Designated+hitter+Jake+McCoy+is+beside+himself+as+he+is+called+out+at+second+after+Cabrillo+shortstop+Anthony+Karaginnopoulos+tags+him+out+at+the+top+of+the+eighth+in+the+final+round+of+the+CCCAA+Super+Regionals+in+Hayward+on+Friday%2C+May+10%2C+2024.
Yna Bollock
Designated hitter Jake McCoy is beside himself as he is called out at second after Cabrillo shortstop Anthony Karaginnopoulos tags him out at the top of the eighth in the final round of the CCCAA Super Regionals in Hayward on Friday, May 10, 2024.

The Santa Rosa Junior College baseball team suffered a heartbreaking loss in the CCCAA Super Regional playoffs, eliminating them from the playoffs and ending their season. 

In the 3-team round against Chabot College and Cabrillo College, SRJC lost game 1 to Cabrillo, won game 2 against Chabot before a walk-off loss against Cabrillo in game 3.

 

Game 1

The Bear Cubs couldn’t manage to string together consecutive hits in the 9-4 loss in game 1. They had 10 hits to Cabrillo’s 11, but left 12 runners on bases compared to Cabrillo’s five.

Pitcher Jordan Giacomini starts for Santa Rosa against Cabrillo College in the first round of the CCCAA Super Regionals in Hayward on Thursday, May 9, 2024. (Yna Bollock)

Jordan Giacomini got the start on the mound for SRJC and pitched two clean innings before allowing a solo home run in the top of the third to give the Seahawks a 1-0 lead. 

Cabrillo started to pile on in the top of the fourth, scoring four runs on three hits including the second home run of the game to jump out to a 5-0 lead. Giacomini, who occasionally falls victim to control issues when he struggles, couldn’t seem to miss any Seahawk bats. 

The Bear Cubs cut the lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the fifth on an error and fielder’s choice, followed by an RBI single by catcher Cameron Duran. After a single by center fielder Alex Leopard, the Bear Cubs had bases loaded with one out, before strikeouts by Jake McCoy and Zane Bennett abruptly ended the inning. 

Cabrillo matched SRJC in the top of the sixth, adding on two of their own on two hits and a catcher’s interference, giving them a 7-2 lead.

Russell Freedheim took over in the top of the seventh for Giacomini, who went six innings with seven runs on eight hits and no walks.

The Bear Cubs once again loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, but didn’t manage to score. The Seahawks added insult to injury with two more runs and the third home run of the game in the top of the eighth to take a 9-2 lead. 

Christian Schiavo took over in the top of the eighth for Freedheim, who went two innings with two runs on three hits and one walk. 

A 2-run home run by SRJC first baseman Josh Martin cut the lead to 9-4 in the bottom of the ninth but it was far too late for a rally as Cabrillo then sealed the win.

 

Hekili Robello pitches for seven innings against Chabot College in the second round of the CCCAA Super Regionals in Hayward on Thursday, May 9, 2024. (Yna Bollock)

Game 2

With their season on the line, the Bear Cubs did not disappoint in game 2, winning 14-4 in dominant fashion to swing momentum back in their favor. 

Who better to call on than Hekili Robello, who would once again come through on the mound when his teammates needed him most, registering strong innings. 

The Bear Cubs wasted no time, jumping out to a 2-0 lead on a double by McCoy in the top of the first. A sac fly by Martin in the third and a single by shortstop Aidan Lombardi in the fourth gave SRJC a 4-0 lead through four innings. 

A sacrifice fly by right fielder Michael O’Daniel increased the lead to 5-0, before third baseman Keenan Morris blew the game wide open with a three-run shot to make it 8-0. 

Leopard added a two-run homer in the top of the sixth for good measure, giving the Bear Cubs a 10-0 lead. 

After five shutout innings, Robello got into trouble in the bottom of the sixth, allowing three runs on three hits, cutting the lead to 10-3. 

Lombardi joined in on the home run derby, adding a two-run bomb of his own in the top of the seventh to give the Bear Cubs a 12-3 lead. Chabot tacked on a run in the bottom of the seventh, before Bennett added yet another home run, a solo shot to make it 13-4.

Collin Medeiros took over for Robello and pitched a clean eighth inning.

Morris drove in his fourth run of the game on an RBI single in the top of the ninth to retake the 10-run lead, now 14-4.

Schat pitched a clean ninth to seal the win for the Bear Cubs, keeping their season alive.

 

Brice Cox is visibly distraught after an RBI single lessens the lead by 1 against Cabrillo College in the final round of the CCCAA Super Regionals in Hayward on Friday, May 10, 2024. (Yna Bollock)

Game 3

After a tightly contested back and forth matchup with Cabrillo, the Bear Cubs lost on a devastating comeback and walk-off in the ninth inning. 

In a surprising move by head coach Damon Neidlinger, Luke Schat got his first start of the season after pitching his first 45 ⅓ innings of the year out of the bullpen. 

Both teams’ bats were quiet for two innings before McCoy launched a 3-run home run to give the Bear Cubs an early 3-0 lead. Seahawks center fielder Jacob Pappas hit a 2-run double in the bottom of the third to cut the lead to 3-2 .

Cabrillo tied the game at 3-3 on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth. After five innings, Brice Cox took over for Schat who allowed three runs on four hits and four walks. 

In the bottom of the seventh with two outs, Morris made an uncharacteristic error at third that allowed Cabrillo to take a 4-3 lead. 

The Bear Cubs answered back in abundance in the top of the eight, when Lombardi hit a 3-run homer to give SRJC a 6-4 lead. 

The Seahawks closed the gap to 6-5 when Pappas drove in his third run on an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth. The Bear Cubs got runners to second and third in the top of ninth but came away with nothing to show for it.

With two outs and runners on second and third in the bottom of the ninth, Seahawks first baseman Oscar Knapp doubled to drive home both runners, sealing the walk off 7-6 win for Cabrillo, ending the Bear Cubs season. 

“I don’t think it felt real for anyone at first and it took awhile for the fact that our season was over to sink in,” Morris said.

With several key players finishing their sophomore years, moving on is not easy.

“I’m gonna miss playing with those guys,” Leopard said. “I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime. Santa Rosa will always have a special place in my heart.”

Assistant coach Tom Francois gave his perspective, having seen hundreds of players come and go. 

“I know from being here for over 14 years that it’s hard for them to leave,” Francois said. “I’ve heard so many of them say, ‘I wish this was a four-year school,’ because of Damon [Neidlinger] and the structure that we have here. They’ll always be part of my life. That’s that brotherhood thing. It’s ‘to the grave’ we talk about. Those guys, it’s hard for them to leave. There’s always tears.”

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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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