Woodside’s Brad Degnan hit his 10th home run of the season in a 4-1 win over San Mateo.
That Woodside is a fourth-place team shows how good the competition has been in the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division this year.
The Wildcats (7-4 in PAL Ocean, 10-13 overall) entered play this week mathematically eliminated from the Ocean Division race, and were all but eliminated from postseason consideration yesterday as Mills suffered its first loss in league, falling 13-6 to second-place Sequoia.
Woodside did its best to keep its playoff hopes alive, though it will unlikely be enough, with a 4-1 win at San Mateo (4-7, 5-15), backed by a stellar pitching performance by John Mahoney.
The junior went the distance, allowing one run on three hits to earn his fourth win in league this season. Mahoney dazzled despite scuffling with his control at the outset, allowing a single to San Mateo leadoff hitter Sergio Noriega, followed by a walk to Alejandro Meza to start the game.
“My coach always tells me to focus when those things happen,” Mahoney said “And I really stayed focused, relaxed, took a deep breath, and then threw one in there.”
The advice worked. The right-hander locked in from there, setting down the next 14 batters he faced. He entered the seventh inning hurling a one-hit shutout, and soldiered through a Bearcats rally to go the distance. He threw 112 pitches on the afternoon and matched his career high with 14 strikeouts.
With Noriega on the mound for San Mateo, the Bearcats kept it close. The start marked the first of the freshman left-hander’s varsity career, and he gutted through 5 2/3 innings in taking the loss. Noriega surrendered four runs on nine hits, while striking out five against no walks.
Perhaps Noriega’s most outstanding accomplishment was striking out Woodside junior Brad Degnan in the third. Degnan has been one tough customer, striking out just four times in league this season. In fact, he has more home runs in league than strikeouts — highlighted by his historic three home runs in one inning April 18 against Westmoor.
With yesterday’s game being the first after Degnan’s accomplishment earned a mention in the April 29 edition of Sports Illustrated, the junior slugger did not disappoint. Despite the third-inning strikeout, Degnan had a good day at the plate, going 2 for 4 with a home run. After entering the season with six career home runs in two previous years of varsity ball, the junior center fielder currently has 10 on the season.
Degnan also made the defensive play of the game — an all-out, headlong diving catch on a sinking liner off the bat of Meza with a runner in scoring position to keep San Mateo off the board in the sixth.
“I took a couple steps in … then I saw it coming in on a weird angle, so I dove,” Degnan said. “That one hurt. I hit my head and my elbow, and it rattled me after that. It was hard to get up. … It was worth it. It saved a run.”
Woodside posted single runs in each inning from the third to the sixth. In the third, after Matt Hennefarth led off with a bloop single to right, Jordan Benavides doubled him home. In the fourth, Jamie Kruger led off with a booming triple to left, then scored on a single by Mahoney. In the fifth, Degnan smoked an in-the-park home run to right-center. In the sixth, Andrew Holm singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch, before Henneforth greeted San Mateo reliever Meza with an RBI single to give the Wildcats a 4-0 lead.
San Mateo threatened in the seventh, ultimately getting the potential tying run to the plate, but scratched out just the one run. The Bearcats’ leading hitter, Taylor Sanft, led off the inning with a triple to center, then scored on a two-out single by Spencer King. After Sanft’s 1-for-3 day at the plate, the senior is currently batting .327 on the season.
The Wildcats had their fate in their own hands last week against Mills, but faltered in a couple close ones, including a 7-6 loss April 23, followed by a 4-2 loss April 25 after leading through the first three innings.
“We lost two close games last week to Mills,” Faulkner said. “So if we had a hit there, or a ball fall in there, we would have swept them and we’d be in first place. We could have … won those games as (easily as) they were lost.”