Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
San Mateo Post 82 pitcher Greg Hubbell was outstanding in an 8-0 win over Redwood City in the American Legion Area 2 tournament. The recent Carlmont graduate held the Blues to just one hit in six innings of work, striking out 10.
All aces are valued the same in a deck of cards.
On the baseball diamond, however, not all aces are equal.
Redwood City Post 105 sent its ace, Tyler Vau Dell, to the mound in a winner’s bracket game of the Area 2 American Legion tournament at San Bruno Park Friday night. San Mateo countered with an ace of its own, Greg Hubbell.
Vau Dell was good. Hubbell was great. Vau Dell pitched well, but was done in by one bad inning. Hubbell not only avoided the big inning, he was nearly unhittable. In six innings of work, he allowed just one hit and struck out 10. Brendan Simpson and Evan McClain pitched the final three innings, allowing just one hit as San Mateo beat Redwood City 8-0 to advance to the championship series beginning Saturday at San Bruno Park.
“I love [Hubbell],” said Bob Sargent, San Mateo assistant and pitching coach. “His stuff, his composure. He’s becoming a man on the mound.”
With the loss, Redwood City falls into the loser’s bracket and will face Palo Alto in an elimination game beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday. The winner of that game with play San Mateo for the title at 2 p.m. If necessary, a second championship game will be played Sunday at 11 a.m. if San Mateo loses Saturday.
The way San Mateo is playing right now, it will take an awfully strong effort from someone to beat it. In two Area 2 games, the Shockers have outscored San Bruno and Redwood City by a combined score of 28-0.
It took a while for San Mateo to solve Vau Dell, however. The Shockers loaded the bases in the first inning with one out, but Vau Dell induced a grounder that was turned into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. Vau Dell also cruised through the second and third innings, allowing only one hit in each.
In the fourth, San Mateo finally got to Vau Dell and the wheels fell off. The Shockers sent 10 batters to the plate and scored six runs on six hits. Aaron Albaum had the first big hit of the uprising, drilling an opposite-field, two-run single to right to put San Mateo up 2-0. A third run scored on a Redwood City error.
With Albaum and Ryan Cuddy on base and two outs, catcher Jason Marley stepped to the plate and on a 1-0 count, launched a shot to deep center field that one-hopped the softball diamond at the other end of the park. As the ball rolled through the softball field infield, Marley raced around the bases for a three-run home run and a comfortable 6-0 lead.
It was one of four hits Marley had on the night.
It may not have been Marley’s biggest hit, but it’s right up there.
“The [home run] at Terra Nova was a blast,” said Marley, referring to the towering shot he hit for Carlmont when the Scots clinched the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division crown this spring.
“But that (shot I hit Friday night) was probably the hardest (hit).”
The Shockers then tacked on single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Cuddy drove in Matt Seubert in the fifth and Phil Caulfield scored on an error in the sixth.
That offense was more than enough for Hubbell, who rarely found himself in trouble despite walking five batters. Only one Redwood City batter made it as far as third base against Hubbell, but that was the only real scoring chance the Blues had against him.
The few times Hubbell appeared to lose his command, a quick visit from either Sargent or Marley quickly settled him and he returned to his dominant ways.
“He had a lot more control today (than during the high school season),” said Marley, who caught Hubbell several times during the spring.
“His slider was filthy, his changeup was filthy. It was one of the better games I’ve seen him pitch, stuff wise.”
Sargent said the only reason he went out to talk to Hubbell was just to settle him down.
“He’s so competitive that sometimes I just go out there to give him a breather,” Sargent said.
In an elimination game earlier in the day, Palo Alto stayed alive with a 11-10 win over San Bruno, knocking out the host team. Palo Alto jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two innings and were threatening to run away from San Bruno.
But San Bruno cut the lead to 5-4 before Palo Alto got some breathing room in taking a 7-4 lead. In the top of the eighth, however, San Bruno scored six times to take a 10-7 lead.
It was shortlived. Palo Alto came back with four runs in the bottom of the inning and then shut down San Bruno in the top of the ninth to record the win.