Burlingame had some big shoes to fill at shortstop this season.
Graduating a pair of shortstops in Vince Arobio and Phil Caulfield — both of whom are now playing in college — the Panthers turned to junior Andrew Kennedy to take over the vital defensive position. With an injury to Kennedy at the outset of the season, however, Burlingame manager Shawn Scott had to get creative. So, he called upon another junior in Ryan Kammuller to fill the void.
Entering into Friday night’s matchup with Capuchino hitting .207 on the season, Kammuller showed up big time, going 2 for 2 with a sacrifice fly and a run scored to pace Burlingame to a 4-3 victory under the lights at Washington Park.
“We’ve been on a two-game losing streak,” Kammuller said. “We weren’t doing so well. And I’ve been having a rough last couple nights … but I saw the ball well tonight.”
Burlingame (4-6) has had trouble getting any kind of rhythm going this season. As of yet, the Panthers haven’t won back-to-back games. And they’ve missed three games thus far due to rain.
Scott’s squad answered the call Friday though, responding to their manager’s up-tempo game calling from the dugout which had Burlingame in the flow from the get-go.
Burlingame right-hander Chris Brownlow soldiered through bouts of wildness to earn the win, improving his record to 2-3. The senior walked just one, but hit one batsman and threw three wild pitches.
Cap left-hander Joe Galea took the loss. The junior worked five inning, allowing four runs on six hits while striking out seven.
Amazingly, Brownlow didn’t notch any strikeouts, instead forcing Capuchino to put the ball in play.
With the Mustangs hitting .281 as a team this season, they continued to square up contact Friday but managed just seven hits. According to Cap manager Matt Wilson, it could have been a lot more.
“We stung the ball tonight,” Wilson said. “We hit the ball hard tonight, just right at guys. And that’s the game of baseball. Sometimes it falls for you, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Scott absolutely agreed.
“They hit a lot of at ‘em balls,” Scott said. “Their hitters did a good job of capitalizing on balls up. We just happened to have gloves at the other end of it. … The kids have a lot of heart over there and it shows the way they play the game.”
The Mustangs took an early lead in the second. Cap sophomore Ramon Enriquez shot a one-out double to right. Anthony Orcholski followed with a chopper to third that was mishandled by the Burlingame infield, though Enriquez was unable to advance. After a fielder’s choice off the bay of Samuel Caliz moved Enriquez to third, Antonio Martinucci came through with a two-out single to left to score Enriquez, giving Cap a 1-0 lead.
Brownlow was nails by pitching out of trouble in the fourth though. Cap got the first two runners of the inning on base, with Enriquez reaching on an infield error and Orcholski singling to left. But Brownlow buckled down with three straight outs to strand two, keeping Cap’s 1-0 lead in check.
Galea dealt through the first three frames for the Mustangs. After a one-out double to Kammuller in the first, Galea settled in to set down seven of the next eight batters he faced including four strikeouts.
But in the fourth, the Panthers went large. Kammuller again got to Galea, this time for a leadoff single. After a failed bunt attempt by Will Lambson — the sophomore was in the game as a replacement after right fielder Jonathan Engelmann left in the second with an injury — four straight Burlingame batters reached base with a rally that didn’t have to be.
After cleanup hitter Mitchell Swanson scorched a single to left, Kennedy hit a would-be double play ball to short. Instead of getting out of the inning though, Cap made an errant throw on the backend to allow Kammuller to plate with the tying run and to extend the inning.
Ryan Weeks followed with a flare to center to score Kennedy, with Weeks moving up to second on an errant throw to the plate. Dominic Garcia added one more with an RBI single that shot off the glove of a diving attempt by Cap third baseman Rory McDaid, giving Burlingame a 3-1 lead.
In the fifth, Burlingame added an insurance run. Kaleb Keelean sparked the rally with a bunt single to lead off the inning. Keelean moved to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a sacrifice by Griffin Intrieri. Then Kammuller delivered a booming sacrifice fly to center to drive home Keelean, giving the Panthers a 4-1 lead.
“They laid down amazing bunts,” Galea said. “They were right down the line, there was no way we could defend them. Their guy hit a changeup right off the end of the bat, a [blooper] and nobody could make a play. Then we had a couple passed balls, they stole a couple bases, and things just kind of fell apart.”
Cap didn’t go down without a fight though. In the sixth, the Mustangs answered back to close to within a run. Galea led off with a single to right. Orcholski followed with a one-out single to move Galea to second. After the runners moved up on a groundout by Caliz, Galea scored on a wild pitch and Orcholski scored two pitches later on a passed ball, cutting Burlingame’s lead to 4-3.
Burlingame stuck with Brownlow though, and the senior pitched through a one-out single in the seventh to close it out for his second complete game of the year. He threw 89 pitches throughout. Scott expressed absolute faith in his starter to give him free reign in the seventh.
“Let him have it,” Scott said. “He’s a senior. He’s earned it. He scuffled all night long but he understands how to pitch.”
McDaid worked a scoreless sixth in relief for the Mustangs, inducing three groundouts. With the depth of pitching on this year’s Cap squad, Wilson said he feels it is the best Mustangs pitching staff since 2005 when Jesse Orozco and Greg Gonzalez led the team to the Central Coast Section Division II semifinals — a feat the program has not since surpassed.