Jesse Orozco and Greg Gonzalez stood upon the bullpen mound and watched as their alma mater Capuchino took on Burlingame in a classic Friday night matchup at Washington Park.
It couldn’t have been more fitting for Cap to showcase the best one-two punch to pitch at the school since Orozco and Gonzalez’s sensational senior season of 2005. The Mustangs marched out junior left-hander Joe Galea for five innings then turned to fireballing senior right-hander Rory McDaid in the sixth.
Even though Burlingame went on to win 4-3, it’s clear that Capuchino means business this season. And it will be the arms of Galea and McDaid which decide how far this Mustangs team will go.
“I’d say this is the best pitching staff I’ve had since the ’05 team with Orozco and Gonzalez,” Wilson said.
Behind Orozco and Gonzalez in 2005, Cap advanced to the Central Coast Section Division II semifinals. To put that into perspective, only two other times in school history has Cap baseball advanced as far. In 2003 the Mustangs reached the Division III semis and in 1981 they advanced to the championship game only to lose 4-0 to St. Francis. Since 2005, they have not surpassed the CCS quarterfinals.
Orozco and Gonzalez both went on to prestigious careers. After both pitched at Skyline College, they took different paths. Orozco became the first of four Skyline players to transfer to Oklahoma Baptist, which has since become one of the most dominant NAIA baseball programs in the nation. Gonzalez transferred to Fresno State where he threw a no-hitter before being drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2011.
“They were lights out. Those guys definitely brought it to the table every time they went out there,” Capuchino manager Matt Wilson said. “They were guys that loved baseball and gave it a hundred percent every time out. And this (year’s) team reminds me so much of those guys.”
Capuchino is off to a great start in 2014 with a 13-4 overall record. And before Friday night, the Mustangs — playing out of the b-league Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division this season — had won six straight non-league games. They have beaten both West Catholic Athletic League St. Ignatius (9-6) and PAL Bay Division Half Moon Bay (8-6) thus far. And their four losses have come across some tough customers in Leland (9-6), Pinole Valley (7-4-1), rival Mills and Burlingame.
“I scheduled a tough schedule on purpose because that’s the kind of character I want these guys to have,” Wilson said. “No matter who you play you play at a high level. And going into league, how tough our league is, you’ve got to play those tough games.”
Galea, after taking the loss Friday, falls to 4-2 but leads the Mustangs in ERA (1.44), innings pitched (39) and strikeouts (47). McDaid paces the team with a 4-1 record while trailing just behind his southpaw counterpart with 33 2-3 innings pitched and 45 strikeouts. The tandem also ranks one-two in the Ocean Division in strikeouts.
Meanwhile, Capuchino didn’t sit on its Friday loss very long. The Mustangs woke up for a 10:30 a.m. Saturday game and promptly walloped Balboa 12-3.
Add to the mix senior Austin Kayser and junior Antonio Martinucci, who give the Mustangs plenty of pitching depth. Kayser earned the win Saturday against Balboa to improve to 2-0. Through three starts he owns a 1.11 ERA. Martinucci is 3-1 and ranks third on the team with 21 2-3 innings pitched.
“[Martinucci] is a nice little pitcher that this year, he’s getting the relief appearances in, but he’s a guy that in the future … we may need him to start next year with McDaid leaving.”
After a one-week Ocean Division layoff due to spring break, league play resumes Tuesday and gets interesting in a hurry for the Mustangs. Currently tied for first place with Hillsdale at 3-1 in Ocean play, Cap begins a two-game series at third-place Sequoia Tuesday. The Cherokees own the second best overall record in the Ocean after Cap with a 9-3-1 mark. Next week, the Mustangs clash with Hillsdale in a two-game series.
Just four games into Ocean Division play, the three teams, including a fourth in El Camino, own three wins apiece in league.
“When I looked at the schedule at the beginning of the year, I was in awe of how competitive our league is,” Wilson said.
Having Orozco and Gonzalez in their corner, the Mustangs certainly have something that no other team in the competitive Ocean Division has.