Terry Bernal/Daily Journal
Belmont-Redwood Shores’ Drew Dowd scores the game-winning run to give his team a
16-15 win over San Mateo American in the District 52 Majors tournament. The two will face off again today to decided the championship.
Belmont-Redwood Shores and San Mateo American saved plenty of fireworks for Monday’s District 52 Majors All-Star Tournament semifinal at Red Morton Park. And with each team facing elimination, the two squads burned the proverbial barn down to the ground.
Belmont-Redwood Shores ultimately prevailed, scoring a dramatic 16-15 walk-off win. In the bottom of the sixth, with Drew Dowd on second, Stevie Dong rocketed a clutch RBI knock up the gap in left-center to end it.
With the win, BRS advances to Tuesday championship round to face powerhouse Pacifica American. Entering through the losers’ bracket, BRS needs two wins to advance to the Section 3 tourney. Undefeated Pacifica need win only once.
“[A win] like this gives you confidence and makes you believe,” BRS manager Steve Robinson said. “And Pacifica is obviously a very dominant team. They are the Goliath, or they feel they are. And they’ve earned it. So, we’re going to go out there and see what we can do.”
A funny thing about Dong’s sixth-inning heroics, though. His game-winning hit came after he missed the bunt sign on two previous pitches.
“I gave him the bunt sign twice and he missed the sign,” Coach Robinson said. “But it was meant to be for Stevie. He squared up a good fastball. I’m happy it wasn’t a blooper or a bleeder. It was a solid line drive in the gap.”
There were two huge swings on the scoreboard through the opening four innings, which saw BRS leading 9-4 after two innings before San Mateo jumped out to an 11-10 lead after four.
But the real drama unfolded in the fifth. San Mateo scored four times in the top of the frame. After three errors and two hit batsmen, Jace Jeremiah punctuated the inning with a two-run triple to give San Mateo a 15-10 lead. But BRS stormed back in the bottom of the inning. With one run already home, BRS loaded the bases. Then with two outs, cleanup hitter Tyler McCabe came through with the swing of his life by launching a grand slam to tie it 15-15.
“Tyler had been struggling tonight,” Coach Robinson said. “He was scuffling in the field, scuffling with a couple strikeouts early. But he’s a good kid … and he’s an emotional player. So, it was big for him to have that big hit to put us back in the game.”
BRS got the barn burner cooking in the first by jumping out to a 5-0 lead. Daylin McLemore got his team on the board with a three-run home run. Ben Fong followed with a two-run blast.
But San Mateo answered right back with four in the top of the second. Jack Haggerman led off the frame with a double. After he plated with the first run, Peyton Halpin hit a three-run home to close BRS’ lead to 5-4.
“We’re a good hitting team across the board,” San Mateo manger Ken Clayton said. “I changed my lineup a little bit and put more of my power hitters up front. They’re consistent. And we answered them. We came right back in the second inning.”
In turn, BRS scored four more in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by a three-RBI swing of the bat by Aidan Feeley.
So, San Mateo promptly scored four more runs in the top of the third, taking advantage of three BRS errors in the inning. Then in the fourth, San Mateo jumped into the lead. Tristan Dewing singling to start the rally. Dewing eventually scored the tying run and Luke Bottari plated with the go-ahead run on an infield error, with San Mateo eventually taking an 11-9 lead. But BRS scored a run in the bottom of the fifth to close to within a run, setting the stage for the final two dramatic innings.
BRS right-hander McLemore provided the key shutdown inning in the top of the sixth. Facing the heart of the San Mateo batting order, he set down the side in order for the only 1-2-3 inning of the game for either team.
“He shut them down and we carried the momentum into the bottom of the sixth,” Coach Robinson said.