The San Mateo Post 82 American Legion baseball team will vie for its sixth straight Area 2 championship Tuesday evening after beating San Bruno 4-2 in the winners’ bracket final Monday afternoon at San Bruno Park.
San Bruno, which suffered its first loss in the tournament, will the play the winner between Palo Alto and Redwood City at 4 p.m. Wednesday for a chance to play San Mateo for the championship at 7 p.m. San Mateo would need to be beaten twice to be denied a spot in the state tournament in Yountville.
Monday’s result was a far cry from Friday night’s laugher, a game in which San Mateo buried San Bruno 18-2 in the final game of the regular season.
San Bruno proved that result was a fluke.
“They had no players Friday,” said San Mateo assistant coach Rick Lavezzo. “They had some players [Monday].”
In fact, Post 82 had to come from behind to secure a spot in the championship game. San Bruno took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but San Mateo pitcher Cavlin Riley kept it in check through the seventh. Riley allowed just the one run on five hits before being lifted for reliever Michael Valdez in the eighth.
San Bruno scratched out its second run of the game against Valdez, with Angelo Bortolin stroking an RBI double. Valdez settled down, however, striking out the side in both the eighth and ninth innings.
The San Mateo offense, meanwhile, took a while to get into gear.
“Their kid (Jean Paul Abourette) threw a great game,” Lavezzo said.
Post 82 finally broke through with two runs in the fifth on a Christian Conci two-out, two-run double.
San Mateo tacked on a run in the seventh, scoring an unearned run when the San Bruno left fielder could not handle Neil Sterling’s fly ball. Post 82 added an insurance run in the eighth. Riley doubled and came home on an error on a Ryan Cuddy fly ball.