The depth of PenCities Baseball may have prevented Tommy Ozawa from having a truly special night.
The leadoff hitter for PenCities Joe DiMaggio, Ozawa opened the season with a 3-for-3 performance in his team’s 22-3 victory over San Bruno in the Joe D League opener Tuesday night at Lara Field.
After Ozawa’s third straight single — “all to the same spot,” Ozawa said astutely of thrice shooting the ball into right field — and PenCities leading 17-0, he was lifted from the game as first-year manager John Rally began cycling in his roster of 19 players. The leadoff spot in the order ultimately batted six times in the five-inning mercy-rule game.
“That’s going to be the thing with this team,” Rally said “We’re super deep.”
Ozawa is one of several recent graduates of San Mateo High School on the PenCities roster. Instead of banking on a big graduation trip, though, Ozawa insists he is taking it easy, with Tuesday’s drive to San Bruno Park the most miles he’s logged since last Thursday’s graduation ceremony.
“Right now I’m just hitting the weight room preparing to play next year at Cañada (College),” Ozawa said. “And just taking it easy right now because it’s summer.”
He wasn’t the only Mateo grad to enjoy a big Joe D opener. Cleanup hitter Sean Tanap scorched a pair of doubles. Jack Warren — who also earned the complete-game win as the PenCities starting pitcher — blasted a two-run, inside-the-park home run to the spacious center field of Lara Field. Kilmer Sanchez added an RBI single and a sacrifice fly.
The PenCities Joe D roster is stacked much in part to the PenCities White Sox transitioning from the Palomino League to the College Summer Baseball level. Ozawa played up in the Palomino League last year, but found out in April he would have to return to the Joe D League this year.
“Once I saw all my friends were in it, and there were a lot of good names on here, I knew it was going to be a fun season,” Ozawa said.
PenCities certainly had some fun Tuesday, rallying for two runs in the first inning before sending 14 batters to the plate during an eight-run second. They went on to add seven more in the third.
The only thing that went San Bruno’s way through the first three innings was a defensive play by the unlikeliest of fielders — Beau the German Shepherd, the 4-year-old dog of San Bruno fan Dusty Steenvoorde, who was sitting down the left-field line.
Steenvoorde and a group of San Bruno fans were sitting in the out-of-play area down the line, but Beau happened to be lying in the field of play. When Tanap socked his second double of the game over the third-base bag, the live ball curled into foul territory and rolled right into Beau, who proved to have Tanap played perfectly.
Otherwise, it was a rough go for San Bruno first-year manager Tony Rohatch, a San Bruno native and 1991 graduate of Capuchino. Rohatch said this season marks his “coming full circle,” as he himself once played San Bruno Joe D.
San Bruno did get its new skipper some runs. In the fourth inning, Anthony Ghillardi produced a two-run double to knock in Nico Uroz and Joel Mueller. And in the fifth, Cruise Thompson led off the inning with a rocket double into the right-field corner. Thompson eventually scored on an RBI groundout off the bat of Kenny Osterlund.
Warren closed on the five-inning CG two batters later though. The left-hander — who is bound for the Division III program of Caltech next season — was San Mateo’s most durable starter in 2019, posting a 6-4 record with a 2.69 ERA through 54 2/3 innings.
Every other PenCities player in uniform got playing time behind the ace lefty.
“Right now we have a lot of talent,” Ozawa said. “Any team we put out there is going to be a competitive team.”