A mercy-rule romp, followed by a walk-a-thon first inning, the opening night doubleheader at the Colt Regional Tournament got off to a rough start.
Then one sterling defensive play turned the tide.
With six-team field in the Colt Regional tourney at Washington Park, four teams opened play Monday. PenCities rallied late for a 12-0 mercy-rule victory over Campbell No. 2 in the opener. San Bruno then topped Los Altos-Mountain View in the nightcap 12-5.
San Bruno was scuffling in the fifth inning, though. After taking an 8-3 lead into the top of the frame, Los Altos rallied against the San Bruno bullpen to close it to 8-5 and had the bases loaded with one out. Manager Mike Tursi then made a pivotal double-switch, bringing in not only closing pitcher Conor Meehan, but also inserting Connor McKenna at third base.
Two pitches later, Los Altos’ No. 3 hitter Nathan Bonfilio hit a smash to McKenna’s backhand at the hot corner. McKenna responded with a backhand snag to start an inning-ending 5-3 twin-killing to retire the side.
“If he doesn’t make that play it’s a whole different story,” Tursi said. “That was huge.”
San Bruno rallied for four runs in the top of the sixth to put the game on ice.
Starting pitcher Frankie Pellegrini earned the win, working five innings after it looked as though he might not escape the first.
The right-hander allowing three runs on two hits and struck out three, but walked six. Four of those walks came in the first inning as he faced eight batters — including the first five batters of the game reaching base — but he limited Los Altos to two runs. One of them was unearned on a throwing error by right fielder Ryan Lapuyade.
Lapuyade made up for the miscue big time. Not only was he 2 for 3 with four RBIs at the plate, he turned in a defensive gem to end the second inning. After San Bruno tied it 2-2 in the bottom of the first, Los Altos swung back out front 3-2. But Lapuyade kept the one-run deficit in check, covering a bunch of ground to race into foul territory and tackle the turf of Washington Park for a spectacle of a diving catch.
Pellegrini went on to work three more innings without yielding a run.
“Once Frankie settled down, like we knew he would, the whole tone of the game changed,” Tursi said.
San Bruno rallied for three runs in the bottom of the third to take the lead for good.
Meyer — who was 1 for 3 with three RBIs at the plate — worked 1 2/3 innings of relief to notch the save.
With the win, San Bruno advances through the winners’ bracket of the double-elimination tourney to face Campbell No. 1 Tuesday at Washington Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The pitching of PenCities went a little more smoothly in the opener as Kyle Sieben worked four scoreless frames to front a staff shutout in the 12-0 victory over Campbell No. 2.
PenCities — a combined roster of the two PenCities teams that played in the Peninsula Colt League during the regular season — scored single runs in the second and fourth. So, when acting manager Neil Goldstein went to his bullpen, Sieben exited with a mere 2-0 lead.
“I don’t like coming out of games,” Sieben said. “So, it wasn’t the best feeling. But knowing he wants to keep me for another game, a more meaningful game, that’s pretty special.”
The early exit was strategic, though, in that it kept Sieben’s pitch-count down. With pitch-count limits enforced in the tournament, he will now be available to pitch in the later rounds.
“He threw good,” Goldstein said. “It got a little wild in the fourth, which is why I took him out.”
After posting a 4-1 record during the regular season — including a complete game the previous week in the Bay Area Showcase at University of San Francisco — Sieben faced the minimum through the first two innings Monday. Patrick Mori and Jeremy Penos worked an inning apiece to preserve the shutout, with PenCities adding four runs in the fifth and six more in the top of the sixth to record the mercy-rule win.
PenCities advances through the winners’ bracket to face South San Francisco Tuesday night at Washington Park. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Campbell No. 1 and South San Francisco each drew first-round byes in the tourney, which concludes Saturday, with championship play starting at 11 a.m.