At the halfway point of the Peninsula Colt Baseball League schedule, the San Bruno Orioles are perched squarely atop the standings.
After splitting a doubleheader with the second-place Pacifica Lions Saturday at San Bruno Park, the Orioles (8-1) are 2 1/2 games ahead of the Lions (6-4), and seem to have a glaring advantage over the rest of the league.
With Capuchino High School carrying an abundance of underclassmen on its varsity baseball roster in the spring, all six of sophomores opted to forgo playing up with the Joe DiMaggio League team and keep the gang together in the Colt League ranks.
“They fed off it (at Cap),” San Bruno manager Mike Tursi said. “Everybody knew their roles this year. … Those sophomores came up, they made a big contribution, and we’re very excited about their future.”
With traditional summer league teams contending with the bigger picture in competing with the allure of travel baseball teams to try and to fill out rosters, summer squads like San Bruno and PenCities (San Mateo, Foster City and Belmont-Redwood Shores) are trying to put a blueprint in place to grow their city baseball cultures going into the future.
PenCities is on the vanguard, fielding two teams in the Peninsula Colt League this season. South City also has two teams in the league. San Bruno, meanwhile, is banking plenty on its core six players coming off their sophomore years: Nick Balch, Tyler Firpo, Ryan Lapuyade, Connor Meehan, Devin Meyer and Frankie Pellegrini.
“It’s very unique having six of our starters playing varsity baseball,” Tursi said.
Those sophomores were on display Saturday at Lara Field, getting the Orioles back on track after their first loss of the season 9-2 in the early game. Meehan had a solid day at the plate, combining to go 3 for 7 through both games, then shouldered the load in Game 2 by grinding for a win in his first starting pitching appearance of the summer to front San Bruno’s 7-2 victory.
The right-hander worked five innings, allowing one run on two hits while proving effectively wild, totaling five walks and five strikeouts. He had one previous pitching appearance this summer in relief. Over his varsity season at Cap, he logged four appearances, all in relief as well.
“He didn’t throw a lot because he was the staple of our defense (at shortstop) on varsity,” Tursi said. “He’s rested and he just throws strikes. He forces contact, and that’s what you need.”
Meehan and the Orioles’ starting shortstop in Game 2, Meyer, traded spots effectively. Meyer took over on the mound in the sixth inning and promptly induced a double-play grounder to Ballestrasse at second base, who flipped to Meehan for the twin-killing turn.
Meyer — who has a no-hitter to his credit this year, firing one for Cap on May 1 against Burlingame — worked two innings to close out the win, allowing one run on four hits.
Pacifica showcased a Meyer of its own in Game 1, as starting pitcher Cam Meyer did what no other Colt League pitcher has been able to do this summer — score a win over San Bruno. Cam Meyer allowed just two runs (one earned) on two hits through six innings, and right-hander Drew Azzopardi worked a scoreless seventh to close it out.
“We swung the bats in the first game,” Pacifica manager Nate Uter said. “And Cam Meyer was lights out on the mound.”
Pacifica had been scuffling at the plate, and has been shut out twice this season: 3-0 to South City on May 18; and 8-0 to PenCities on May 22. The previous Saturday, on June 1, however, the Lions woke up to score more runs than they had in their five previous games with a 9-0 win over the C&L Mudcats-South City.
“Offense has been our struggle,” Nate Uter said. “But the bats have been coming around the last week.”
Dillon Arrastio led the hit parade Saturday in Game 1, going 3 for 4 with an RBI while stealing three bases. Arrastio added two hits in Game 2 to go 5 for 8 on the day.
The Lions totaled 12 hits in Game 1, with Azzopardi, Julian Martinez and Connor Uter adding two hits apiece.
San Bruno totaled just two hits in the game, including on 0-for-4 showing from Firpo, the leadoff hitter. The 0-fer was significant as it marked the first game this summer Firpo didn’t reach base.
Firpo earned Daily Journal Athlete of the Week honors in March for his game-winning hit in a 4-3 victory over Cap’s rival Mills. The sophomore went on to receive just 10 at-bats for the rest of the season, however. He seems to be making up for it since the outset of Colt season.
“He didn’t play a lot but he learned a lot,” Tursi said. “… Tyler kind of sets the tone for us.”
Firpo sparked San Bruno’s offense in Game 2, leading off the game with a double. He later scored on a sacrifice fly by Meyer. The Orioles scored in the second against Pacifica starting pitcher Connor Uter to go up 2-0. The Lions cut the lead in half in the fifth on an RBI double by Arrastio.
But San Bruno broke it open in the sixth when Nick Lopez shot a bases-loaded hit with an outfield error allowing the Orioles to clear the bases on the play. San Bruno scored twice more in the seventh on back-to-back RBI knocks by Pellegrini and Meyer.