It wasn’t pretty, but the San Bruno Orioles kept pace atop the Peninsula Colt League standings with a 13-3 mercy-rule win over Daly City Tuesday night at Lara Field.
The Orioles (12-1) found themselves in unfamiliar territory in the early going, facing a three-run deficit. And while San Bruno’s six-run rally in the bottom of the second inning turned the tide, it did little to restore order to a game that, fundamentally, was spiraling out of control.
Daly City (1-13) committed six errors throughout, including three amid San Bruno’s comeback rally in the second. San Bruno’s defense wasn’t much better, totaling five errors, including three through the first two innings to help Daly City score twice in the first and once more in the second.
“Very odd game,” San Bruno manager Mike Tursi said.
But that changed when San Bruno right-hander Conor Meehan entered in relief. Meehan has been one of the mainstay arms for the first-place Orioles this summer, and he showed why by firing three scoreless innings to earn a rulebook save in the mercy-rule victory.
“That’s like the best I’ve ever felt,” Meehan said. “I just went out there and felt better than I’ve ever felt.”
Meehan struck out the side in each of his first two innings of work, and went on to record seven punch-outs while allowing just two base-runners — one via walk on a 3-2 pitch that just missed off the plate, and one on an infield error.
“Conor, you can always count on Conor to come into any situation,” Tursi said. “He’s been doing that all year.”
Otherwise, it was a cast of unlikely heroes that got the job done for San Bruno. One of the strengths of the Orioles has been their depth. With 18 players on roster, Tursi has seen plenty of weapons contribute to the team’s 12-1 record.
“That’s what I like about my team,” Tursi said. “The main kids didn’t have their day … but that’s why I love having the 18 kids (on the roster). They stay hungry, they stay ready and when they get their chance they always come through.”
No. 7 hitter Nick Solorzano enjoyed a banner night at the plate for San Bruno, going 4 for 4 with a double and four runs scored. The speedster has alternated between the No. 2 and 7 spots in the order this season, but he certainly showed a knack for turning over the order Tuesday night.
“I was feeling good,” Solorzano said. “I was feeling confident up there.”
“He’s very reliable and very smart on the bases,” Tursi said. “He and [leadoff hitter Tyler Firpo], they are both very, very fast. They set the table … and the guys at the bottom of the order picked them up.”
Both Solorzano and Firpo played a pivotal role in the comeback second.
Daly City struck first, getting to San Bruno starting pitcher Jackson Moore for a pair of runs in the opening frame. The first three Daly City batters reached to load the bases — Calvin Louie reached on an infield error, C.J. Cabanero singled to left, and Kevin Kwang walked — before Jordan Renteria socked a two-run single left.
In the second, Daly City added a run when, after Louie walked, Kwang hit an infield smash that went for a three-base error to make it 3-0.
“We haven’t had a problem scoring runs this year,” Daly City manager Chris Quintana said. “I wasn’t too concerned about holding the lead. I was really worried about the pitching.”
Quintana said he only slated two available pitchers for the game. He was ultimately forced to use three. Cabanero, the starting pitcher, fought through four innings of work, laboring through a second inning in which he faced nine San Bruno batters.
Tony Ballestrasse led off the Orioles’ comeback rally with a single to center. Solorzano followed with an infield single, and Mario Duran — who added three hits for San Bruno — singled to load the bases. Connor McKenna followed with an RBI fielder’s choice and Firpo singled home Solorzano to close the deficit to 3-2.
Then the wheels came off for the Daly City defense. One throwing error allowed McKenna to score the tying run. Then a dropped infield popup off the bat of Devin Myer brought Firpo home with the go-ahead run.
The Orioles added a run in the third, two in the fifth and four more in the walk-off, mercy-rule sixth. The game ended on a bases loaded grounder off the bat Myer with Duran crossing the plate on an error to enact the 10-run rule.
The Peninsula Colt League title looks destined to come down to a grand finale, as the two top teams in the standings — the Orioles and the Redwood City Ravens — meet in the final regular-season game of the summer, next Thursday at Lara Field at 6 p.m. While Redwood City (10-1) has played two fewer games than San Bruno, the two teams are currently even in the loss column.