At the sun-baked Northern California Community College Super Regional playoffs Saturday, Jim Davenport sat atop the bleachers on the hill overlooking the College of San Mateo diamond, working a chew like baseball poetry in motion, as he watched his grandson Nick Davenport catch a complete-game gem.
Mother’s Day cooled off Sunday, though it was a rollercoaster afternoon for the CSM moms. Clay Bauer gave a brilliant performance as his mother Cheryl cheered or cringed with each of his 157 pitches. Freshman catcher Logan Trowbridge’s mom appeared calmer, but was subtly on the edge of her seat throughout the afternoon. Belle, the Trowbridge’s family bulldog, may be the only attendee that enjoyed a relaxing weekend.
CSM was ultimately eliminated from its fourth consecutive Super Regional appearance with a pair of loses to Cosumnes River. Despite the disappointing outcome, the family response seemed unanimous. Be it parent or grandparent, there was no place they’d rather be on Mother’s Day weekend than at the topsy-turvy ball yard for postseason play.
Upon spotting someone with a scorebook in the late innings, Davenport was quick to inquire: “How’s my boy doing?”
It was a tough series at the plate for Nick Davenport – 1 fof 7 with a hit by pitch – but it’s the job he did behind the plate Saturday that is noteworthy. Having already lost one game in the double-elimination tourney, CSM rose to the challenge of a must-win doubleheader nightcap. Despite being hampered by a groin injury, Davenport went the distance along with starting pitcher Dylan Nelson.
His grandfather Jim was a Gold Glove third baseman, and the prowess seems to run in the family. Nick worked an expert job behind the dish, hooking up with Nelson in just the second start of the freshman’s collegiate career. Nelson had already pitched in the series, earning a save in 2/3 innings of relief to follow Danny Chavez’s gem in the Friday opener.
Nelson served as the go-to reliever for CSM this season, totaling a 6-0 record, while earning four saves. The sturdy right-hander had plenty of starting experience as a prep star at Galileo H.S. of San Francisco, though. And, he seemed to pick up right where he left off as a high school star – in the clutch.
The final game Nelson threw for Galileo was in the AAA section championship game in 2010, throwing a 130-pitch complete game to earn the 20th win of his prep career, while leading Galileo to its first section crown in 32 years. With CSM set to graduate the entirety of its regular-season starting rotation, it would seem Nelson has a leg up in claiming a spot in the 2013 Bulldogs rotation.
Saturday’s performance against Diablo Valley was as seamless as though Nelson and Davenport had been wheeling-and-dealing every fifth day up until that point. Nelson had a one-hitter in tact through seven innings – at one point setting down 11 in a row – and didn’t allow a run until the ninth. He ultimately allowed two runs on six hits.
As for Davenport, hitting or not, the baseball lineage speaks for itself. His father Gary is currently the hitting coach for Giants High-A affiliate San Jose. His grandfather Jim is a former All-Star and Gold Glove third baseman for the Giants, managed the team in 1985, and now serves as Special Assistant in the front office.
There wasn’t anyone at the yard that could beat Cheryl Bauer’s passion for the game, though. She was accompanied by her husband and daughter, though they kept their distance to let Cheryl do her thing – shouting encouragement to Clay, yelling objections with umpires – essentially, living and dying with every pitch.
In the first game of a must-win doubleheader on championship Sunday for CSM, Bauer threw into the ninth inning with a 6-4 lead, but forced CSM head coach Doug Williams’ hand when he walked the potential tying run. The Bulldogs bullpen failed to save it for Bauer, as Diablo Valley tied it at 6-6. No sooner had the tying run scored did Cheryl’s eyes well up with tears.
Although the Bulldogs would go on to win the first game in 11 innings, they fell to Cosumnes 13-3 in the finale. And, in falling after five games in three days, the tears were contagious among Clay Bauer and his exhausted teammates; overwhelmed with disappointment that their season was ending too soon.