APTOS — When the summertime hits, some college baseball players have trouble finding a league they can play to continue getting better. One local option is the San Mateo Rounders, a team that has attracted players mostly from Northern California.
The Rounders' playoff hopes came to an end on Sunday afternoon as they dropped the first game of a doubleheader to the Fontanetti's Athletics 11-3 at Cabrillo College. The Rounders, who needed a sweep to to force a one-game playoff, dropped the second game 5-4 to finish 8-8 in the Stan Musial League. They are 13-26 with a couple exhibition games and a tournament in Long Beach left on the schedule.
The players were still upbeat in the dugout even with the loss eliminating them from playoff contention. Although winning games for the Rounders is important, making individual improvements is a big reason why most of these players are in this league.
“Getting this extra work in during the summer has been a great opportunity,” said Michael Nazar, who plays catcher at City College of San Francisco. “As long as you produce in the games, you will get plenty of reps.”
Rounders coach Eric Burns is a big believer that his team can help kids hone their game.
“This is a chance for kids to get live [at-bats] and work on other parts of their game that needs improving,” he said. “This is only our second year as a team, but we have been able to make it work so far and have received a lot of interest. It's also a chance for fans to come catch a baseball game for free.”
The Rounders had more success in their first year, winning three playoff games and recorded a trip to the NorCal collegiate championship tournament.
Easton Withers, a pitcher at Ohlone College in Fremont, wants to play baseball for as long as he can and also believes playing for the Rounders is an opportunity to get better.
“I'll play until my right arm falls off,” he said.
The Rounders are also involved in a Netherlands exchange program. Last season, two players from the Netherlands, Max Dito and Laurens Oele, came to the U.S. to play with the Rounders. This year, the Rounders sent San Mateo native Greg Hansen to pitch for the AdoLakers.
The AdoLakers compete in the Hoofdklasse, which is considered to be the big leagues of The Netherlands. The Rounders hope to be more involved with this exchange program in the coming years.
The Rounders program also gives former college baseball players, such as Tony Cooper, a chance to be a player-coach. “It's pretty cool being able to come out here, I get to coach and get some live action every once in a while,” said the former Pepperdine Wave.
It seems the San Mateo Rounders are shaping up to be a solid destination for college kids that want to continue playing baseball during the summertime.