By Cyril Penn
Special to S.F. Examiner
SANTA ROSA, Calif. — With the bases loaded, two-outs and the season on the line, Marin Catholic senior starting pitcher Dylan Joyce stepped up to the plate, looking to bring his team back from a 5-2 deficit.
Trailing hosting No. 4-seed Santa Rosa-Maria Carrillo (18-9) in the North Coast Section Div. 2 Quarterfinals on Monday evening, Joyce fouled off pitch after pitch, determined that this at-bat would not mark the end of his playing days as a Wildcat.
“I was thinking about the baseball career when I went up there,” the Puget Sound commit said. “And I decided to just try and have some fun with it. This is baseball. It’s all about fun.”
As the 10th pitch of the at-bat came from Puma starter Bryce Veller’s arm, Joyce cracked a smile and laced a line drive into left field that plated two runs and brought the Wildcats (18-7) back within one. Marin Catholic’s three-run seventh inning rally, though, came up short as they fell to Maria Carrillo 5-4.
“I liked the fight we showed in the last inning, but we needed that type of fight every at-bat,” said Wildcat head coach and former San Francisco Giant Jesse Foppert. “Early on and through the middle innings I thought we just gave away some at-bats … Hats off to that team. They did a very good job. And their hitters, one through nine, put up a fight the whole game.”
Coming off a 12-day pitching layoff, Joyce wasn’t his usual self on the mound for the Wildcats. Though he struck out two of the first three batters he faced, a leadoff double from Maria Carrillo’s Bryce Cannon kicked off a rough second inning for the right-handed hurler that spotted the hosts an early 3-0 advantage.
After giving up only five earned runs and four walks in 34 1/3 innings through the entire season, Joyce couldn’t recreate his regular-season magic in Santa Rosa. He finished with 2 2/3 innings pitched, allowing five runs – three earned – while giving up five hits and equaling his season total of walks.
“Nothing was going on with his arm, he’s just had a long layoff,” Foppert said. “He did a great job getting ahead and then just gave them too good of looks with two strikes. Just a little too much plate.”
Joyce added: “When I missed my spots, Maria Carrillo took advantage of it. They had it rolling, honestly. They had a good vibe, which was awesome to see, and I hope they go real far in playoffs.”
The Pumas built a five-run advantage through three innings before Foppert sent Cal commit Vaughn Mauterer in to relieve him. With Veller doing a great job varying his arm slots – mixing in a sidearm delivery, traditional delivery and even quick-pitch technique – the Wildcat hitters were kept on their heels all evening.
Marin Catholic managed to push in a run in the top of the fifth, after a one-out double from junior Frankie Donnelly and subsequent stolen base ended in a Donnelly run due to a controversial balk from Veller.
Donnelly was the most consistent option at the plate for the Wildcats, going 2-for-2 with a single and double, walk and two steals while scoring a pair of runs. Yet, he could have potentially scored three runs on the day. The speedy outfielder was gunned down at home plate in the top of the second after trying to score from second on a shallow single from junior Ryan Cendack.
While advancing beyond the section quarterfinals for the first time in four years was the team goal, Joyce wrote a message to his teammates on the Marin Catholic whiteboard before the opening round of playoffs that simply read, “Have fun.”
“You never know when this stuff will end,” he said. “You never know when an injury could happen. I told them, ‘Let’s just take it pitch by pitch and just be happy and thankful for what we’re doing.’”
Although the loss ends the high school baseball career for Marin Catholic’s seniors, players like Joyce, Mauterer, Old Dominion commit Jay Tarkenton, Richmond commit Eli Larson and Oregon commit Addison Berger are only just beginning their baseball journeys.
“I’m excited for what is ahead for those outgoing seniors,” Foppert smiled. “And as far as the returners go, the season starts tomorrow.”