Home field advantage is something that all athletes look forward to.
There has been no such advantage for the College of Marin Baseball Team this season with field construction underway. Displaced since the beginning of the school year, the Mariners have practiced throughout the county and played all games outside of Marin.
Despite their situation, the Mariners had one of the most successful seasons in program history earning their second consecutive Bay Valley Conference Title, and the program's fifth in the last six years. Overall, the Mariners finished the regular season 27-12, and 16-5 in conference play to win the title by a single game.
With this incredible season the Mariners earned the six seed in the state playoffs, and the right to host the first round of the playoffs at Laney College. The Mariners faced off against the College of San Mateo Bulldogs. They clobbered their opponents in the first game of the series, but ultimately fell in three games to San Mateo.
The accomplishments of the team are due in large part to a lot of individual successes of its members.
In 13 regular season starts, sophomore left handed pitcher and local Terra Linda product Chris Allen pitched thrown on 10 different college campuses. Despite the constant change of scenery, Allen put together the best season for a pitcher in College of Marin history.
Through those 13 starts, Allen was a perfect 12-0, with his only no decision coming behind 7.1 shutout innings at Mendocino College, a game the Mariners would win in extra innings. Allen threw 93.2 innings on the year, pitching to a 1.06 ERA with 94 strikeouts and only 22 walks.
Allen now holds multiple College of Marin records starting with wins in a season (12), single season ERA (1.06), and is tied for career wins (15).
In nonconference competition, Allen was 6-0, picking up big wins against perennial playoff teams such as Sierra College, Feather River College, College of San Mateo and College of the Sequoias. The bulk of his work came in Bay Valley Conference play, where he did not give up an earned run until his final start. Against Los Medanos College on April 24th, his eight innings of three run ball clinched the Mariners a Bay Valley Conference Championship.
Allen's best start of the season came against Laney College on April 10th. After giving up a hit to the first batter of the game, Allen retired 21 straight hitters before giving up a walk in the 8th. In what would be his 1st career complete game, Allen hurled a one hitter striking out eight Laney batters. Not to be outdone, his next start against Solano College saw him give up only two hits in eight innings.
A Trio of Early Division 1 Signings
The primary goal for many College of Marin players is to move on and play at the next level. For three sophomores, this goal came true early as their strong sophomore seasons resulted in Division I scholarship opportunities. Pitcher Chris Allen (University of Hawaii), right fielder Jake Munoz (University of San Francisco), and shortstop Alex Davis (San Jose State University) all have committed to the respective schools for next fall.
Munoz (Lewiston, Idaho), who hits at the top of the Mariners order is hitting .338 with a .531 OBP, 2 HR's and 32 RBI's. He 2 HR's are 2nd on the Mariners to go along with his 8 2B's and 2 3B's. Munoz is also tied for the state lead in walks with 46 in 194 plate appearances.
Davis (Tamalpais HS), who hits in the middle of the Mariners order, is hitting .338 with a .453 OBP. His 38 RBI's lead the Mariners to go along with his 12 2B's and 2 3B's. He has also started every game at shortstop for the Mariners this season.
A sophomore heavy group led the Mariners on both sides of the field this season, with a few shaking off tough starts to excel in conference play.
Left fielder Adam Hussain (Redwood HS) has been a big bat in the middle of the order for the Mariners this season, and has put himself in the conversation for Conference Player of the year. While his overall slash line of .381/.461/.576 is above average, his conference play has been even better sitting at .447/.510/.671. Three of his team leading four homeruns have come in conference play as well as 25 of his 34 RBI's. His 15 2B's overall lead the team.
Catcher James Harwell (San Marcos, CA) began slow in the first couple weeks of the season before bouncing back to have a big year. Overall Harwell is hitting .353/.449/.426, and in Bay Valley Conference play is .383/.480/.457. His ability to handle the pitching staff and be a leader has also been noticeable.
Center fielder Christian Merriwether (Castro Valley HS) has made the biggest jump from Pre Season to Conference play going from .276/.379/.355 to .353/.444/.494. He also leads the team with 14 stolen bases as well as his award worthy defense in centerfield.
#2 Starting pitcher Jason Wutsch (Casa Grande HS) has complemented ace Chris Allen incredibly well going 4-1 in 11 starts. His 2.89 ERA is 3rd on the team and he has been in form as of late. His best start came April 19th against Solano College in which he threw 7.2 innings giving up just one run. With a fastball starting to touch 90mph at the end of the year, Jason looks to have a big impact in the state playoffs.
Starting 3rd baseman and #3 pitcher Dominic Burke (San Marin HS) has done it all for the Mariners this season. Despite a 4-6 record on the mound, Burke has just a 3.90 ERA overall in 60 innings pitched. After hitting over .320 and serving as the leadoff hitter as a freshman, Burke moved into the middle of the order this season and has produced 16 RBI's. His biggest contribution comes on the defensive end as he has committed zero errors at 3rd base and on the mound. His perfect fielding percentage leads the state.
Three freshman arms were thrown straight into the fire in the 2018 season with much success to lead the Mariner bullpen.
Leading the bullpen has been closer Nick Roth (Drake HS) who is tied for the state lead in saves with 10. The bullpen was something new to Roth as he served as a starter for four years at Drake. However, he had no problem transitioning to the bullpen as his 30.1 innings lead all relievers to go with his 3.26 ERA and 34 strikeouts.
Owen Hamilton (Sir Francis Drake HS), a high school teammate of Roth has been just as successful helping bridge the gap to the closer going 3-1 with a 2.14 ERA in 21 innings.
Micahel Benz (Redwood HS), has thrown 23.2 innings good for 5th on the team. Dominant early in the season, Benz had some tougher outing later in the season, but has always thrown in high stress situations.