Bishop O'Dowd Baseball Wins 3rd Straight Game vs. Piedmont Led by MLB-scouted Caden Wooster and Co.
By: Nathan Rogers
A famous American sports journalist during the 1970s and 80s, Howard Cosell, once said, "sport is human life in microcosm".
The beauty of sports removes people from what many people may experience as a busy, overwhelming, and taxing life. Playing, coaching, cheering, watching, reporting — whatever it may entail — being involved with sports allows people to embody the idea of being associated with something; something that provides a sense of identity, a sense of acceptance.
This ideal is especially apparent when attending and rooting for a school. Whether it be middle school, highschool, or college, school passion is unparalleled. The reasoning behind school passion being like no other is that students, teachers, and parents all form the school. Whereas with pro sports, the billion-dollar organization is run by owners, investors, coaches, and the fans are a counterpart — more of a stream of income than a source of team culture.
In the case of Wednesday's (3/9) game between a visiting Bishop O'Dowd squad from just a quick trip down highway 580 and the hosting Piedmont Highlander team, the setting of school passion and team culture was apparent with regular longtime O'Dowd and Piedmont families, coaches, and former players in attendance. But, it wasn't just a high school game — rather it had the story line of a rivalry, as well.
High school rivalries; they last for a lifetime and bring out a passion in everyone.
In a study called,The Psychology of Rivalry: A Relationally-dependent Analysis of Competition published in the Academy of Management Journal in 2008, 3 college professors explore the science behind sport rivalries. The scholars found in there research the following:
"We define rivalry as a subjective competitive relationship that increases the psychological involvement of competitors beyond what the objective characteristics of the situation would predict. In other words, rivalry exists when an actor places greater significance on competition against certain other opponents as a direct result of his or her competitive relationships with these opponents, controlling for any objective stakes (financial, reputational, or otherwise)".
In other words, rivalries aren't just important because of a school's location, division, or conference. Instead, rivalries are defined by the competitiveness between teams or athletes that cause more effort and significance of winning.
Although it was a mid-week, in-season day game, the Bay Area high school rivalry still sparked some elevated play from both sides.
Recently, the Bishop O'dowd team has seen a consistent stream of success through the first 5 games of the season. With an offense stacked from the lead-off hitter all the way to the 9th batter in the lineup, the Dragons aren't shy of talent. Players like sophomore Nikolas Haas (pitcher and 3rd baseman), freshman Rashad Hayes (SS, 2B, and 3B), and senior Caden Wooster (Pitcher) are all committed to Division 1 schools — Cal, Stanford, and UC Santa Clara, respectively. The production of the O'Dowd offense isn't limited to their crew of D-1 commits, as role players like sophomore Ben Skiles, who has a laser of an arm with a sub-2 second pop time, provide what seems to be a veteran presence behind the plate. Junior Siraj Shabazz has a reliable bat and fast wheels on the bases in the lead-off position, and junior Cole Pugsley (first baseman) is batting just above .300 thus far with 6 hits and 4 RBIs. The Dragons entered Wednesday's matchup 3-1 — including a very questionably umpired game against Cardinal Newman that was eventually lost in extras, 6-5 (O'Dowd's only loss).
On the other hand, the Piedmont Highlanders have had a relatively easy schedule, as they entered Wednesday's matchup undefeated (3-0), outscoring their opponents 21-3 in total. Their offense has been effective as of late, having 4 hitters above a .300 batting average. Led by ace, Tobin Cantrill, who has thrown 125 pitches in 2 starts thus far and led Piedmont to only allowing 3 runs before facing O'Dowd on Wednesday. Batters like Markos Lagios and Dimitri P., bring in an average of a couple runs a game, while having only suffered a combined 2 strikeouts through 4 games.
First pitch was at 3:30p at Witter Baseball Field at Piedmont High School, CA.
Cantrill pitched well to start off the game but as time went on, O'Dowd hitters got somewhat used to a low-velocity lefty.
Conversely, Piedmont hitters were ready for Caden Wooster as he struggled early on. He had a tough first inning, as he trouble finding the zone and let up 2 hits, but got out of the inning after a hard-hit fly to center as well as with the help of his catcher, Skiles, who picked off a runner at 2nd.
In the top of the 2nd inning, Cantrill began to lose the strike zone, walked some batters, and threw a couple wild pitches. Freshman Stanford commit, Rashad Hayes, was walked by Cantrill. Shortly thereafter, he stole second and then stole third base off a wild pitch. Sophomore Aeneas Salaam scored as well as Hayes, which gave O'Dowd a quick 2-0 lead.
When the bottom of the 2nd inning came around, Caden was ready to redeem himself from a lackluster first inning. Wooster was throwing heat; around high 80s, touching low 90s every so often. His fastball location was effective on both right-handed and left-handed batters, while Wooster also utilized his off-speed pitches to his advantage. The 6'8, 230 pound right-hander didn't disappoint for the Phillies scout that was in attendance through the first couple of innings.
The bottom of the 4th inning gave Wooster some obstacles as he was stuck in a 1st-and-3rd, no-out situation that called for the first mound visit of the game. He started to lose some control as he walked some batters. Wooster did a good job of forcing ground balls, though, as the O'Dowd infield, scattered with future D-1 talent, executed a 5-6-3 double play. A Piedmont runner did score, which gave Wooster just his 4th earned run in his first 3 starts of the season. He struck out the last couple batters and closed out the inning. Piedmont was down one run at this point, 2-1.
The top of the 5th inning was an offensive frenzy for the Dragon offense. Aeneas Salaam took Cantrill's first pitch of
the inning deep to the left field, hitting the playground area beyond the fence, which sparked the rest of the O'dowd bats. The lineup went back up to the top of the order and Siraj singled off the wall in right center, which led to Cole Pugsley hitting a single down the 3rd base line, advancing runners to scoring position. The Dragon offense would force Cantrill's exit with the bases loaded, calling senior Will Sprague to the hill in a tough situation. Sprague had to work through an uphill battle as he walked 2 runs in, changing the O'Dowd lead to a 5-1 score. Nik Haas hit a sacrifice fly that brought in Pugsley for a run. The Dragons would ultimately score 4 runs in the top of the 5th and strengthen their lead to 6-1.
The Highlanders didn't let the red-hot O'Dowd offense get to their head, though. In the bottom of the 5th, Caden balked and had runners on 2nd and 3rd. Markos Lagios hit a stinger to 3rd base, which Nik Haas committed an error on and it let a run score, changing the score to 6-2. Wooster pitched well to close out the inning and escaped after a fly out to right.
Jonathan Schnoebelen took over the mound in the bottom of the 6th inning. Wooster finished with 5 IPs, gave up 3 hits, 2 earned runs, 3 walks, and 9 strikeouts. Jonathan, in his second appearance of the season, hit his first batter, allowed a double off the wall to right center that advanced runners. A pop out just beyond the shortstop position in left center put Jacob Anteneh (SS), Tyler Barsi (LF) , and Siraj (CF) a tough task to communicate and catch the ball. They were unable to get the out there, as Antheneh was recorded with an error in the scorebook. A couple runs scored in the bottom of the 6th, which changed the score to 7-4.
Junior Cole Pugsley threw 29 pitches, gave up a walk, gave up only one hit, and struck out 2 Piedmont hitters in the clutch to secure O'Dowd's 3rd-straight win, and 4th overall win of the season.
The final score was 7-5.
Piedmont played a hard-fought game, consistently scratching for the lead all 7 innings and making a slight comeback near the end as the O'dowd bullpen had a lapse. The Highlanders fall to 3-1 so far this season and play another non-league game against Arroyo (2-2) on Friday (3/11) at Arroyo at 3:30pm.
Bishop O'Dowd improves their record to 4-1 and looks to continue their winning streak against a highly-ranked St. Francis team (#24 ranked team in California, according to MaxPreps) under the Friday night lights just outside of San Jose. The O'Dowd squad will face Baylor commit, Blake Rogers '22, a 6'5, 215 pound right-handed pitcher who throws high 80s and topped at 91 MPH earlier this school year in October, according to PerfectGame. He is apparently known for his fastball and a sharp 12-6 curve, according to players familiar with his play style. There have been some covid-19 issues as of late with the O'Dowd team, but no clear information has been released. Nikolas Haas '24, Cal commit, looks to build off his last start against Encinal and earn his first win of the season.