The level of competition went up a notch this summer for the Walnut Creek Crawdads, but the growing pains were minimal.
The local wood bat baseball team joined one of the country's premier summer leagues, the California Collegiate League, and had one of its best seasons in the five-year history of the program.
The Crawdads, made up of players from colleges across the nation, took first place in the North Division and advanced to the league's playoffs. But they couldn't get the offense going in the double elimination tournament, losing to San Luis Obispo 8-1 and eventual champion L.A. Brewers 6-0 to end their season.
"We're proud of the guys," team president Marshall Murray said. "It's pretty cool that they made the playoffs and won the division. We weren't expecting that. The level of competition is pretty high."
Infielder Matt Johnson (South Dakota State) earned all-tournament honors for Walnut Creek, which went 16-16 in its division and 25-25 overall in the regular season.
While the team attracts players from all over the country, there's a good amount of local flavor, too. Sixteen players on the roster are Bay Area natives, including 13 from Contra Costa County.
Some of them are back from last year, but many are new to the team.
"We try to keep a core of five to ten guys to keep the team energy and tradition going," Murray said.
Miles Mastrobuoni, an infielder from Livermore who plays for the College of San Mateo during the school year, had the most success of the locals, hitting .292 with 20 runs and 11 RBI and earning a selection to the league's all-star game.
Other locals include Thomas Peter (who attends Western Kentucky and is a San Ramon native), Sawyer Gieseke (USF/Walnut Creek), Jordan Burger (Los Medanos/Concord), Sean Peters (Cal/Alamo), Austin Lonestar (College of San Mateo/Danville), Neil Lang (Grossmont/Pleasant Hill), Andrew Merken (Cal State Northridge/Lafayette), Brian Allec (Cal State East Bay/Concord), Mike Hast (Pima College/Martinez), Nathan Simmons (Saint Mary's/Walnut Creek), Austin Lee (Diablo Valley/Walnut Creek) and Logan West (USF/Concord).