Dylan Florentin stands 5 feet, 5 inches and is 130 pounds, yet he is one of the big boys for the Campbell Sabers this year.
Sure, you might not even see him if he’s standing behind hefty catcher Bronson Burr or burly first baseman Roy Clemons — as you would expect, the third and fourth hitters in the lineup.
But put Florentin on the mound for 5 1/3 innings against powerful Mililani, and you will notice him.
After a rough start by Jamin Kalaola on Wednesday in Ewa Beach, Florentin — a junior right-hander who bends his knees quite a bit during his delivery and appears smaller than he actually is — came in to slow down the Mililani bats that had erupted for five first-inning runs. Florentin got the third out in that opening frame with a strikeout and then gave up just two hits the rest of his time on the mound.
All told, Florentin allowed two runs but also struck out six and notched four 1-2-3 innings — a nice performance against the sixth-ranked team in Hawaii.
Take away Mililani’s first-inning assault and it was an evenly played game. Both teams had eight hits, and Campbell stranded eight runners, including seven in scoring position.
Relatively speaking, it was a lot easier for the Trojans than the first time the teams played in the season opener in Mililani. They won that one 2-1, but head coach Mark Hirayama made sure to mention that this win was far from easy.
“Campbell is a scrappy bunch,” offered Mililani’s Ryan Kono, who had a two-run triple in that first inning and finished with three RBIs. “We were lucky to put up a bunch of runs early.
Added Hirayama: “(Against Florentin), we just didn’t make adjustments. It’s happened to us before. When they change the pitcher, we’ve got to adjust and our guys just haven’t done that yet.”
Campbell head coach Rory Pico put Florentin’s performance in simple terms: “Dylan threw very well. He threw three pitches — fastball, curveball, change — for strikes and anytime you can do that you will be effective.”
Florentin said he had success with his proverbial paint brush, even though he was outshined on the day by Mililani left-handed starter Koa Eastlack, who struck out nine batters in his four innings.
“Coach Dave Perreira was giving us the pitches to throw and the spots to hit, so I just tried to do my best to hit my spots,” Florentin said. “Painting the corners and throwing the right pitches. I was hitting the inside and outside good. I’m not the tallest player and I sometimes get picked on, but it’s OK. Just gotta perform like a big kid.”
Florentin showed his quickness off the mound, too, bolting to his right to pick up a nicely-placed bunt down the third base line by the Trojans’ Rico Sallas and throwing him out by a step at first.
To illustrate just how solid that play was, many on the Mililani bench and Trojans fans in the stands commented on how great they thought Sallas’ bunt was.
At the plate, Florentin went 0-for-3, but put one over Sallas’ head in right field and made him chase it down.
Florentin also admitted to somewhat of a struggle in the classroom that he’s recently corrected.
“I was able to bring all my grades up to A’s this quarter, except for one B. I was struggling a little bit with baseball (added in to the mix) but I had to bear down and put in the extra work.”