Early in the season, the Christopher High baseball team was still finding its identity. With the playoffs looming, the Cougars have found it. Potent hitting, solid defense and improved pitching has Christopher coach Ryan Dequin feeling good about his team, especially after a 10-0 win over Gilroy on May 17 in a game that was called after five innings due to the mercy rule.
“We’re coming into our own,” he said. “We’re getting some kids who are competing, who are finding their swings and defensively we’re getting to where we need to be. So we’re feeling much better.”
Nathan Weiler pitched the full five innings and allowed just three hits in the shutout, more impressive considering he labored somewhat in the first inning. In the end, the right-hander threw 73 pitches, a modest final tally for five innings.
“Weiler was phenomenal,” Dequin said. “He came back hitting his spots, and he’s had a little more velo on his pitches in the past couple of weeks. He’s been working really hard, keeping guys off-balance and competing.”
Logan Stelling hit a two-run home run and Tyler Swan had a solo shot for the Cougars, who improved to 7-4 after starting the season 1-3. Eric Cantu led the way with three hits, while Stelling and Will Anderson had two hits apiece. Anderson and Stelling also combined to drive in five runs.
“We’re figuring out how to get guys on base and get them over,” Dequin said. “We’re not playing like individuals; we’re playing more like a team. Sacrificing our at-bats for the next guy, getting guys over and selling out and doing the little things in baseball you need to do to win. They’re coming around and maturing. We have a lot of underclassmen who are playing, so they’re learning the game. They’re actually understanding how to be a student of the game rather than just playing the game. It’s pretty exciting to see.”
Christopher has three games left in the regular-season before the CCS playoffs begin on June 12. Sequin said the CCS will take 10 teams from the Pacific Coast League for the postseason, meaning Christopher is a virtual lock to get in considering there are roughly only 11 schools that have the option to participate (the Salinas schools, for example, won’t be in CCS because their district administrators decided to forgo it).
“We just have to be better than the 11th team, so for the most part we should be in unless something happens and we have an epic fail,” Dequin said.
Swan provides the team with a steadying presence behind the plate, and freshman Mateo Alcantar drew two walks to highlight the team’s ability to get on base. Dequin said he knows the team has a chance to make some noise in the playoffs if one thing happens.
“Realistically, we have to make sure our pitchers step up,” he said. “That’s kind of our only weak spot right now. Obviously, if Weiler can have an outing like he did today (we’ll be in good shape), but Jose (Padilla) is on the shelf right now and trying to do rehab. So our other guys need to step up and pitch. If they can, we have a good shot.”