When the Broncos matched up against teams from Atascadero, San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles in the 2015 preseason, they struggled to compete. That was no surprise given the enormous advantage bigger schools have in available baseball talent.
But now that the Broncos are well into Coast Valley League play — they are 7-0, in first place, and have outscored opponents 98-12 — their dominance reminds baseball aficionados of the 1927 New York Yankees, a powerhouse team led by sluggers Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
In fact, this season the Broncos are also led by a player named Gehrig — last name Kniffen — who led Coast through the first six games of league play with a sizzling .457 batting average. The senior catcher/infielder has 21 hits (four doubles and two triples), 10 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 10 attempts (tied for the team lead with Lane Sutherland and Bien Trieu). He topped all regulars with 53 putouts and ranked second on the team with a .500 on-base percentage.
In the Broncos’ 10-4 win against Valley Christian on Friday April 24, Kniffen went 3 for 3, scored two runs and drove in two. Junior Sutherland had three hits, scored four runs and drove in two. Senior Tommy Moreno contributed two hits and made a dazzling, diving play in center field on a ball that seemed destined to drop in front of him.
The Broncos tallied three runs in the first, two in the second and fourth innings, added three in the sixth and played errorless ball. Senior pitcher Jake McAvoy scattered nine hits, struck out seven and walked a pair in seven innings of work; on offense, he scored a run and drove in a run.
After six games in league play, McAvoy was hitting .350 with a dozen RBI. Sutherland was hitting .447, has scored 14 runs and has a .571 on-base percentage. On the mound in league play McAvoy (3-1) had a 1.89 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 40 2⁄3 innings pitched.
Freshman Will Stephenson had 10 hits in 14 plate appearances; freshman pitcher Chase Volz (4-3) had a 5.83 ERA, has struck out 27 in 30 innings, and at the plate he had driven in 10 runs on 10 hits in 36 at-bats.
On Tuesday, April 28, the Broncos traveled to Maricopa (3-3) and downed the Indians 13-1 in five innings.
Jack MacKinnon, Kniffen, and Jez Lawson each had two hits and drove in runs; Sutherland was resourceful on the mound, striking out 10 batters.
The next home game for the Broncos will be May 8 against Shandon, a 3:30 start. That game is broadcast on KTEA (103.5) and streams live on www.ktea-fm.com.
On Saturday, May 9, Coast will play a twin bill against Dunn School; the regularly scheduled game Saturday April 25 was postponed due to wet weather. KTEA-FM will broadcast the first game of the doubleheader, a noon start.
The Cambria Reds lost 12-2 to the undefeated Red Sox on Tuesday, April 28, at the Leffingwell ball field.
Coach Gary Stephenson reported that David Amodei tripled twice and pitched well for the Reds.
Steven Medina made good plays on defense, and Riley Volz had a good hit on offense for the Reds. The Reds play the Red Sox again Saturday in Los Osos.