If the Avenal High School Buccaneers were hoping to get a boost based on the luck of the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, Friday, March 17, they were certainly disappointed on the baseball diamond. There may have been a few shamrocks in the grassy Coast Union ball field, but none of those iconic Irish images helped the Buccaneers, as the Broncos dominated their visitors 15-0.
It wasn’t so much that the Broncos crushed the ball all over the field, although Coast did amass a dozen hits — including a powerful double that Thor Ronemus belted over the left fielder. The scoring was also due to six errors, five passed balls, one wild pitch, a hit batsman and nine walks by Buccaneer pitching.
Coast scored eight runs in the first inning — there were five walks and three errors, including a muff by the left fielder, who had the ball in his glove but it popped out.
Broncos pitcher Auggie Johnson threw 66 pitches through five innings (because the Broncos were ahead by more than 10 runs, the game ended at that point on the “mercy rule”); Johnson gave up one hit, struck out seven and walked three.
Ronemus, Johnson and Chase Volz each collected two hits; Emany Plasencia and Will Stephenson each scored three runs for Coast. Freshmen David Amodei, D.J. Cashdan, and Javier Garcia each got their first high school base hits.
When Garcia connected for a hit, the fans responded with a loud roar of approval: Garcia had never played baseball before this year and was up to bat for the very first time in a high school game.
On Saturday, March 18, the Broncos traveled to Ojai to play the Toads from Thacher School, an expensive boarding school which competes in the Condor League. Coast got only six hits in losing that nonleague, extra inning game 5-4. The Toads got one run in the third, then tied the game 4-4 with three in the seventh and added a single run in the eighth to prevail.
The Broncos scored a run in the fourth and three in the sixth. Volz had two hits and two runs batted in; Plasencia, Stephenson, Johnson and Spencer Magnuson each chipped in with one hit.
Volz gave up eight hits, four runs (three earned runs), walked three and struck out six in seven innings of work; and he threw 107 pitches in those seven innings. Magnus Marthaler pitched the eighth and gave up a hit, a wild pitch and the winning run on 19 pitches.
Coach Brian Machado was not happy that his team went into the bottom of the seventh leading 4-1 and allowed three runs to score to send the game into extra innings. A couple of infield gaffes by Coast that cost the Broncos the game.
Machado was missing three starters for this game — and it was hot, in the 80s in Ojai — and “even though we struck out 16 times, we got some timely hits,” he said.
What does his team need to work on this week in preparation for a doubleheader Saturday, March 25?
“Just playing the game and knowing what to do and what not to do.
“There are a lot of things to be learned in this game,” he said, noting that he had three freshmen on his starting team against the Toads. “But we’re getting better. I’m happy with them; they did play good, but it’s frustrating when our pitcher pitches good enough to win, but we don’t back him up.”
Both games of the doubleheader against Fresno Christian on Saturday, March 25, (scheduled for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.) will be broadcast on KTEA-FM (103.5).