The 100-car freight trains, pulled by three of four powerful locomotives, rumbled and roared through the desert town of Mojave one after another, all night long on Friday night, May 26. Our motel was about 70 yards from the duel train tracks, so in hindsight it was easy to figure out why that Best Western offers free earplugs during check in at the front desk.
Earlier that Friday, 20 miles east of Mojave on Highway 58, the Coast Union baseball team, a CIF Division 7 team — designated for the smallest schools in the Southern Section – was humbled, 10-0 by the Bobcats from Boron High School, a CIF Division 6 team.
Pessimists might say the game was a “train wreck” for the Broncos, but that’s far from fair, and it buries the truth. Coast was frankly up against a far better team. After winning the Coast Valley League — in a truncated season — and polishing off their first two CIF Division 7 playoff rivals at home, the Broncos lost a CIF coin flip and were obliged to travel into the Mojave Desert to play the Bobcats.
The KTEA-FM broadcast team certainly didn’t need earplugs at the Boron High School baseball field, but a suitable wind screen would have come in handy to block the micro-pieces of infield sand from stinging the skin.
Indeed, the fierce desert wind was blowing constantly, from left field to right field, and the tempest picked up particles of infield sand and launched them eastward toward the bleachers, where fans, from Cambria and Boron, and the play-by-play folks, were seated.
After driving through the Tehachapi area and passing hundreds of spinning windmills, it should have been obvious to anyone that a brutally strong wind was going to be part of the playoff game, and of course it was.
As to the game, Boron scored three runs in the first inning, aided by a Bronco infield error. In the third, the Bobcat catcher, LaRon Cherry, belted a high drive to deep right field, and the powerful wind helped push that ball well over the fence for a two-run home run.
Now the score was 5-0 in favor of Boron High School. The Bobcats picked up two more in the fifth inning to increase their lead to 7-0. And then in the bottom of the sixth, with two men on, Cherry blasted another booming drive over the right field fence to polish off the scoring at 10-0.
Meanwhile, the Broncos managed only two singles, one by junior Will Stephenson and the other by senior Jack MacKinnon. Neither player got as far as second base against Bobcat pitcher Anthony Davis.
Speaking of MacKinnon, he made some excellent plays on tricky, wind-whipped drives in deep center field. He also made a diving, sliding catch on a ball that he had to hustle in on.
Credit should also go to freshman catcher Spencer Magnuson, who handled pitchers Chase Volz and Riley Kennedy very well, and who made a perfect throw to nail a Bobcat runner attempting to steal second base.
The top Bronco hitters for the 2017 baseball season include: Volz (.452); Kennedy (.419); Auggie Johnson (.392); Thor Ronemus (.385); MacKinnon (.392).
Coach Brian Machado will lose three starters to graduation — Ronemus, MacKinnon and Johnson — but he’ll have a talented crop of experienced younger players to work with in 2018.