After being on the losing end of lopsided games against Pac 7 League teams Atascadero (16-0) and San Luis Obispo (15-4) in the first two weeks of this season, the Coast Union baseball team made the most of the opportunity to play a team from a small school, Kings Christian, from Lemoore, on Saturday, March 7.
The Broncos held on to beat the Crusaders 5-3 in a home game attended by equal numbers of fans from Lemoore and Cambria. The Crusaders jumped out in front 3-0, but thanks to the bats of Tommy Moreno, Chase Voltz and Jack
MacKinnon, Coast Union came back to tie the game, before surging ahead 5-3 in the fifth inning.
In the top of the seventh, an infield error with two outs and a runner on first allowed Kings Christian to put the potential tying runs on second and third. Coast Union head coach Brian Machado said after the game that the ground ball hit in the infield should have resulted in a force out at second; instead, the throw to first got away.
Senior hurler Jake McAvoy, however, responded by getting the final out on a pop-up to second base, and the Broncos had their first win of the young season.
Did that pump some confidence into the team after a rugged start against large schools? Machado said he’s not sure; it’s too early to get a read on his team’s psyche.
“Once we get into the Coast Valley League (CVL) we’ll be OK,” Machado said. The CVL kicks off March 24 when the Broncos play at Valley Christian Academy.
Among the players who have made a positive impact on the Broncos roster, Machado mentions Voltz, a freshman pitcher who has given the team several steady innings. “He throws the ball for strikes, and he’s hittable — in fact all our pitchers are hittable.
“I told Chase, ‘We’re throwing you in there right now,’ ” Machado explained. “As he matures, gets bigger and stronger, he’s definitely going to be a good pitcher for us.”
As to where his newer players will be positioned, “I still haven’t found a comfortable combination,” the coach continued. “I thought I had it last weekend, but I am still figuring it out.”
Several experienced players on the team don’t require any figuring out, and one of those is Moreno, the solid, dependable senior center fielder. Moreno has been slugging the ball in the early going; he went two for two with a double and a pair of runs batted in against San Luis Obispo.
Machado said the coaches have asked Moreno to shorten up his swing, and it’s paying dividends. “Keep the swing short to the ball and hit it,” the coach emphasized adding, “You’re not going to hit a home run in our park so just put the bat on the ball.”
Kings Christian was not on the Broncos’ original schedule; Machado added the team just a couple weeks ago. Besides the chance to go up against a school with just 250 students (Coast has about 230 students), the Broncos had a bone to pick with Kings Christian.
The Crusaders football team played the Broncos last fall and dominated the score, 57-17. But there were some illegal “chop blocks” and “cut blocks” (blocks that are aimed at the knees and can cause injuries) said Machado, who kept football stats for the team.
“Several players got hurt in that game,” Machado commented.
The Broncos lost a tough game at King City on Tuesday, March 10. King City scored three in the bottom of the seventh to edge the Broncos, 5-4. Zander Stoothoff, Gehrig Kniffen and Lane Sutherland went 2-for-3 at the plate; Kniffen swiped two bases, and Moreno knocked in a run with a single.
The Broncos play Santa Maria at home today, Thursday March 12, at 3:30. The game is broadcast on KTEA-FM (103.5) and streams on www.ktea-fm.com.