Cambrian: Sports

Coast Union drops twin bill, cruises in league opener

Sophomore Auggie Johnson takes a cut during a plate appearance against Fresno Christian on Saturday, March 21. Johnson tripled to lead off the eighth inning.
Sophomore Auggie Johnson takes a cut during a plate appearance against Fresno Christian on Saturday, March 21. Johnson tripled to lead off the eighth inning. Special to The Cambrian

The Coast Union baseball team clawed back from a 6-3 deficit in the seventh inning to tie the score in the first game of their doubleheader against Fresno Christian on Saturday, March 21. But after that dramatic comeback — thanks to walks, a hit, defensive miscues and a balk — sent the game into extra innings, the Broncos missed golden opportunities to score the winning run in three straight innings. 

In the new, updated Webster’s Dictionary, next to the term “frustration,” a photo of coach Brian Machado’s perturbed expression should be posted. Watching his Broncos miss chance after chance to win a game they finally lost in the 11th inning was not an enjoyable experience for the coach, to understate dramatically.

Sophomore Auggie Johnson led off the bottom of the eighth with a triple. The Eagles’ coach put Broncos runners on first and second (as is his prerogative in high school ball), so the bases were loaded with no outs —  one run wins the game.

A line smash was hit to the left of the third baseman; he caught it and tagged the third base bag before Johnson could get back and, just like that, the Eagles had a double play. The Broncos couldn’t bring the runner at second home.

In the ninth and 10th innings, Coast had runners in scoring position with one out or less and couldn’t bring that winning run home. Pitcher Jake McAvoy performed brilliantly through 10 innings, but high school rules do not permit a pitcher to stay in a game longer than that.

So Machado brought in freshman pitcher Chase Voltz to work the 11th, but he was rocked for seven runs (albeit a porous defense contributed to Voltz’s troubles, giving the Eagles a 13-6 victory. Gehrig Kniffen and Johnson each had two hits in that first game. 

The second game was out of control by the second inning; Machado used nearly every player on his bench — including inexperienced underclassmen — as Coast went down 12-1 in five rough innings of walks, hit batsmen and errors.  

Interviewed on Monday, March 22, Machado said of his 1-7 Broncos, “We’ve got a lot of work to do — a lot of work to do!”

Granted, the coach lost a talented and experienced group of seniors to graduation and is working with younger inexperienced players, but he is hoping the team will jell enough starting this week in Coast Valley League (CVL) play. 

“We have to learn how to win,” Machado asserted. 

He bemoans players striking out, especially when they watch a third strike go by with men in scoring position. 

He is also emphasizing the need to field ground balls cleanly and know where to throw the ball. 

On Tuesday, March 24, the Broncos, behind the pitching of Jake McAvoy, shut out Valley Christian Academy 11-0 in their Coast Valley League opener. 

Gehrig Kniffen ripped a double and triple; Voltz went 2-for-3, and Lane Sutherland doubled and singled. 

Coast hosts Maricopa at 3:30 p.m. Friday March 27. The game is on KTEA-FM 103.5) and streams on www.ktea-fm.com.

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