High School Sports

Unheralded player gets SLO High’s bats going, sends Tigers to sectional semifinals

Wils Guy’s path to Division I baseball wasn’t marked with scouts filling the bleachers or being offered a spot on a college team as an underclassman, as it was with some of his teammates.

It started with an email. But it wasn’t a school trying to recruit him. It was the other way around.

The San Luis Obispo High School senior knew he wanted to continue playing baseball, and not just at any level — he had his sights set on Division I. And he knew his best shot was to play for an Ivy League school.

His opportunity came after Guy was accepted to Cornell University for applied mathematics. He emailed the Cornell coach and made his case.

“He told me it wouldn’t be possible since you kind of have to be seen first,” said Guy, who didn’t go to many showcases — none that Cornell attended.

While he played club baseball over the summer, he didn’t get much visibility. But after talking to Guy and seeing his stats, the Cornell coach reconsidered.

“He told me he didn’t want to get off the phone with me,” Guy recalled. “He said he thought about it again, and he said I’m exactly the kind of player they’re looking for.”

Guy was offered a guaranteed spot, which he took, joining the three other players on San Luis Obispo headed to Division I schools: Brooks Lee (Cal Poly), Cooper Benson (Arizona State) and Emilio Corona (Washington).

And while he may have been overshadowed by his trio of teammates headed to big-time programs — or maybe even the pros — that wasn’t the case Friday night in SLO High’s second-round game of the CIF-Central Section Division I playoffs against Clovis West.

Getting the bats going

Guy got the Tigers going when their bats were quiet.

The senior doubled to lead off the bottom of the sixth after faking a bunt and scored when Benson singled to give the Tigers an insurance run. Second-seeded San Luis Obispo (23-4-1) went on to win 2-0 to advance to the semifinals, where it will face either Clovis or Clovis North in the semifinals on Wednesday.

It was one of the highlights of a torrid season for Guy after he hit .506 with 45 hits, 11 doubles, two triples and a homer. Guy only struck out four times in 108 plate appearances and had 50 stolen bases. He was caught stealing just three times.

“It’s tough on a team with three D-I guys, especially the caliber guys we have, to get any recognition for what you’re doing,” SLO head coach Brian Wong said. “To have a guy on this team, with this lineup, at the lead off spot that’s batting .500 and does what he does with 40 or 50 stolen bases — it basically sets up the entire line up.

“He gets our entire lineup going every game. When he’s on, our entire line up is on.”

Credit to his teammates

Guy is quick to give credit Lee and Benson for his success. Benson was his usual self — masterful — striking out 10 in a two-hit complete game, allowing no walks.

“This team wouldn’t be what it is without them,” Guy said, “their influence... and all the players. I feel like they’ve helped me along. Obviously, I wasn’t on varsity my freshman year, and they’ve tried to take me in and bring me up with them onto their level. I appreciate them so much.”

Guy didn’t see varsity playing time until his sophomore year, but it wasn’t until his junior year that he began showing his potential. By his senior season, Guy put it all together.

The jump was no accident. It took work every day, Guy said, including sprints and batting-cage work.

“Basically focusing on my hitting and my running because that’s been the most potent part of my game —stealing bases, getting on and scoring runs,” he said.

The work has paid off, for both Guy and the Tigers.

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