In the final game of the two-game series against Eastlake High School, Bonita Vista High School’s boys varsity baseball team lost 7-1. Ranked second in San Diego Section Division I, Eastlake swept the series, leaving the Barons with an 8-11 record.
“The schedule is a tough one, every game that we’re going to play this year is a competitive game. We played Eastlake twice this week and we had our good moments. It showed that they are a power team and this week, we ran out of contention,” BVH varsity head coach Vincent Gervais said.
Eastlake’s junior pitcher Brian Leonhardt, who has an undefeated 6-0 record this season, pitched a gem in the first with a one-two-three inning. Leading the Titans’ lineup, junior Micah Pietila-Wiggs was hit by a pitch, getting him on base. The next two at-bats resulted in a single and walk with four consecutive pitches. With the bases loaded, senior Casey Schmitt singled for Eastlake, driving in Pietila-Wiggs.
“The lead-off batter of every inning has one job and one job only: to get on base. These guys think that the way to do that is to get hit. They should be on the box, daring the pitcher to throw inside and when they throw inside get on base,” Gervais said.
BVH remained hitless in the top of the second, getting three outs on a pop-up to center and two ground balls. In the bottom of the second, Eastlake senior catcher Bryan Reyes got on base due to an error. Junior center fielder Zaine Mendoza capitalized on the situation and singled to right field. Cycling back to the top of the lineup, Pietila-Wiggs singled to right field, driving in Reyes and Mendoza to make the score 0-3.
“Our defense isn’t too bad; we have a few errors here and there. But other than that, it’s just hitting that we need to work on,” senior and outfielder Christopher Luna said.
Continuing the second inning for the Titans, back-to-back singles extended their lead to 4-0. An error in left field scored another run for Eastlake. After walking senior Leonard Jones, the bases were loaded. Nankil was then replaced by junior pitcher Chris Andersen. Andersen ended the rally, forcing Eastlake into a ground ball to shortstop and a double play.
“If [a pitcher is] getting hit like [Nathan Nankil] did, that’s not necessarily a sign of a bad pitcher. There’s always a little pressure on the starter. The starting pitcher is a freshman. So we threw him to the wolves out there. It’s always easier for the relief guys to come in,” Gervais said.
With two outs in the top of the third, sophomore Alec Bruce singled on the second pitch, becoming the first BVH player on base. However, the rally ended early, with a ground ball to the shortstop. Eastlake answered with a homerun by Reyes, extending their lead to 6-0.
“I just need my guys to keep their heads up and to keep working on the fundamentals. [What we should be asking is,] ‘was it just a matter of that pitcher was better than me today, or that I’m no good?’ We’re good. You have to get rid of the results and look at the process,” Gervais said.
The Barons were cold in the fourth, with a strikeout and two ground balls. In the bottom of the fourth for the Titans, two consecutive doubles left runners on second and third. However an error in the outfield brought in a run, extending Eastlake’s lead to 0-7
“Leadoff batters should take a few pitches—make sure the guy is throwing strikes. If he walks me, I’m on base. Then when it comes time to hit, I can’t hit the ball in the air. Hit the ball on the ground: they’ve got to field it, and they’ve got to make a play,” Gervais said.
In the top of the fifth, BVH’s Luna was hit by a pitch and went on to steal second during the following at-bat. Jesus “Bubba” Villegas hit a ball that got past the third baseman, driving in Luna. The Barons were now on the scoreboard, trailing 1-7.
“We usually split the series but this time we just weren’t able to come on top. I think this prepares us because we are going to be seeing other teams like this. Here, we faced top pitchers, D1 pitchers. That’s what we’re going to be seeing in the playoffs,” Luna said.
For the remaining three innings, junior Sebastian Olivo was substituted as BV pitcher and allowed no Titans to get on base. Vega and senior right fielder Alex Verdugo singled in the sixth and seventh innings respectively, but without run support were unable to reach home, securing Eastlake with a 7-1 win.
“They took out most of their starters because we were down so much, but I think I did well. Eastlake is a really good team: they’re going to be in open division and it was just a good experience for all of us,” Olivo said.
Despite being swept by the Titans, the Barons’ schedule this year in addition to their 8-11 record, will secure them a spot in the playoffs, according to Gervais.
“We definitely have room for improvement. We are a good team that has not yet realized it. Once we start ‘playing the game’ correctly we could be a team that shocks the other teams in Division I,” Gervais said.