Summer baseball can be fun.
For example, the umpires decided to leave in the bottom of the seventh inning in Valencia’s VIBL game against Chaminade on Monday. Vikings catcher Grant Weiss stepped in for his umping debut – and put impressive dramatic emphasis on every strikeout he called.
Summer baseball can be difficult, especially for a team like Valencia.
Following a CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoff run that featured an upset of No. 1-seeded Harvard-Westlake and a near-forfeit of a wildcard game, the team is confident that they can find postseason success again in the coming season. The question is, how?
With a roster that will feature a plethora of young, yet seasoned, returners, there’s plenty of competition for a spot on varsity throughout the summer.
“Everybody has to work hard and I don’t see a guy on our team that doesn’t really work hard or slacks off that starts,” said rising junior Sean Ogrin. “If you want to get the spot on this team you’ve got to work hard.”
Games like the one against Chaminade, which ended in a 12-5 win in the Vikings favor, make choosing next year’s players difficult for the coaching staff as well.
“There’s a limited number of holes truly available, but there’s tons of different things they could be,” said Valencia coach Mike Killinger. “We need role-players, we need relief pitchers, we need other guys to step up and so it’s kind of a tough but fun thing for them to do.”
The Vikes produced offensively up and down the lineup, with every player producing at least one base hit. The team got out to a 6-0 lead in the second inning, a scoring run that was capped by an Ogrin two-run home run that went over the left field fence.
“That pitch was there and I took a big hack and that’s how it goes,” the shortstop and second baseman said.
“…Last year I wasn’t going to see a lot of playing time. I played on JV and worked hard and I got myself to where I am today.”
The runs continued to pile up in the third frame. The Eagles were able to manufacture a run in the top of the inning, but Valencia struck back with a two-run single from Kobe Aleck. Nick Lottermoser followed with an RBI double and Justin Tajeda added an RBI single.
Chaminade chipped in another run in the fourth inning, then three more in the sixth, but Valencia protected its lead by adding two more runs between the sixth and seventh innings.
Lottermoser closed out the game on the mound behind a defense that forced a double play before Lottermoser struck out the final Eagles batter.
Lane Farrell, who threw for three innings, is also part of a pitching corps that could be seeing increased time on the mound next season.
“My biggest progress is probably just being able to be dominant,” Farrell said. “Easily getting hitters out. My velocity has jumped quite a bit and for the most part, my mechanics are pretty sound.”
“I’m confident that this year we’ll be a very dominant team. I can see us winning league and I can see us making a run for it in playoffs too. All of us have been playing together since we were eight years old… so there’s really good team chemistry and I think that’s our biggest thing.”