West Ranch baseball’s Nick Perez is focusing on breathing this season. After struggling at the start of the spring, Perez has been calmly settling his mind ahead of at-bats.
“Our coach has been talking to me about slowing the game down, not trying to do too much,” Perez said. “Revert back to my sophomore, junior year which was really calm. Just deep breaths and that’s basically just working the other way and deep breaths, making sure you don’t let the moments beat up on you.”
Perez seems to have found his rhythm as he came up big in the Wildcats’ 9-2 win over Saugus on Friday at Saugus High School. He finished the game 3-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs.
The Cats (4-5 overall, 2-0 in Foothill League) were first on the board, putting a run up in the first inning when Trey Topping laid down a sacrifice bunt. With another sacrifice bunt, Jake Callahan was able to drive in Perez and extend the lead to 2-0.
Hayden Trowbridge was able to set up Saugus’ first run in the bottom of the second inning by getting on base with a double. Mauricio Guardado hit a sacrifice bunt shortly after to bring the Centurions within a run of tying the game.
Ryan Farr hit an RBI single in the top of the third to get Perez his second run, but Saugus (1-6, 0-2) kept the game within reach with an RBI single from Trowbridge.
“When you have a team like what we have constructed, he’s the only returning varsity player that played varsity,” Saugus coach Carl Grissom said of Trowbridge. “The rest of the guys that are playing varsity, besides (Shane) Kinsley, had never played varsity before and so I don’t know, you know, if many people can understand that that’s a lot for some of these kids they just don’t … they haven’t grasped that kind of speed yet of varsity.”
The Cats were able to break open the game in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded, Perez launched a two-run triple to put West Ranch up 6-2. Ryan Farr followed up with an RBI single to score the final run of the inning.
“Nick Perez has been so good for us for so many years he’s got that all dialed in and it was it was a real big hit,” said Wildcats coach Casey Burrill. “I think that was kind of the game-changer.”
West Ranch put up one last run in the seventh inning on an RBI single from Oregon commit RJ Gordon. The senior transfer from Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks also had a big day for the Cats, going 3-for-4 at the plate with one RBI and two runs.
Additionally, he pitched 2 ⅓ innings for the Wildcats, striking out two batters and walking one while giving up no hits.
“He’s really good, that’s all I can put it as,” Perez said. “He’s really good, really athletic, he knows how to get the job done. He works on it off the field which is I mean, it’s practice and there’s real practice for him, so I think that’s why he’s able to do what he does. Play outfield and then come in and shove.”
Saugus continued to experiment with pitchers on Friday afternoon, sending four different Centurions to the mound. John Bahr, Michael Delgado, Jaiden Patterson and Shane Kinsley each saw playing time.
“It is what it is and we’ll get back next week and play Hart and continue to try to improve every week and if we improve every week, hopefully, we’ll be still in the fight,” Grissom said.
After a collective deep breath just as Perez does, West Ranch has a quick turnaround as it plays Thousand Oaks at College of the Canyons at 10 a.m. today. Saugus hosts Hart on Wednesday at 3 p.m.