The Sobrato High baseball program got its wish as it was promoted to the Blossom Valley League’s top division, the Mount Hamilton, for this season.
Now the Bulldogs will have to fight and play to their potential to stay up in the A league.
“We’ll be fine, we’ll survive,” coach James Pozas said. “Let’s see what happens.”
Standout junior pitcher Seth Hernstedt expressed optimism in how the team will fare in league play this season.
“I think we’re going to shock a lot of people that don’t think we’re going to do well in the A league,” he said. “I’m really excited to see what’s in store for us. We have really good team chemistry, we work really well together and we all like each other.”
Sobrato will be counting upon Hernstedt and Ethan Marmie to carry the load on the bump. A standout on the basketball team, Marmie has returned after not playing baseball in his sophomore season. At 6-foot-7 and with a lively arm, Marmie has brought a lot of excitement to the program.
He’s coming off a one-hit shutout against a Cupertino team that entered their March 12 contest at 6-0.
“Ethan started two years ago, injured his arm and never got well enough to pitch last year,” Pozas said. “He’s very good, he’s touching 90 mph and he can get it up there. He can hit pretty well, too.”
Said Hernstedt: “We’re really excited to have Ethan because we lost Will Conn and Ethan throwing kind of replaces him. He’s such a great arm and key factor because if you go into a season without good pitching, you won’t be able to get much done.”
Hernstedt, who drove in the only run of the game against Cupertino, is definitely someone who knows how to get things done. In addition to being a standout football player, the right-hander threw a no-hitter with 16 strikeouts in a 7-0 non-league win over Gilroy High on March 3. It was an efficient 98-pitch gem that represented the highlight of Hernstedt’s burgeoning athletic career.
“It was something special,” he said. “It may not ever happen again, but I hope it does. But it was great celebrating with the team.”
After recording the final out—fittingly, on a strikeout—Hernstedt threw down his hat and glove and let out a scream before being mobbed by his teammates, including stalwart catcher Tyler Pina, who frames pitches well, is sound defensively and works well with the pitchers.
Hernstedt vividly remembers Conn striking out 15 Gilroy batters in their first of two non-league games against the Mustangs last season, followed by a no-hitter against Monterey High in the Central Coast Section playoffs.
“Going into the Gilroy game, I remember Will Conn doing good against them both times, so that kind of inspired me to do the same thing he did and luckily I was able to get it done,” Hernstedt said.
Pozas was amazed but at the same time not surprised Hernstedt was able to produce a no-hitter.
“Everything he threw was spot on,” Pozas said. “His off-speed was perfect every time, and he put a lot of people away with the slider and fastball up in the zone.”
Hernstedt got most of his strikeouts off his fastball, but he utilized a lot of curves and sliders to keep the Gilroy lineup off-balance. Hernstedt credits all the time spent working out at Kinetic Performance Institute—Live Oak’s Landon Stump and Aidan Keenan also train there—as helping him to excel both on the gridiron and baseball field.
“I can go to KPI and throw bullpens, can hit and do all those things I can’t really do at the park,” he said. “It’s a nice facility and it really kind of inspires me to get better each day when I go there.”
Said Pozas: “Seth does a ton of work in the off-season with pitching specifics, and he’s stronger now in the late innings because his mechanics are very sound. He was feeling it and it was something else.”
Sobrato returned plenty of talent off last year’s BVAL Santa Teresa Division championship winning team, including Shane Callison, Matt Primeau, Thomas Martinelli, Ethan Clark and Jamison Pozas. Callison, a recent Sonoma State-commit, has been ultra reliable since his freshman season, over the years playing pretty much every position on the field and excelling at all of them.
He’s playing shortstop this season and hitting in his customary leadoff spot. The aforementioned Pina will bat third or cleanup and is simply a rock behind the dish.
“Tyler Pina is a lights-out catcher and has an amazing swing and eye,” Pozas said.
Pozas’ son, Jamison, plays first base and usually has productive plate appearances. Primeau is a junior second baseman and got off to a hot start through the first five games of the season. Pozas expects Primeau and Pina to be highly productive hitters and have disciplined at-bats every time they come to the plate.
Martinelli plays center field and pitcher, serving a vital role especially with the latter position with his ability to start or relieve. Clark also plays outfield and pitches. Javier Alvarado, a Live Oak-transfer, also has potential to start or relieve.
“If our 1-2 punch of Seth and Ethan can give us a lot of innings, I think we’ll be fine because we’ve got a lot of guys that can go one to two innings,” Pozas said. “We’ve got a lot of pitching depth.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]