Mike McCormick likes a challenge. That
’s good news for the second-year head baseball coach at Gavilan
College because the Coast Conference has another boatload of good
teams ready to make every game a definite challenge.
Mike McCormick likes a challenge. That’s good news for the second-year head baseball coach at Gavilan College because the Coast Conference has another boatload of good teams ready to make every game a definite challenge.
The Coast Conference sent four teams into the post-season playoffs last spring. Gavilan is a member of the seven-member South Division of the conference, joining West Valley, Ohlone, San Jose City, Chabot, Monterey and Hartnell.
“No cakewalks,” deadpanned McCormick after looking over the 25-game conference schedule that begins today with a home date with San Jose’s Jaguars. “The South’s definitely the stronger of the two and is ranked among the top two or three toughest in Northern California.”
The game against San Jose was originally scheduled for Thursday, but was moved to today at 2 p.m. because of a wet field.
After growing with the program in 2002, McCormick sees improvement in all areas as the Rams prep for 2003.
“We can play better defense,” began McCormick. “We have more team speed. Offensively, we take better at-bats. On the mound, we throw a lot more strikes. We’ve gotten better all-around.”
Given the time to recruit the area more this season, McCormick has outfitted a 20-man roster. Another Ram hopeful, infielder C.J. Goularte, had his season end in the first weekend of the pre-season with a broken leg.
“We have a lot more players from the local area, San Benito, Gilroy and Live Oak,” said McCormick about the upswing in baseball awareness at Gavilan. “We want the players to enjoy the athletics offered at the school, to stress the academics, then hopefully have an opportunity to play at a four-year school.”
The Rams have produced a 5-8 record after competing in four pre-conference tournaments. The best showing was a 3-0 mark (with one game suspended due to darkness) in the Ohlone Tournament.
McCormick has a five-man starting rotation available for conference competition.
Gonzalez and Richie Rodriquez, a freshman from Live Oak High, are the two lefties on the staff. Kurt Simmons has a 2-1 mark in pre-conference action. Valenzuela, from Kerman, “keeps hitters off balance,” said McCormick. Nick Buzzeta, a product of the Monterey Bay League-champion San Benito Balers, features both a breaking ball and change-up. Buzzeta is also due to play in either left or rightfield when not pitching to take advantage of his offensive strengths.
Scott Perkins, also ready for extensive duty in the outfield, may turn into the team’s closer. Josh Becknall and Brian Crane give McCormick depth in the bullpen.
McCormick has both Rene Dimas (Live Oak) and Rocco Costanza (Gilroy) at first base. “Rene’s been hot with the stick (team-leading .380 average and 19 hits),” said McCormick.
Becknall and Crane share second base. “Both make the routine plays,” said the head coach. “Josh has been getting on base, Brian’s come up with several two-out hits for us.”
San Benito products Bakich and Logan Doglione provide strong play at third base. Bakich, who played at Monterey Peninsula College as a freshman, hits out of the second spot in McCormick’s line-up. Doglione produced a .267 average through tournament play.
Christian Cedano, a freshman from Live Oak, is the Ram shortstop. Cedano has a team-high 53 at-bats with a .264 average. “Christian has good range and plays very hard, whether in practice or games. He’s a tough kid,” said McCormick.
Shannon Fernandez, the team’s top power-hitter, plays center field. The sophomore from Arizona delivered nine home runs last year and leads the team this spring with three.
Rodriquez, with a team-high 10 RBI off 13 hits in pre-conference play, shares left field with Buzzeta. Perkins and Buzzeta split duties in rightfield.
Conference play continues through May 5