Photo courtesy of the Churich family
Michael Churich hit seven home runs and drove in 13 for Nor-Cal
Baseball at a tournament in Cooperstown in late June.
After spending five springs and summers playing Little League for San Mateo American, Michael Churich was looking for a new challenge.
This summer, the Burlingame resident hooked up with Nor-Cal Baseball, a travel-ball program based in Livermore. Known more for high school age teams, this year Nor-Cal started an 12U squad.
“When [my dad] first told me about Nor-Cal, I didn’t know if I would play or not,” said Michael Churich, who will be entering the seventh grade at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Day School in San Mateo. “I just wanted to go experience a tryout. But the coaches knew what they were doing and the facilities were nice, so I said, ‘Let’s sign up.’”
Said Michael’s father Ken: “They probably had a hundred kids try out for the team. … We went out there on a whim. He made the team.”
At the end of June, Michael Churich and the 12U Nor-Cal Baseball team went to Cooperstown, N.Y. to participate in one of the several week-long tournaments hosted there. Churich had a breakout week in leading Nor-Cal to a perfect 10-0 record — 6-0 in pool play and 4-0 in the bracket portion of the tournament. He slammed seven home runs in the process to tie for the tournament high. He also drove in 13 runs and batted .435 for the week.
As a team, Nor-Cal clubbed a tournament-leading 42 homers and averaged 11.5 runs per game while allowing less than three per contest.
“It was a really fun experience,” said Churich, who played first base and batted cleanup. “I knew the fences were short, but I didn’t have super high expectations because the week before my family went to Hawaii. I was doing a lot of batting practice and hoping for the best.”
It didn’t take long for Churich to find his groove as he homered in his first game against a team from the Dominican Republic and he didn’t slow down for the rest of the week.
“I expected to hit two or three (homers) or something, but I never thought I would go out there and hit seven,” Churich said.
Playing first base and hitting in the No. 4 spot, however, means he is expected to be a power hitter and drive in runs. He admitted he was bit nervous when he first joined the team and it slotted him in that spot but, after a while, he grew to enjoy the spotlight.
“I’m not necessarily a home run hitter. But I am (expected to be) a power hitter hitting cleanup,” Churich said. “When I first started the program, I did put pressure on myself. But once I started hitting better, I started to enjoy it (the pressure of being the cleanup hitter).”