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Cañada needs pitching to keep up with its bats
January 29, 2014, 05:00 AM By Nathan Mollat Daily Journal

For whatever reason, things just never seemed to click for the Cañada baseball team in 2013.

Despite having an offense that scored an average of 5.7 runs per game and a pitching staff that allowed less than five runs a contest, the Colts managed to only post a 16-19 record overall and 12-12 in Coast Conference-Pacific Division play.

All that has been washed away by manager Tony Lucca.

“We definitely flushed [the thought of last season],” Lucca said.

The Colts’ focus right now is solely on Friday’s season opener, when they travel to Contra Costa College for a 2 p.m. start. The teams return to Redwood City Saturday for a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m.

While the Colts lost a number of players who helped give the Colts the third-best offense in the conference last season, Lucca is confident this year’s bunch will be able to at least duplicate last season’s success at the plate.

“We have a lot of kids who are aggressive early in the count. They’re gap-to-gap guys. I think we’ll be able to score a lot of runs,” Lucca said. “I think our ballclub has a little bit of everything (offensively).”

The Colts return four of their top hitters from last season, led by Dylan Cook, a sophomore out of Menlo-Atherton, who is expected to bat in the middle of the lineup. Cook, who will shift over to first base after spending time at shortstop and third last season, batted .315 as a freshman. Having gotten bigger and stronger in the offseason, Lucca is hoping Cook can ramp up his power numbers.

“Cook is probably our best player, up and down (the batting order),” Lucca said. “He doesn’t strike out a lot.”

Protecting Cook is former Terra Nova slugger Justin Gubser, who is penciled in at the cleanup spot. He led the team in doubles in 2013 and finished with a .299 batting average. Maurice Fuller (Sacred Heart Cathedral) and Kody Barden (Hillsdale) anchor down two of the outfield spots. Both had solid freshmen seasons and are expected to carry even more of the load this season.

Kyle Zirbes, also out of Menlo-Atherton, returns to the top of the Cañada order after playing two seasons ago and redshirting last season.

“He can really jump-start our offense,” Lucca said.

Lucca also expects to get production out of Chris Miguel, a redshirt third baseman out of Sacred Heart Cathedral, Jason Marley, a freshman catcher/designated hitter out of Carlmont, as well as Steven Gomez.

While the offense seems to be in good shape, the big question mark is Cañada’s pitching. David Moody, out of Half Moon Bay, is the only returning pitcher who threw more than 50 innings last year. As a freshman, Moody was the third man in the rotation behind Mitch Labbie and Pierce Precht, who combined to 11 games last year.

If nothing else, Moody should provide some stability as well the confidence that goes along with posting a 5-2 record in nearly 60 innings of work in 2013.

Lucca, however, is especially high on sophomore redshirt Sam Alton, a Sonoma Valley High School product who played for City College of San Francisco two years ago.

“He’s become our No. 1 starter,” Lucca said of Alton. “He’s in the 86-87 range, good changeup, good slider. Keeps the ball down and moves it around the plate.

“He’s just really calm and has a good presence on the mound. He got himself in pretty shape and he should have a good year for us.”



Tags: lucca, season, offense, colts, third, moody,

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