The Bonita High School baseball team’s pitching staff was deep before the season began. It has only gotten deeper. The depth of talent perhaps is best illustrated by a pitcher committed to Cal State Fullerton beginning the season in the bullpen.
But Damien transfer Grant Hockin has been so good John Knott, coach of the defending CIF champion Bearcats, moved him into a starting rotation that now includes four pitchers. Well, all four don’t actually rotate. Hockin (4-0, 1.44 ERA) and senior Sam Stavang (3-2, 2.80 ERA) rotate as the third starter behind Parker Merritt (5-0, 0.71 ERA) and Jon Reid (5-0, 1.75 ERA).
“There’s a lot of internal competition right now, but it’s going to be really tough to choose when we get to the playoffs and there’s only two games a week,” Knott said.
“Chad has absolutely been improving. He’s a little green in some areas, but he makes up for a lot of things with talent.”
Knott was clear he doesn’t expect anybody to replace last year’s ace, Justin Garza, a freshman who is 7-0 at Cal State Fullerton. Merritt has been the ace of this year’s group. Coming off an 8-1 season with a 1.16 ERA in 2012, he has picked up where he left off. Merritt didn’t allow his first walk until last week during his eighth start of the season.
Thanks in part to their pitching, the Bearcats have compiled quite a resume. They are ranked No. 1 in CIF-SS Division 3, have a 17-2-1 record, a 5-0 mark in the Hacienda League and plenty of quality wins, including extra-inning victories over Covina Northview and San Dimas in games that lasted 11 and 12 innings, respectively.
Knott isn’t ready to talk about CIF championships. He probably won’t be until the season is over.
“I don’t want to put that pressure on them,” Knott said. “I don’t want them thinking about any of that yet. We’ll just let other people talk about the bigger picture.”