By Aram Tolegian, SGVN twitter.com/ChemicalAT
After one week of action, these are not the Sierra League baseball standings most fans would have expected.
Much of it has to do with the strong showing by Charter Oak and the disappointing performance of South Hills, which just a week ago looked headed toward a dream season after beating Bonita and ace pitcher Justin Garza to win the Dick’s Sporting Goods Tournament.
Charter Oak (6-1, 2-0) swept the Huskies (5-2, 0-2) last week, which has the Chargers sitting pretty in the standings and has the Huskies facing heavy pressure when they visit Damien (4-2, 1-0) on Wednesday in a key league showdown.
“I have a lot of confidence in our kids that we’re going to bounce back,” South Hills coach Kevin Smith said. “We were 1-2 (in league) at one time last year and tied for the league (championship).
“We’re going to be OK. We’re just going to need to right the ship right away. If knew what it was, I would fix it right away. We’re not timely hitting. We’re having a major defensive breakdown at the wrong time. It’s just baseball.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone on the street willing to bet the Chargers are going to run away with the league title. But the way the Chargers have been pitching, that might happen.
Starters Oscar Montenegro and Mac Lupton own ERAs below one. Because of that, Charter Oak will be heavily favored this week against Ayala and Claremont.
That’s why Wednesday’s game between South Hills and Damien is so critical.
“It’s huge,” Smith said of Wednesday’s visit to Damien. “We’re going to have to play a perfect ballgame. We can’t throw the ball away or commit the errors or not get the timely hitting that we haven’t. Friday’s ballgame (against Charter Oak) they scored two runs and the ball didn’t leave the infield. It’s just stuff like that. Those were the things we were not doing when we the tournament. We were making those plays.
“The good thing about is that our pitching has been really solid. We don’t want to be 0-3. It’s going to be a huge ballgame for us, there’s no doubt.
“They’ll be well-prepared and we’re going to have to play well.”