The baseball team (17-5 at the time of print) has done very well in its league this season, and has dominated powerhouse teams such as Santa Clara.
However, there are still teams that could threaten a CCS victory. Mt. Pleasant, Willowglen, St. Ignatius, Burlingame, Palo Alto and Aptos are all potential matchups in the upcoming CCS tournament. Willowglen and St. Ignatius especially could prove to be the most challenging opponents, as the former has lost only four games in the last three years, while the latter has three 90 mph plus pitchers. The CCS playoffs start on Wednesday, May 16.
The Eagles’ success in the season so far stems from their experience and maturity.
“They’re really good about detaching their emotions,” Assistant Coach Donnie Ecker said. “We don’t play with our emotions, we control what we can control and because this team has a lot of experience, the game doesn’t get fast for them.”
By playing objectively, the team does not get caught up in and distracted by variables such as fans, weather, bad umpires and the team which they are playing. The Eagles think of the games as a battle between them and the game, not them and the opponent. This focus allows the players to take advantage of their strengths.
“In all of the three years that I’ve played in Los Altos, I would say this year’s team is the most complete team,” co-captain senior Luke Wiechec said. “We pitch really well, we hit really well, we play defense extremely well. We just do all the little things right, so we’re really sound fundamentally, and we’ve got a lot of talent on the team as well.”
In games, the team relies heavily on its pitchers. Luke is regarded as one of the top pitchers in CCS, with a low 90’s fastball and a hard-breaking curve.
“Because we have an unbelievable pitching staff that is good enough to keep the opposing team down, we know that we only need four to five runs to basically win the game,” Luke said. “We know that going in, so we try get that right off the bat, and then we just go into beast control mode.”
According to Ecker, this defensive control is dependent on the center of the field.
“We’re really blessed to have a really, really good middle and infield,” Ecker said. “With [junior] Steven McLean, [senior] Joe
Chedid and [senior] Simon Rosenbaum in the center, our middle of the field is so good that they control all the bigger parts of the game.”
Joe and Steven patrol the middle of the infield and are at the top of the batting order for the Eagles. Steven has great agility and a rocket arm from being shortstop, while Joe makes every play at second look incredibly smooth and easy.
“They’re probably the top second baseman and shortstop combination in all of CCS,” Head Coach Sandy Wihtol said.
Despite the team’s success, the coaching staff continues to teach the team not to take anything for granted.
“We need to treat these like CCS, so that when the real games start to happen… we just go out there and play,” Luke said.
In addition to the incredibly strong senior players, the team has several juniors and a sophomore who make big contributions to the team. Steven has been on the team since his freshman year and is considered by Ecker to be the best shortstop in CCS. He bats second in the order and does a great job setting the table for Luke, Simon and senior Nolan O’such, the team’s three power hitters, by using his great speed to swipe bags and get into scoring position.
“Steven’s just a complete hitter,” Luke said. “He’s got power for a little guy and he’s super fast.”
Two other young players returning from last year’s varsity squad are juniors Dom Gachina and Conrad Rogers. Dom is a solid contributor with the bat and plays outfield, while Conrad will likely be the ace of the staff on next year’s team.
“Dom has some power in his swing, and if he just fine tunes it a little bit, he’ll be one of the better home run hitters next year,” Luke said. “Conrad throws pretty hard, and for a pitcher he’s really good at not giving hits down the mound.”
Sophomore Matt Bicker is the only sophomore on the varsity team. He plays at third and second base and is a solid defender.
“Matt just knows how to put the bat on the ball,” Luke said. “Once he gets bigger and stronger, he’ll hit the ball harder and turn doubles into home runs.”
Last year’s team made it to the CCS championship games before losing, 1-2, to Monterey by an error in an extra inning. This year, the team is looking for a chance at redemption.
“This year we can come back out and correct what happened,” senior Ryan Smith said.
As the end of the season approaches, some of the returning seniors are increasing their goals and expectations as they head into CCS. “We have to be responsible for ourselves, our teammates and the Los Altos High School baseball legacy,” Simon said. “We have to be aggressive, and we’re going to dictate the tempo of the game, and the way the game is played.”
Nolan, however, is confident in the team’s abilities.
“We’re pretty solid,” Nolan said. “We got depth, we got young players. We got the tools, beast mode, the attitude. We got the
swagger, the rawness. We got it all.”