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Baseball team loaded with seniors

Jake Sakurauchi fires a pitch during an 8-5 victory against Poway High on March 8. (photo by Jim Wick)

Baseball team loaded with seniors

By John Gregory

Coach Chris Lamb, entering his 11th year as head coach of the Scripps Ranch High School (SRHS) varsity baseball team, could not be happier as the early season progresses. His players are not only talented, they have great character. 

“They do have that scrappiness to them. That’s just how we play the game. We have such strong character,” he said. “This is such a great group of kids. It’s fun to get to practice every day and banter with them and have fun.”

In addition, the team has determination to win.

“You know you’re going to get some good effort and you’re going to compete. We’re going to win some games. There’s no doubt about that,” Lamb said. “They battle. They compete. It’s a tough group. There’s a will to win. There is a large number of seniors on the roster. They do their best in keeping their focus on leaving high school as winners.” 

Top seniors

Four of his seniors are headed to play college ball.

Cayden Gonzalez is a left-handed hitting catcher heading to the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs campus, to play Division 2 baseball. 

“He works the bat well; receives well; is good with our pitching staff; throws out runners; kind of shuts down the running game,” Lamb said. 

Pitcher and third baseman Jordan Green is expected to play at Point Loma Nazarene University.

“Jordan Green does it all for us. He plays third base; is our number 1 pitcher on the mound. He’s our number 3 hitter. In his career at Scripps, he’s played center field, he’s played right field, he’s played second, he’s played short, he’s played third and he’s pitched. Really, just about anywhere we’d place Jordan, we could,” Lamb said. “If you have a team of nine Jordan Greens, you’re going to win a lot of baseball games. On top of that, he’s a really good kid.”

Senior Ryan Ham is the team’s shortstop. He’s expected to play at U.C. Irvine.

“He’s really our defensive leader. He’s our lead-off hitter, gets on base a ton, steals a bunch of bases,” Lamb said. “He’s also our closer on the mound. He’s a special one for sure.”

Senior second baseman Daniel Herrera is planning to play at the University of Charleston, West Virginia. 

“He’s been our second baseman for the last two years, but he’s dealing with a back issue right now that’s keeping him out of the line-up. So, we’re hopeful that he comes back soon. I think he’s progressing the right way,” Lamb said, adding that he estimates Herrera will return by the end of March. “He carries a big bat. Not a big kid by any means, but he can swing it. He plays a great second base, but absolutely just competes and is a big force in our line-up when we have him in there.”

Another senior is Daniel Lee, the team’s number 4 hitter. 

“He’s going to go to a high academic school, we just don’t know where yet,” Lamb said. “He could play at the next level. It’s really going to be based off of where he goes to school and if there’s a need for a big right-handed hitting player with power. I assume most people would take that. So, we’re just seeing where he’s going to end up because it’s going to be such a high academic place.”

More standouts

Outfielder Jesse Dawson is a sophomore who is really hitting well right now.

“He’s playing the outfield (but he’s) probably more of an infielder. He’s filling a spot for us right now,” Lamb said. “He’s really just hitting the cover off the ball. Not intimidated at all being his first trip on varsity. He’s just really doing everything we’ve asked of him, and more. He’s also pitched for us a little.”

Junior pitcher Jake Sakurauchi is another standout.

“Jake is a pitcher who fills up the strike zone, gets after guys and keeps kids off balance,” Lamb said. 

Then there is right-handed pitcher Jack Gerardi, the team’s number 2 pitcher.

“He’s really solidified our starting rotation,” Lamb said. “He had a solid start against Canyon Crest; went five innings and had six strikeouts. He’s another kid who really fills up the strike zone; works his pitches well.”

The Falcons began season preparations with tryouts and practices in mid-February. The team started competition with a dominant 14-1 victory against Canyon Crest Academy on Feb. 28. Then lost two close games; one 2-4 loss against Patrick Henry High on March 1, and a 2-3 defeat against Point Loma High on March 4. But Lamb said he felt his team outplayed the opponents in both these losses. SRHS had a convincing 8-5 victory against Poway High on March 8.

The Falcons are competing in the Eastern League and their most powerful opponent will be Coronado, which has excellent pitching. Scripps Ranch will host Coronado on April 24; then travel to Coronado for a game on April 26. Mira Mesa High and Scripps Ranch did not compete against each other in baseball for a few years, but the rivalry will be restored as the Falcons host the Marauders on April 10 and play at Mira Mesa on April 12.

Beyond competing on the diamond, the Falcons players are involved in the community. 

“Our whole program works with the Scripps Ranch Little League Challenger team. … We just had a Little League clinic not too long ago,” Lamb said. “It’s a group of kids that are good on and off the field, and we’re going to compete and make Scripps Ranch proud.”

SRHS senior catcher Cayden Gonzalez between pitches during the March 8 victory against Poway High School. (photo by Jim Wick)