Buchanan’s Sky Collins hit a two-run double that ricocheted off the base of the wall in left-center field and helped kick start a six-run fourth inning in a 14-2 rout against Tulare Western on Tuesday night. It was a strong start to a season where the Bears are looking to fill the gaps of a staggering 13 seniors who graduated last year.
Max Bernal was given the ball for the Bear’s first game of the year. He threw three innings, struck out two, allowed two hits and one run. The one run that managed to cross the plate was not earned, though; Tulare Western’s Nathan Marroquin reached base as a result of an error by Buchanan center fielder Josh Williams, who lost track of the ball when contesting with the setting sun in his eyes.
The Bears offense was initially slow to start but eventually got moving in the third inning when Austin Young (1-2) hit a two-RBI triple that scored both Williams and Evan Wallace. In the sixth inning, Corbin Ybarra hit a triple that capped off a five-run inning that gave Buchanan their 14-2 lead.
Wallace was brought in to close for the Bears, he gave up a two-out single to BJ Rodriguez but ended the game without further drama by drawing a groundout from Bryce Huerta. In total, Tulare Western managed just four hits off of Bernal, Wallace, and Colby Evans. Evans was brought in after Bernal and he worked through the middle three innings, giving up one run off one hit.
After graduating thirteen seniors last year, Buchanan faces the tough prospect of replacing key players like Brady Hormel and Brock Jones who anchored the top of the Bears’ batting lineup for much of their time at Buchanan.
“It was nice to be able to get these new guys into the lineup and be able to get them going and see how their intent and purpose was. The execution was a little bit below average but overall they performed for their first game on the varsity field,” said head coach Brad Fontes.
With just four players returning to the Buchanan lineup this season, it places pressure both on younger players to mature quickly and the few senior players to develop into a leadership role.
“There is a standard that’s been set here for a long time and these young guys have to adapt to that because we’re not going to change it,” Fontes said.
Buchanan (1-0) travels to play Bullard (1-0) on Thursday night. Bullard is coming off of a 2-1 win against Clovis High on Tuesday night, setting up a crucial early-season contest for the Bears.