Temo Becerra had the baseball game riding on his bat with two outs.
The Buchanan shortstop strode to the plate with the bases loaded and his Bears down a run in the sixth inning. The high stakes failed to intimidate the composed junior.
“I wasn’t really worried, because I knew I had my team behind me,” Becerra said. “I took the at-bat one pitch at a time and looked for something to handle.”
— Gabe Camarillo (@gabecamarillo_) February 14, 2020
Becerra’s approach ended with a bases-clearing triple, scoring Buchanan’s go-ahead runs in a 9-2 victory over host Bullard Thursday. With the win, the Bears secured their second victory of the season to start 2-0 in the 29th annual Coca-Cola Classic.
“It took some time, but our hitters were able to find pitches down in the zone and barrel a few of them,” Buchanan head coach Brad Fontes said. “We got a young group who is talented and intent, and their purpose remains focused.”
Bullard began the game strong in their 2020 home opener at Mike Noakes Field.
Buchanan starter Chris Lenlocker surrendered back-to-back RBI singles to Bullard’s Cam Cummings and Mark Baca in the first inning, granting the Knights a 2-0 lead.
Buchanan cut the lead in half the next inning with an RBI single from Nick Marchini, helped in part by a Bullard error moving the baserunner Becerra into scoring position.
The Bears struggled to find an offensive rhythm for five innings against Bullard starter Niko Rangel. Rangel limited the Bears to one unearned run on three hits through five frames.
Once the sixth inning arrived, so did the Buchanan hit party.
Seven hits total in the sixth frame led to eight runs, including Becerra’s big triple to drive in three and give the Bears the lead.
“We got a great team this year with a lot of energy,” he said. “It’s our year and we got to take it one game at a time.”
The Bears’ big bats woke up in the sixth inning. Along with Becerra’s three RBIs, Marchini went 2-for-2 with two RBIs and sophomore Corbin Ybarra hit 1-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.
Overall, Buchanan saw offensive production from up and down the lineup Thursday, two days after the Bears hung 14 runs on Tulare Western.
Despite his squad’s hot start, coach Fontes believes the best is yet to come.
“We have everything to improve upon,” Fontes said. “Bunting, execution, pitching… there’s a lot of room for improvement.”
Quite a scary thought for the rest of the Central Section.