Photo by Austin Xiang

Baseball wins De Anza league title

With a 24-5 record and a 13-1 league record, the varsity baseball team has clinched the number one seed in the De Anza League. After going 2-2 in the Boras Baseball Classic — a nationally-recognized tournament consisting of the top teams in California — earlier in the season, the team hopes to use its experience playing against tough opponents to finish out the season strong, head coach Pete Fukuhara said.

“We did not come away winning the tournament, but what we did get was a lot of experience against some unbelievable pitching,” he said. “We faced a left hander from Franklin High School who was probably the best pitcher we’ve seen all year. It was great for us to see guys that were really talented because it just helps us down the line when we run into another guy like that.”

Despite a strong regular season record, junior pitcher Sam Papp said his team has faced significant adversity.

“When two of your Division I commits (get injured), it’s pretty hard to rally back, especially when a guy like Xavier (Esquer) goes out during the Mountain View game,” Papp said. “He’s one of the core dudes on the team, so without him out there, it’s a whole different ball game, and the energy level was totally different.”

Papp said due to injuries, the team had its first losing streak this season with back-to-back losses against Mountain View (12-5) and Saint Francis (4-0). However, the team bounced back with a commanding win over Los Gatos (9-1).

“We just play our brand of baseball,” Papp said. “We’re not a team that should be losing like this. I just think everyone knows that. We’re better than that.”

Moving forward, Fukuhara said the team’s practices will continue to vary from day to day, identifying areas of improvement in-game and drilling on specific weaknesses in the following practices. 

“We’re not installing bunt defense, and we’re not putting in plays,” Fukuhara said. “At this point, we’re reactionary. If we end up getting beat by a slider from a good pitcher, like what happened (against) St. Francis, we will get the (pitching) machine out there, and we’ll have it throwing sliders.”

Fukuhara said this team is the most physical and dedicated team he’s ever coached. He said the chemistry and leadership of this year’s seniors make the team stand out.

“I think every single person that’s involved in our program knows that we have a pretty special ball club, and I would like them to play their best baseball and play together, and we’ll see where the chips fall,” Fukuhara said. “We’re not going to worry about results or who we’re playing or when we’re playing. We’re just going to play our brand of baseball, play the best we can, and I think that we have a good chance of doing some special things.”