By Bill Tamburrino
Coach Dean Welch’s Bulldog baseball team has a reputation for doing things right. The book on the Dawgs is they will hit and they never quit. That reputation proved to be correct in their first game of the season as the Dawgs came from behind on four occasions to beat La Jolla Country Day 6-5 in the opening game of the Foothiller-Aztec Classic.
Welch is in his words, “very, very excited about this season. This is a cohesive group in which all players are pulling in the same direction. It cannot be overstated how much that concept means to the overall success of a ball club.
“We are pretty athletic and can do a lot of things. We can hit home runs or sacrifice and steal bases if that is what it takes to win a game. As a coach that gives me a lot of options. Playing in the Palomar League last season really helped this program. It exposed us to consistently strong opponents and made us better and more prepared for the playoffs. I think this year’s group may very well have what it takes to take the next step and be right in the thick of things in league and make a legitimate run at a CIF title.”
Welch said the offense will be led by Beau Sulser and Jackson Willeford. Willeford has made a commitment to the University of Arizona and Susler will be attending Dartmouth. Both may have to make a decision at the end of the season, according to Welch.
“Willeford may very well have a tough decision on whether to go professional or honor his commitment to Arizona,” said Welch. “Susler is also drawing interest professionally.”
Welch had praise for the hitting prowess of Kevin Hagan and the speed of Gage Canning, and he is is impressed by the athleticism of Jordan Farhat and the power of catcher Christian Drews.
Welch also believes that his team is strong defensively. “We simply do not have any holes out there. That will be a luxury for our pitching staff.”
Sulser will be the ace of the pitching staff, said Welch, adding, “he can beat any team in San Diego County on any given day.” Welch also praised the pitching abilities of Harrison McGhee, Farhat, and Hunter McHargue.
Welch’s pre-season predictions held up in the first game of the season.
Sulser got off to a shaky start as he gave up two runs on two hits in the top of the first inning. The senior right-hander then limited the Torreys to no runs and two hits in his final six innings of work. He struck out six.
Rhett Williams came in in relief and picked up the win. Williams gave up three runs on six hits and fanned three.
The Torreys scored two in the top of the first inning. Sulser who gave up the two runs got them back with a two run home run in the bottom of the frame as he drove in Jackson Willeford who reached on a single.
Both teams were scoreless for the rest of regulation as Ramona hit into three double plays to end three rallies.
La Jolla CD took a two run lead in the top of the eighth but the Dawgs rallied to tie the score. Tyler Sherman singled and scored on an error and Jordan Farhat delivered an RBI sacrifice fly to tie the game.
La Jolla CD took another lead in the ninth and the Dawgs came back to tie the score in the bottom of the frame. Christian Drews reached when he was hit by a pitch. Williams sacrificed him to second and Sherman drove in Drews with a clutch RBI single.
Ramona won the game without hitting the ball in the bottom of the tenth inning. Willeford drew a base on balls. Sulser was intentionally walked. Kevin Hagan got the third walk of the inning and Willeford scored when Drews drew an RBI base on balls.
Sherman, Hagan and Gage Canning all contributed two hits apiece to the offense. Taylor Burger also stroked a hit for the Dawgs.
The Dawgs will travel to Monte Vista on Friday and will play at home on Saturday at 10:30 against Helix. Both games are Foothiller-Aztec Classic games.