Baseball team stumbles toward close of tough summer season
It was less than two months ago that the Pueblo West High School baseball team sent its No. 1 pitcher to the mound in the state championship game and came within a whisker of winning it all.
But last week on their home field in Pueblo West, the Cyclones appeared to be barely a shadow of that squad
West played error-filled and generally listless baseball in losing both ends of a double header to a club team from Denver going by the name of “Cage Rats.”
“It’s a different group of kids,” head coach Dan Sanchez said. “I can live with the errors and the rookie mistakes; I expect that. But we’re struggling to find intensity and leadership. I haven’t been this discouraged in three or four years. The energy and the want-to are really low.”
West’s Final 4 team saw most of its top players graduate, and at least five of them appear bound for college baseball careers, with Logen Letofsky, Gavin Compton, Derek Robinson, Peter Ward and Jared Lasher all playing this summer for Pueblo’s premiere Connie Mack team, Team Loaf ‘N Jug.
Furthermore, the top juniors from last year’s team, Korbin Williams and Zac Drury, opted to play for another club team this summer instead of playing with their Cyclones teammates.
Still, the cupboard isn’t bare at the varsity level; Tyler Evans, Javy Garcia and Darin Robinson all played significant roles on the Final 4 team. They were among the players who helped West to a 2-0 lead over the Cage Rats last Thursday in the opening game of the twin bill.
Evans pitched into the fifth with a 2-0 lead, but West’s defense imploded with five errors, and the Denver club came away with a 6-2 victory — with all of its runs being unearned.
“Evans threw well. We came out pretty strong. All summer, we’ve tended to come out pretty strong in the first game and then be pretty flat in the second game. The second game today was pretty discouraging,” Sanchez said.
West once again took a 2-0 lead when Robinson hit a two-run single in the bottom of the first inning, but the Cage Rats exploded four seven runs in the top of the second inning thanks in large part to four Pueblo West errors.
On the way to a 13-7 loss in the nightcap, the Cyclones not only committed too many errors but also failed to get dirty on a couple of balls that might have been stopped with a diving effort — only they didn’t dive.
Asked whether the lackluster effort might be due to the boys playing out the string at the end of a long summer campaign, Sanchez simply said, “I hope so.”
“We’re going to have to work hard with these kids to find the ones that really want to. There are a couple of guys who have been solid, but we need them to be leaders,” Sanchez said. “The potential is there to be solid.”
The Cyclones wrap up the summer club season this week with a tournament in Denver.