Eagles Open Season A Perfect 4-0
TEMPLETON — The Templeton Eagles boys baseball team finished its season last year as one of the top four teams in Division 3 of the CIF Central Section and have entered this year with expectations to do it again but this time come out on top.
Last season was an interesting one for the Eagles that began with the hiring of coach Cesar Ortega in late December followed by him being let go on Feb. 13, after forfeiting the Eagles opening game, and JV head coach Rob Tompkins being promoted to head coach.
Tompkins took over a very young team comprised of more freshman and sophomores than juniors and seniors and headed into preseason play that was chalked full of Mountain League schools, and more specifically, Division 1 teams. Templeton started the season slowly, taking their lumps along the way but slowly and steadily built themselves into one of the top teams in county.
This year, Tompkins and the Eagles had a full offseason to prepare for the season and are looking to get off to a much better start in 2020 season.
“It starts in our fall program,” Tompkins said. “We developed a new strength and conditioning program. Just getting the kids in baseball shape to start the season. Having that kind of a head start we were able to work on the field and do a lot more things and just be so much further ahead before we even started in January.”
The extra work was done in hopes that Templeton would start the season fast and it appears to have worked as they are already 4-0 and have only surrendered more than a single hit in one game so far.
Templeton is led this season by their two senior standouts, Nolan Stetz and Eli Bullard, who both pitch and lead the offense at the plate. In the Eagles first game, Feb. 19 at Pioneer Valley, Stetz threw a complete game one-hitter and while he shutdown the Panthers offense, Bullard wreaked havoc at the plate recording a four-for-four day that very nearly ended in him hitting for the cycle as he finished with a triple, double and two singles.
The next day, the Eagles hosted Panthers at Vineyard Elementary and it was Bullard’s turn to toe the rubber. Not to be out done by his senior counterpart, Bullard threw five no-hit innings , recording six strikeouts before the game was called due to darkness resulting from an issue with the Eagles lights.
While the Eagles will certainly rely on their two seniors to lead them it appears their supporting cast has also taken a huge step forward with a full year under their new head coach. Templeton sophomore pitcher and first baseman Robbie Lardner has taken another step forward in his progression and will look to shut down opposing offenses as his brother did for the Eagles before taking his talents north to Gonzaga. Saturday, Lardner saw his first action on the mound for the season and threw a complete game shutout striking out eight while allowing only four hits to Firebaugh.
Rounding out the Eagles pitching rotation this season will be a trio of juniors in Trent Wills, Ryan Domingos and Merek Hall.
“So many of our young guys have matured through club ball and fall ball this year,” Bullard said about his younger teammates. “And I am just waiting for them to shine, it’s their year.”
Not only have the Eagles seen their younger players improve they have also added the Ocean Leagues most electric football player back to their roster in junior quarterback Tyler Kaschewski did not play last year due to the coaching uncertainty. Kaschewski is currently batting in the three spot for the Eagles. The center fielder with game changing speed has already made a difference in the outfield and is a terror on the base paths as he can beat out routine ground balls for infield singles.
“I honestly think we will be a little bit better hitting team this year,” Tompkins said. “We will hit with a little more power. A lot faster, a lot faster on the base paths and the outfield has just been tremendous, they have chased down everything.”
Through their first four games of the season, the Eagles have been borderline perfect. Offensively, they have posted 34 runs in the four games they have played but are yet to surrender a single run.
With Templeton off to one of their best starts in program history the expectations for the boys in green have risen as they, and their skipper, now have their sights set on only one thing, a CIF Championship and a fire truck escorted parade down Main Street with the trophy in their hands.
“We are going to get a ring this year,” Bullard said. “We talked about it last year and we are going to get it this year.”