El Capitan CIF Baseball

0
55
1_Sports-Photo-El Capitan CIF Baseball.jpg

SAN DIEGO — In fitting Lakeside terms it was the last rodeo for Steve Vickery, but he would have liked to have gone out a different way, riding high in the saddle instead of watching others celebrate the glory.

Having been a high school baseball skipper for over 34 years, the El Capitan High mentor has won four CIF-San Diego Section crowns and has led his charges to their fourth straight finals appearance, the last three against the bully boys of Cathedral Catholic in the Division III category.

SAN DIEGO — In fitting Lakeside terms it was the last rodeo for Steve Vickery, but he would have liked to have gone out a different way, riding high in the saddle instead of watching others celebrate the glory.

Having been a high school baseball skipper for over 34 years, the El Capitan High mentor has won four CIF-San Diego Section crowns and has led his charges to their fourth straight finals appearance, the last three against the bully boys of Cathedral Catholic in the Division III category.
The feeling was this title would be the coach’s farewell, his swan song, his ride off into the sunset.

It was a ready-made feel-good story which would climax a three decade-plus career for a successful and inspirational leader who only won his first sectional title in 2003, after 25 years on the job.

So, with heart and guts and devotion to their longtime sage, the Vaqueros took the field agains the defending champs with high hopes of bringing another crown back to Lakeside.Vickery, on the other hand, voiced out loud that whoever scored first in a game like this would probably win.
And, since he does have about 20 years of experience (coaching and life) more than this fresh and eager boys, his assessment was correct.

Cathedral did indeed draw first blood – before there were two outs in the bottom of the first – and ended up claiming another title by a 3-1 score.
This game gave El Capitan a chance to repeat history. In 2004, after defeating Patrick Henry for thir first crown the year before, Vickery and his team would have to face high-flying Valhalla, led by their 11-0 pitcher Sean O’Sullivan (who would later make it to the Major Leagues and toil for the LA Angels and Kansas City Royals, among others).

That season, O’Sullivan had been virtually unhittable, and he led the Grossmont League in strikeouts and was named The East County Californian’s Pitcher of the Year, as well as the Most Valuable Player.

The Vaqueros paid no attention to numbers, however, and pounded across seven runs in the first to stun O’Sullivan and the Norsemen, 8-2. On Saturday, June 2, El Cap faced another perfect pitcher, lanky Stephen Gonsalves (10-0) and looked to give him the same treatment as the unfortunate O’Sullivan.

This time, though, the local bats were lulled into silence by a mix of off-speed curves and drooping fastballs.

Not that the Vaqs did not try, but after their biggest hitters leaving runners at third base twice in the first three innings – both on called third strikes.

“We could have been up 3-0 by now,” said an exasperated Vickery loud enough for the left field umpire to have heard. “We have to compete. We have to hit the ball.”

That advice, while certainly sound, was not as easy to put into practice, as El Cap was blanked into the sixth inning of a seven-inning contest.
Still, however, Catholic could do nothing with El Cap starter Shane Coleman after the first inning tally.

The nervous, but game young man faced down the hard-hitting lineup until his exit in the sixth after walking a batter on four pitches.
His relief came on, but after retiring two batters, walked a man to load the bases and then gave up a bad-bounce, hard-luck single into left by Brandon Nelson, which made it 3-0 going into the final frame.

Never saying die, though, the Vaqueros’ designated hitter Jesse Burns led off the top of the seventh with a double and the club managed to score its only run two outs later. They could get no closer.

With everything he did in this contest being the last time he would do it, the entire affair was bittersweet to Vickery., who also teaches higher mathematics at El Capitan.

“It’s going to be hard to walk away from this,”he said. “But I will really miss my coaches and the kids and doing this everyday. I have been very lucky.”
 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here