BRIGHTON — Pitchers Ramone Baker and Silas Madrigal fired strikes, catcher Tanner Shore threw out a runner and Dante Thomas could not be caught on the base paths. Those were just a few examples that earned praise from Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School baseball coach Preston Baker.
Even though PECS’ home opener March 3 was spoiled with a 6-5 loss to Glades Day High School’s junior varsity, coach Baker witnessed a far crisper performance from his players compared to their debut a few days earlier when they allowed 16 runs in a loss.
No matter what record the team compiles in its brief six-game sprint, Baker will not view wins and losses as gauges for success. His coaching philosophy extends beyond the numbers on the scoreboard.
“I want them to play as a team, play together, respect each other, respect the coaches, respect the game and have fun,” Baker said.
Until Glades Day rallied late for the victory, PECS had plenty of fun while it built a 5-3 lead.
The Seminoles fell behind 3-0 in the top of the first but answered with two runs in their first trip thanks to Dante’s RBI groundout that scored Silas and a bunt single and run from Dakoya Nunez.
In the third, Dante provided the spark with his bat and cleats. He led off with a single to left, stole second and third, and scored the tying run when Dakoya reached base on a fielder’s choice. Tavis Jumper followed with a long RBI sacrifice fly that brought home Kaleb Doctor with the go-ahead tally. Dakoya made it 5-3 when he beat a tag at home plate following a wild pitch.
Behind Silas and coach Baker’s son Ramone, PECS’ pitching was far sharper compared to the season opener.
“The pitchers did much better this game than last time. We didn’t have so many balls this game. Last game we had a walkathon,” Baker said.
Ramone, who pitched the first two innings, emerged from a bases loaded threat unscathed in the second inning when he retired the final batter on a ground out. Silas took the hill in the third and fanned the first batter on his way to retiring the side in order.
Led by Dakoya at shortstop, Kaleb at second and Kamani Smith at first, PECS’ infield generated a solid game defensively on a field that takes time to adjust for the younger players accustomed to playing with shorter base paths and smaller outfields.
“It’s a pretty big field for seventh-graders,” Baker said. “Some of them are still playing on Little League fields.”
Glades Day scored three runs in the fourth to take a one-run lead. After PECS did not score in the bottom of the inning, the game ended because of darkness on the right side of the field with a few light stanchions out of order. Still, Baker shed light on his team’s performance.
“We did much better tonight than our first game. I guess the first game we got all the bugs out of the way,” he said.
Fourteen players came out for the team in late February; a dozen suited up in the home opener. The squad features five eighth-graders, seven seventh-graders and no sixth-graders.
“They’ve got good spirits,” Baker said. “They’re real happy about playing baseball. I’m not real hard on them; I just want them to play ball and learn.”