Coming out of spring break, Tehachapi baseball coach Guy Dees knew it was important for his team to return to league play with a strong performance.
On Tuesday at South High the Warriors more than obliged.
Three pitchers combined to limit the Spartans to three hits as Tehachapi took a two-game lead atop the South Yosemite Mountain League standings with an 8-0 victory.
“They were kind of hot, having won three of their last five, and they took the last game they had in league play … so for us to come in here and hang up some numbers on them, I think was a big confidence boost for us,” Dees said.
The Warriors (12-5, 4-0) scored first with a solo run in the second, then added four in the third and two in the fourth to build a 7-0 lead against Spartans starter Hayden Smith, who did his best to keep the Tehachapi hitters off balance.
“I thought our pitcher, Hayden Smith, did very well on the mound,” Spartans coach Joseph Neilson said. “He competed and he gave us a chance to win that game.”
Cyler Hoofard went 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored, and Turtle Thomson was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored to lead a 13-hit Tehachapi attack that featured four doubles and four stolen bases.
“I just think our focus wasn’t there today,” said Neilson, whose team dropped to 5-13 and 2-2 in the SYML. “From the start when we took pregame and out it showed and in the dugout, energy was there coming off good play during spring break, we just didn’t have focus and energy from the start. And then it kind of showed offensively at the plate.”
Hoofard and Thomson combined for three innings of scoreless relief in support of starter Dillon Kerr, who allowed just two hits in four innings, striking out three with just one walk.
“Our focus before the game is always, we’re not concerned about the opponent, we’re concerned about playing the game,” Dees said. “Just make sure you take care of the game and good things will happen.”
Bryce Segale also had two hits, including a double, and an RBI for the Warriors, and Christopher Turpin doubled and had two RBIs.
“We’re pitching really well, our defense is really strong up the middle and offensively we can play the game at any point, small, long, in-between, and the guys execute. So it is a fun team to watch play.”
The two teams will meet again for the finale of their 3-game season series on Friday in Tehachapi, with the Warriors looking to continue their momentum and South looking for a bit of redemption.
“I think they’re going to learn that they have to come out right away against a good team like Tehachapi and you have to do everything well to be right there and to win games against a good team like they are,” Nielsen said.
Following the home game against the Spartans, Tehachapi’s schedule doesn’t get any easier. The Warriors must complete a game with East that was tied at 6-6 when called for darkness, and still has to play the Blades, North and West two more times to round out SYML play.
“East gave us fits, they’re tough and North plays well,” Dees said. “So there’s no gimmie games here. These guys can play and they’re all well-coached and they all go after you hard, so we still have our hands full.
“We always have that focus of getting ready for playoffs, and we’re trying to use these games to build us to be ready for playoffs. At the same time, we have to take care of business. We can’t look past the teams and we have to be able to compete in a way that is a playoff mindset. And that’s what we try to do everyday.”