DP Baseball 4-peats in Channel League

By Tim Heiduk

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DP Head Coach Nick Katzenstein talks to his team in between innings. (Photo/Luke Coffey).

DP Head Coach Nick Katzenstein talks to his team in between the innings. (Photo / Luke Coffey).

Back to back to back to back. After winning Channel League for the past three years, Dos Pueblos baseball went into this season looking for its fourth straight league title. The Chargers accomplished just that, winning league outright, after tying Buena for the title last year.

“It feels good,” said senior third baseman Luke Coffey on winning a fourth consecutive Channel League championship. “I’ve been a part of it all three years I’ve been on varsity so it’s pretty awesome to have that legacy, that reputation of being one of the best teams in league every year.”

Coffey, a first-team All-Channel League selection as a sophomore and junior, will continue his baseball career next year at Westmont College.

The Chargers (15-14 overall) finished league with an 8-4 record, a game ahead of Buena (7-5) and Santa Barbara (7-5). DP clinched at least a share of first place after beating San Marcos on May 8, but clinched the outright title when Buena and Santa Barbara split their matchup last week.

A big reason DP was able to top Channel League was the emergence of two starting pitchers, ace sophomore Darby Naughton and junior Travis Craven.

“Darby and Travis were absolutely invaluable this season,” said senior catcher Nick Noggle.

DP’s top two starting pitchers graduated last year (Daniel Buratto and Josh Tedeschi), leaving question marks at the top of the Chargers’ starting rotation. But, Craven (1.90 earned run average, 2 Channel League wins) and Naughton (2.06 earned run average, 3 Channel League wins) helped fill the void.

“(Darby’s) control and composure on the mound are some of the best I have ever seen,” said Noggle. “Without Darb as our number one pitcher, this season would have been difficult. Travis did an absolutely phenomenal role of filling in our number two spot in the pitching rotation.”

“When it came down to it, Travis got the job done,” added Noggle.

DP’s head baseball coach Nick Katzenstein credited pitching coach George Hedricks for his work with the pitching staff, which compiled a 2.39 earned run average (ERA) in Channel League play. Junior closer Austin Bull anchors the Chargers’ bullpen and earned four saves in league.

“(The pitchers have) really been the ones that have carried our team this season,” said Katzenstein.

DP’s offense is led by Coffey, with a .351 batting average, 24 Runs Batted In (RBI) and junior second baseman Dustin Demeter, with a .341 batting average, 20 RBI, the two of whom are cousins. Junior left fielder Gio Macias, who has a .329 batting average, 22 runs scored, and senior first baseman Jesse Speier, who has a 17 RBI, also provide a spark for the Charger offense.

DP’s run to the Channel League title included two wins over rival Santa Barbara High School, the first of which happened off a Macias walk-off hit.

“It felt great to beat Santa Barbara in a walk-off fashion because they’re our biggest rival and we wanted to keep the four year winning streak going,” said Macias.  “It was really a team win though, everyone was trying to contribute to the win in any way they could.”

The Chargers also swept all three games against rival San Marcos High School.

DP will look to advance further in the CIF playoffs this year, after exiting in the first round last time around.

“We just got to play clean baseball, the way we’ve been playing it the last few weeks,” said Katzenstein. “We got to get great pitching and continue to get that. Hopefully our bats come around a little bit. Our offense has stepped up a little bit in the last few games. We’ve scored a few more runs than our average, but solid pitching and defense is going to win those games.”

DP will host Villa Park on Friday at 3:15 p.m. in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 2 playoffs.

Katzenstein said his Chargers have had “timely hitting” this season.

“That’s gonna help us down the stretch,” he said.

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