Baseball: Injuries plague diminished Falcon roster

April 23, 2010 — by Roy Bisht and David Eng

In Major League baseball, injuries are serious obstacles that clubs must learn to overcome. However, the plethora of minor league players ready to step up and the highly experienced team of medical personnel eases the painful injuries that so often rear their ugly heads.

This year, the Falcons have learned that, in this respect, high school baseball is nothing like the Majors. At the high school level, where teams usually carry around 15 players, injuries can be extremely dangerous.

Saratoga’s season has been plagued by severe injuries, a main source of the Falcons’ struggles. Even before the season’s first pitch, the Falcons had already lost freshman infielder/pitcher Stevie Berman and senior pitcher Vinnie Carstens to season-ending elbow and shoulder surgeries, respectively. Berman was expected to provide an offensive punch in the middle of the batting lineup. Carstens was projected to be the team’s ace pitcher.

“Losing [Carstens] was a huge blow to our pitching staff, because he was our best pitcher and we expected him to have a good season for us this year,” said junior pitcher Yoonbin Kim. “Injuries have really limited our roster which is already really small to begin with.”

The loss of Carstens also forced varsity head coach Manny Steffen to teach regular position players to pitch, and according to Kim, the absence of experienced hurlers has made it much harder to compete in the upper De Anza league.

“With Carstens out for the season, pretty much everyone who hasn’t pitched now has to pitch, because now we need as much pitching as we possibly can get if we want to compete with the rest of the league,” said junior infielder Tim Lycurgus.

Over the course of the season, the team also has seen senior pitcher Jon Chen (foot), Kim (back/knee), senior outfielder Jon Hurrell (back), Lycurgus (ankle), and catcher/infielder Andy Berman (finger) all sit out due to injury for several games each. To their credits all have fought through the pain and back into the lineup. Halfway through the season, the team also lost sophomore infielder Roy Bisht and junior pitcher/infielder Dillan Pak to season-ending elbow injuries.

Injuries have definitely shone through in the team’s performance, vis-a-vis wins and losses. Through nine league games, Saratoga holds a mediocre 1-7-1 league record, outscored 89-24 in those games with numerous double-digit run differentials.

During spring break, the team trekked to Reno to compete in the Northern Nevada Classic, a tournament featuring teams from the nearby states. In the first game, the Falcons crushed Elko High in a 17-1 blowout, but over the next three games they did not fare as well, losing 23-5 to Spanish Springs, 11-9 to McQueen, and 19-9 to Central Valley to send them home with a fourth place finish out of seven teams.

Perhaps some of the few bright spots this season have been the individual performances of various players. Through 16 games, senior outfielder Grant Thomas boasts a tremendous .333 batting average and leads the team with 9 stolen bases. Senior catcher Andy Berman, the Falcons’ primary power threat and cleanup hitter, has a .259 batting average with 21 runs batted in and a team-high 5 home runs.

Pak and freshman outfielder Kyle Dozier are having standout seasons as well. Dozier leads the team with 25 hits while Pak has eaten up a team-high 41 innings and has a respectable 4.10 ERA on the mound. Pak has also contributed significantly at the plate with a .346 batting average.
Regardless of the tremendous season last year and the strong expectations for this year, those keeping track of the team can chalk this one up as a rebuilding year.

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