Baseball tries to build momentum, but stumbles in early-season games

March 15, 2023 — by Anirudh Iyer
Courtesy of Lori Timmons
Senior Lucas Dennis standing on second base in Saratoga’s game against Del Mar
After a couple of up and down seasons, the Falcons are ready to build on a productive 2021-22 campaign and strive to reach CCS and beyond.

Spring sports have just begun, and with it, the start of a new baseball season. Though the Falcons lost a tough 0-2 nailbiter to Menlo School on Feb. 24 to kick off their campaign, they followed that difficult game up with two dominating wins: a 7-1 thrashing of Prospect on March 1, and a 10-2 dismantling of Del Mar on March 7. 

Coming off a strong 2021-22 season, where the Falcons went deep into the playoffs and finished with a league record of 9-6, this year’s baseball lineup has high expectations for what’s to come. 

In the game against the Prospect Panthers,  captain and pitcher Lucas Dennis started the game on the mound before giving way to the bullpen, who closed the game comfortably. After three 2/3 solid innings, sophomore pitcher Doug Bettinger relieved Dennis and struck out the final batter in the fourth inning. Junior pitcher Shane Timmons closed the game out with three stellar innings of his own and excellent variety in his pitches. With those three and sophomore lefty Aiden Chen, the Falcons’ pitching group is a force to be reckoned with. 

Saratoga’s victory away at Del Mar played out similarly. Flamethrower Shane Timmons wowed with his 14 strikeouts across a commanding seven innings. With 20 strikeouts across just 11 innings pitched so far this season, he ranks in the top five in the Central Coast Section (CCS). The bats were heated up for the Falcons at Del Mar also — key contributors to those 10 runs were junior infielder Abhinav Kiran, who went 3-4 with three runs scored and an RBI, and sophomore Samanyu Ram, who crossed home plate on three separate occasions as well. 

Next, the Falcons’ game against Lincoln was postponed to a recent spell of rainy weather. 

They followed that up with a 2-0 loss at Homestead on March 11. On March 15, Mountain View thumped the Falcons 8-0, a forgettable game filled with errors on defense and unproductive at bats. 

Even so, Saratoga has piled up runs in most games: Dennis, Chen, Timmons and Bettinger have shown themselves to be high-level sluggers, with the former two possessing over a .300 batting average in the 2021-22 season. Senior second baseman Ojas Somani and senior outfielder Kian Teymouri also provide impact with the bat.

The Mountain View loss was Saratoga’s last preseason outing, and every future game will now be part of the league season, with results going towards potential CCS qualification. The Falcons’ first league game is against Cupertino at home on Mar. 16.

This season has seen a major squad revamp – the team has suffered key losses to graduation last spring; integral players to last year’s successes such as catcher Derek Casini, pitcher Som Teymouri, and outfielder Alexander Lam have been mostly replaced by ambitious underclassmen. The Falcons have a young squad this year, with five sophomores and one freshman on the 15-member varsity roster.

Dennis said freshman utility player Trenton Walsh would play a big role in the upcoming games, whether it be as a spark plug impact substitute, or even as a potential starter. 

“He’s a young guy, but I think he can really be someone who we can plug and chug into games over a bunch of different situations, and his ability and flexibility make him a really valuable piece,” Dennis said. “To offer that much as a freshman is really awesome to us; he doesn’t look out of place at all, which is often the case for younger players.”

Dennis said the team has set the goal of qualifying for CCS as a more difficult target, but would definitely be aiming for a record comfortably above .500.

“I think this season, though it is my last, has the potential to be my best one,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to playing baseball over these next couple of months.”

Tags: baseball
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