After nearly a month since its last game due to cancellations and postponements because of rain, the Calistoga High baseball team finally resumed its season and returned to the field for games last week.
The Wildcats’ first game back didn’t go as planned. The rust from a three-week hiatus was still apparent in a lopsided 23-4 loss to Credo at home on Friday. But the Wildcats rebounded with a solid performance on Tuesday, albeit in a 6-2 loss to Upper Lake (5-5, 4-2 North Central League II).
“I don’t even know where to start with Friday. Friday was weird. We’re not that team,” said Calistoga head coach Earl Caruthers on Tuesday. “I don’t know what happened; we just didn’t come ready to play. … But today, they came ready. We fought hard.”
With their season finally starting up again, the Wildcats will have a sprint to the finish as they try to cram in make-up games for the remainder of a regular-season schedule that is supposed to conclude on May 9.
The Wildcats have played only five games this season, but have 10 scheduled between now and their finale against Upper Lake in three weeks.
They’ll have their first of those 10 games on Wednesday, a make-up against Rincon Valley Christian that was rescheduled from Monday, before hosting a doubleheader against Tomales on Friday.
While the prospect of playing all of these games in such a short amount of time is somewhat daunting for Caruthers, he’s just happy to be back on the field.
“It’s been awesome and it’s great but it’s just a lot of baseball at once,” he said. “The whole practice-coaching aspect of it gets kind of thrown out of the window now in the second half of the season, because we’re playing three or four games a week. But don’t get me wrong, I’d rather have the sun out. … I’ll take it, I love the sun. I want more of it.”
The Wildcats have been practicing in lieu of their games but have been confined to the indoor gyms while rain has soaked most of Northern California over the past month. While there hasn’t been much time off from the game, even with the rainouts, there’s only so much a team can accomplish practicing an outdoor sport indoors.
“I think it’s like anything else in life, even if you’re not playing a sport. You’re inside for some reason, you start getting stir crazy,” Caruthers said. “So, when you have a whole bunch of 14- to 16-year-olds, they get stir crazy a lot quicker, too. … They’ve been a little more excited since we’ve been outside, too.”
That morale took a bit of a hit after the 23-4 drudging last Friday, but Caruthers said the Wildcats’ performance on Tuesday gave them some of their confidence back.
Upper Lake, which is currently third in the league, needed a late rally to fend off the Wildcats. Calistoga scored two runs in the fifth to make it a 4-2 game heading into the sixth, but the Cougars scored two more runs in the bottom half of the sixth to seal the 6-2 win.
Junior Adan Rodriguez pitched a complete game for Calistoga, allowing all six runs but striking out five in his six innings of work.
Fellow junior Jesue Rojas-Mendoza went 3-for-3 from the plate with an RBI, and Rodriguez went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored in trying to help his own cause.
It was a step in the right direction for the Wildcats, even if they didn’t get the win.
“There was improvement through every single at-bat today with guys, and our defense got better every inning,” Caruthers said. “I’m hoping by the end of this week that we can kind of get back on track because I’m definitely a firm believer that the record says who you are. But we’re not playing up to standard. It’s not one of those things where this is a really bad ball club; we’ve just got to stop getting in our own way and we would’ve been in most of these games.”
The season may need a sprint to the finish for Calistoga, but the Wildcats are just happy to be back in the sunshine and playing again.