The Coast News Group
The Carlsbad High School baseball team continues to battle in the highly competitive Coastal League. Photo by Michael Cazares
The Carlsbad High School baseball team continues to battle in the highly competitive Coastal League. Photo by Michael Cazares
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Lancers remain confident amid thorny Coastal League schedule

For Carlsbad High School, Coastal League baseball games are never easy wins.

“Without a doubt, the Coastal League is the top league in San Diego,” said Lancers’ head coach Scott De Jong. “It is very difficult. My goal coming into this season was to prepare ourselves as best we could by playing as many teams comparable [to the Coastal League] before league play.”

At this point last year, the Lancers were coming off a season-opening 13-game win streak. They burned hot, fast and then out, dropping 12 of the next 20 and losing in the opening round of the Division I CIF SoCal Baseball Championships to Santa Margarita.

“One of the issues we ran into last year was that we had a good squad and started out 13-0 because our strength of schedule wasn’t very difficult early on, and then when we got into league play, we faced some tougher teams, and it bit us in the butt a little bit,” De Jong said.

At 12-9, 6-3 in the Coastal League, the Lancers aren’t where De Jong wants them yet, and that is partially by design.

“Our strength of schedule is first or second in the county,” De Jong said. “When I built the schedule this year, I knew I’d have a very strong group, and we wanted to build the most competitive schedule we could, and I think we did that.”

Carlsbad took the first four games of the season before sputtering out against Sage Creek and Patrick Henry, getting outscored a combined 23-1. The Lancers followed up with a commanding 11-1 win against Narbonne before dropping their next four.

Over the last eight games, Carlsbad is 5-3.

“We had a two-week slide where we played like crap,” De Jong said. “We weren’t doing the little things right; our pitching wasn’t there; we weren’t situationally hitting well, and now we are coming out of that playing some better baseball.”

After reviewing his roster and dissecting the season through late April, De Jong is confident in the team’s potential if everything comes together.

“With the exception of a couple of games, we’ve pitched extremely well,” he said. “We started off the season hitting great, but since facing better competition; really good pitchers; it’s been a little bit more difficult scoring runs. Playing a harder schedule has prepared us to play tougher teams later in the year; I am confident in that.”

Losing starting pitcher and junior UCLA commit Ian Fisher to injury has put more pressure on senior ace Tyler Foster to register quality starts.

“Before the injury to Ian, we were fortunate to have a 1A and a 1B at the top of our starting rotation,” De Jong said.

Before the injury, Fisher was 2-0 with 16 strikeouts in 10 innings pitched.

Foster leads the team in both innings pitched and strikeouts and holds an earned run average of 2.06.

“Tyler is Tyler,” De Jong said. “He’s done whatever we’ve asked him all year. He’s had one tough start against Sage Creek, but besides that, he’s putting quality starts out there, pushing fastballs in the upper 80s and competing, being a horse.”

Freshman third baseman Matthew Kelley leads the team in hits while learning the intricacies of an entirely new position.

“Matt came in with super high expectations and has played great,” De Jong said. He had never played third before in his life, so that has been a bit of a change. He’s still learning the game, picking up nuance here and there, and he’s been a super productive part of our team.”

De Jong also singled out senior Griffin Moye and junior Ayden Munoz as having been particularly dangerous in the batter’s box through three-quarters of the regular season.

“Griffin has been statistically our best player offensively,” De Jong said. “Ayden has been phenomenal all year for us. He’s hit more hardballs than anyone on our team, including two opposite field home runs as a lefty.”

The regular season runs through May 9, with series against Coastal League rivals Del Norte, San Marcos and Rancho Bernardo remaining.

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