Paso Robles’ continues success with only league loss against Arroyo Grande

Coming into the season with high expectations coming off last year’s run, the Paso High baseball team has silenced its doubters by going 13-3 to start off the season. With three shutouts and four games in which they’ve only allowed one run leading to a collective 1.52 Earned Run Average, an overall .232 batting average and 36 steals – 19 of which have been swiped by senior Bailey Gaither – the Bearcats have been able to match last year’s performance.

With the two losses coming against non-league opponents in Merced and Thousand Oaks in three and two run games respectively, and their lone league loss coming against Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles’ squad is in a position to be able to lock up a CIF berth after beginning 6-1 in league play.

So far, the Bearcats have outscored their opponents 95-41, and according to sophomore pitcher Nolan Binkele, they’ve been able to find that success as result of their unity as a team.

“People know that it’s not an individual sport, and that you need to play as a team and not only think about your success but how the team is doing,” Binkele said. “We’ve had a couple problems where we get down on ourselves and it affects the whole atmosphere of playing.”

One returner from last year, although not necessarily a player, is coach Derek Stroud, who’s been able to see the difficulties and emerging leaders in the clubhouse.

“I think the last few games we need to compete a little better and play a little hungrier.” Stroud said. As for the individuals at the heart of the team, Stroud refers to more than just one person. “I think Jon Baldwin has done a great job and has been a great leader for us example-wise, Bailey Gaither has done a great job in keeping the team together. Those two have done a lot.” Stroud said. “I think Matt Keller, doesn’t really say a lot but he’s a solid leader for us, and Ben Mecham has been a leader in the outfield,” Stroud said.

Last year, the team went 20-7-2, but with the losses of leaders in the clubhouse last year like former pitcher Paul Anderson and catcher Kai Bedell, other leaders have had to step up, like catcher Mark Armstrong and pitcher Jeff Neumann, who has six wins and a 1.46 Earned Run Average, with a Walks/Hits per Innings pitched of .891.

“I think that a lot of my success has come from my ability to get routine plays because it accumulates momentum for the team,” Neumann said. “[Despite the losses] we need to pick ourselves up and compete just like we have the first six games. We have the talent and the all around potential and we just need to accomplish our goal.”

After Arroyo Grande, they have two more games apiece against PAC-8 newcomer Mission Prep and old rival Righetti. If all goes well, they will continue well into May with the CIF tournament.

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