Struggling to find early wins

After ending league with a 6-9 record last year and missing the postseason, the Diamond Bar High School baseball team has been unable to find a rhythm thus far, struggling to find the strike zone and drive in runs. 

“It’s unfortunate because we are a much better team [than last year], but we lack a lot of confidence right now,” head coach Jon Hurst said. “Because this year’s team is better, we put together a tougher preseason schedule to try playing at a higher level, but we’ve had a bit of failure and struggles along the way.”

Hurst described how the most essential component that will turn the season around is for pitchers to consistently throw strikes in the zone. 

“If pitchers start competing and throw strikes to give our defense a chance to make plays from behind, our expectation is that we’re going to win,” he said. “But if we’re struggling to throw strikes, then it’s going to be tough for us.”

In order to develop their pitchers, Diamond Bar has taken full advantage of the bullpen areas to give athletes authentic in-game conditions. 

“Along with working on the edges and trying to hit their spots, we’ve practiced giving them situations and putting them in in-game scenarios that is going to help them,” Hurst said. “It’s like saying there are runners on first and second, there are this many outs and the [pitch] count is this. We then observe what they are going to do.” 

On the offensive side of the game, the Brahmas have shown improvement in batting, increasing scoring opportunities for Diamond Bar and increasing their on-base percentage.

“Getting on base has been tough for us lately, but we started having better at-bats where we’ve seen more pitches and we’re taking better swings,” Hurst said.

Similar to the pitchers, the batters are also inserted into hypothetical situations during their practices, testing whether the Brahmas act accordingly and are able to execute based on the strategies Hurst has implemented within his system.

“Let’s say there’s a runner on second base and there’s nobody out,” he said. “The right thing to do would be hitting the ball to the right side [of the field], so we can move the runner to third base and potentially score them in a variety of ways. It’s putting them in scenarios that they’re going to experience so they can work on it and have success.”

In spite of not having practical success just yet, Diamond Bar has exceptional team chemistry this year. 

“They have fantastic team chemistry, and I think that’s one of the toughest things about high school sports: trying to create that unity so there’s not divided between grade levels,” Hurst said. “It’s going to be one of our strengths moving forward, which is going to allow us to turn this around and be more successful.” 

Throughout the course of the season, Diamond Bar will rely on the pitching of freshman Sean Gonzales and senior Will Murphy. Offensively, the Brahmas depend on the four main senior outfielders of Ryan Wang, Jacob Parkin, Dylan Karanickolas and Chase Ferguson. 

In their first home league game against the Ontario Jaguars, the Brahmas’ comeback fell short after being down six runs in the third inning, losing 10-7. Although the Brahma defense recorded two scoreless innings against a high-powered Jaguar offense, Diamond Bar hitters failed to capitalize on opportunities while being shut out in four of their six innings.

The Brahmas lost again by a larger deficit in their next league match against the Montclair Cavaliers, 9-2. This caused Diamond Bar to lose their seventh consecutive game of the season, second in league play after going winless in five preseason games. 

Diamond Bar finally broke into the win column last Monday after facing the Chino Cowboys, edging out a close game, 4-3. The Brahmas now have a 1-2 league record and an overall record of 1-7.