The Bruins are hoping that strong team chemistry can get them going after their worst start to a season in the 21 years under coach Andy Hall. They lost their first three games by one run, and two of them went to the 10th inning.
“It’s hard to not be frustrated because we’ve been a little snake bit,” Hall said. “I’ve been around the block enough times to know it’s going to turn and we’ll start to get the breaks. We’ll start pitching better and get some hits and hopefully it’s in time for the Moore League.”
Hall decided not to cut any player who tried out for baseball this year, so Wilson has 23 guys on the varsity roster. Senior Sebastian Smith said that hasn’t caused any strife in terms of playing time.
“We’ve all known each other for a long time and we all know that we’ve got each other’s backs,” Smith said. “We’re just all going to be supportive and pick each other up when we’re down. We’ve had a slow start, but now that we’re starting to roll we’ve got a lot of guys who are promising. There’s guys we can rely on.”
Wilson will rely on junior Charlie Royle to be the ace of the pitching staff. He had a good freshman season, and picked up a few wins last year, but is still a young developing talent who is a verbal commit to Cal Poly.
“In theory he’s still a sophomore in my mind, and I think he has some proving left to do in his own mind,” Hall said.
Smith, senior Tommy O’Toole and junior Xander McLaurin have been the other starting options and the first arms out of the bullpen. However, Hall said he can see the physical toll taken out of guys like O’Toole and McLaurin who are playing multiple sports right now. O’Toole is getting ready to go with the basketball team, and football quarterback McLaurin became the first Bruin ever to play a varsity baseball and football game in the same day last month.
“You can see that they’re a little worn thin,” Hall said. “It’s a lot to ask of these kids. But we’re in a pandemic year and we’re just trying to get them some playing time in both places.”
Both O’Toole and McLaurin are also starters in the outfield and fill out the heart of the lineup. At the top of the lineup will be shortstop Brett Abudayyeh. He can also play in the outfield where he’s picked up good experience over the last two seasons. Hall said Abudayyeh uses his athleticism, speed and good hand-eye coordination to get on base.
Wilson will be experienced up the middle with second baseman and two-hole hitter DJ Erkman back after starting there last season as a junior.
Smith and fellow senior John Lanterman have been fixtures in the heart of the order. Smith has mostly been playing third base, and Lanterman has been in the outfield.
“I got a lot stronger in the offseason,” Smith said. “I joined a travel ball team in Arizona and worked out with Lanterman almost every other day last summer. I’ve never been more focused in my life. I know so many guys on other teams and I just want to beat them and get that league championship.”
Slick fielding first baseman A.J. Castano and catcher Joe McGrath round out the bottom of the Wilson batting order.