FAIRFIELD — The Solano Mudcats collegiate baseball team declared its independence from the Sacramento Rural League this season and so far the results are mixed.
The Mudcats have certainly been successful on the field, posting a 11-2 record through Sunday, but easy victories and a gaudy record aren’t necessarily the goal for 2014.
“We won the (SRL) the last two years,” said co-manager Shawn Scibek, who was one of the original founders of the team in 1990. “We’re trying to seek a little bit better competition. I’m not saying the (Fairfield) Indians and Novato Knicks aren’t great competition, they are. A couple other (SRL) teams aren’t. We want to play the best competition.”
Whoever they play, the opposition will face a deep Mudcats’ pitching staff, which seems to get deeper every time Scibek puts someone new on the mound.
“It’s starting to come together,” Scibek said of his pitching staff. “It’s kind of funny because everybody I’ve given the ball to has done a good job. We’re probably going to a four-man rotation, but a couple of guys have surprised me.
“It’s crazy, A.J. Quintero’s thrown a great start, Angel Lara’s thrown a great start. Donnie Gardiner came in in long relief and threw 6 1-3 (innings). Everybody I’ve asked has done really well, but I’m going to pick four starters and pick a rotation.”
Topping that rotation are Lara (Dixon High, Solano Community College) and Quintero (Vacaville, Cal State Monterey Bay).
“Those two guys stand out,” Scibek said.
Gardiner (Vacaville, Butte College) and Jared Carr (Vanden, Holy Names University) round out Scibek’s top four, though he still’s pondering other impressive possibilities.
Connor McCoy (Holy Names) is also in the mix – “He’s a starter,” Scibek said. “I’m sure he’ll get his shot to be a starter” as is Gordie Clary (Vacaville, Willamette University), who also plays first base.
Jesse Savage (Vanden, Holy Names) is the closer, with Trevor Steele (Vacaville, Napa Valley College) and Dylan Montano (Eastern New Mexico University) in long relief.
They will be throwing to either Hudson Bishop (Benicia) or Mike Secrist (Woodland, Cabrillo College).
“They’re going to split time,” Scibek said. “Hudson hits better, but Mike has done a great job as well.”
First base will be manned by Clary or Chad Fortney (Vacaville, Solano), with Joe Murray (Davis, Loyola Marymount) at second base.
“He’s our leadoff hitter, too,” Scibek said of Murray. “Love that kid.”
The left side of the infield has Tucker Bishop (Benicia, Solano), Hudson Bishop’s older brother, at third base and Alvara Rubalcaba at shortstop.
“He’s the best amateur shortstop I’ve ever come across defensively – bar none,” Scibek said of Rubalcaba. “He’s got some major skills.”
Manning the outfield are Nick Perez (Rodriguez, Solano) in left, Cody Marshall (Wood, College of the Redwoods) in center and Nick Spini (Armijo, Solano, East Central) in right.
“He’s a leader, he works really hard,” Scibek said of Spini. “He’s playing very well in the outfield and hitting the ball well, too.”
Mark Foley (Wood ENMU), whom Scibek praises as a team leader, is the designated hitter.
“If someone has to voice up and get the guys going, he’s the guy,” Scibek said.
Backing up seemingly everywhere is Matt Smith (Vacaville, Holy Names).
“No one plays as hard as him,” Scibek said. “He dives, he’s our spark plug, I just mix him in where I need him.”
Where previous Mudcats teams had more power at the plate or power arms on the mound, Scibek feels this year’s squad will make its mark with its gloves.
“The whole team is set up around our defense this year,” he said. “I think that’s what’s making a difference. We’re making the plays where we’re picking the ball all over the place.”
Managing this year with Scibek is Ben Crombie.
“We hash it out,” Scibek said of the decision-making process. “We’re both doing it together. It’s been a lot of fun. He’s an ex-ballplayer and me and him are co-managers this year.”
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.