ROCKVILLE — Scoring runs is valuable when trying to win baseball games. Preventing them is just as important.
The Solano Community College baseball team got its season under way, Tuesday, and SCC head coach Scott Stover sees his team’s defensive as the team’s strongest asset.
“Our defense up the middle is going to be key for us,” Stover said during the team’s Media Day, Friday. “You have David Fernandez from Armijo, who was our shortstop from last year that we moved over to second to this season, and he will be our closer. Alvaro Rubalcaba will start at short. They are two very good glove guys. And then in center field from Fairfield High will be Giovanni Torres, who has done everything the right way.”
Stover says having Torres roaming center field and backing up his infielders is the right man for the job, even when he’s not on the field.
“He got our Falcon award,” Stover continued. “He’s a 4.0 student. He does everything right on the field (and off). He’s the type of kid you want your daughter to marry. With those kind of guys up the middle, we can have some huge success.
“And we have a good defensive catcher in Ian Acosta. That’s going to be the key for our defense. If our (pitchers) throw strikes, keep the ball down and get a lot of ground balls, we’re going to win a lot of games.”
Rubalcaba likes the way his team looks up the middle, but thinks SCC’s defense as a whole is also good.
“All around, our infield is stacked,” he said. “I think we are going to be really solid (defensively). I think we can go far in the playoffs. You always have to have confidence in your pitchers. We do have pretty good pitching, but we have a lot of room to improve pitching-wise. . . . Little by little, we will get there during the season and we’ll be good.”
As with many teams, the catcher is the go-to guy when setting up his team defensively. His main job will be keeping his defenders – and pitchers – in the game mentally.
“I’m just going to help keep us on track,” Acosta said. “If the pitchers are pounding high, you got to have them bring it in low, give them talks and feedback. (With Rubalcaba and Fernandez), we have a good relationship. We read each other pretty well, for the most part. We’re pretty tight.”
Torres likes what he sees in the middle infielders that will play in front of him.
“I know Alvaro is going to go out and track down balls,” Torres said. “I know we have good chemistry coming in (to the season). Me and Fernandez have played together for three years now, so we know each other pretty well. We have some pretty good chemistry up the middle.”
Even with all the players being familiar with each other, Stover doesn’t think there will be a problem with other players being left out of the loop.
“The concern you have is cliques,” the coach said. “Will there be cliques with these kids that have played together since they were 9, 10, 11 years old? Will they let the other guys come in? That has not been the case . . .
“That wasn’t the case in 2011 (when the team finished 31-10). In other years before that and in 2012 and parts of 2013, that was the case. It wasn’t a huge factor, but it makes the chemistry not as well as it could be. Here, we haven’t seen that. They all treat each other with the same amount of respect. They all hang out together. . . . I think they enjoy each other’s company. . . . and that should carry over onto the field.”
Stover noted this team is very comparable to his team from three seasons ago.
“This group we have out here is most comparable to the 2011 group,” he said. “They are good kids, with good family support, probably the best group of students we’ve had. Fourteen of the 28 players got academic honors this semester. They are a good group of kids. Now the question is to get tested baseball-wise. We’ll find out.”
Another thing Stover has always done is put together his team from the talent of the local high schools, something he prides himself on.
“The goal every year is to focus on Solano County and go after the guys we need,” said Stover whose team finished 23-14 a season ago. “If there is a need we have at a certain position, whether it’s out of the bullpen, a catcher and we don’t have those guys here in Solano County then we expand out. We really focus on the local guys.
“There wasn’t a lot of infielders in the this class . . . so we went out and got a kid from Antelope. But for the most part, it’s Solano County guys. A lot of these kids grew up playing together in (American) Legion or Little League. It’s good that these guys know each other. For them to stay together . . . it’s really rewarding.”
A true test for the Falcons will be on the pitching mound, where Stover admits he doesn’t have the one go-to guy as an ace.
“I don’t think we have a true ace this year (on the mound),” Stover admitted. “Drew Lamont was the third starter last year. He’ll start for us. Dylan Dumapay, who looks like he shouldn’t even be on a baseball field, he won 11 games for Rodriguez in his two years on the varsity at 5-foot-6, he’s going to get starts for us and he had a great fall.
“Ryan Earnest, our only out-of-state kid, he’ll start some games. We don’t have a real ace so our bullpen is going to be the key, especially on the back end with Fernandez being the closer. . . . Our bullpen is going to be more of the key than our starting pitching, though the starters should be able to carry us for six of seven innings a game.”
And rely on their team’s solid defense.
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.