Village News Reporter
Bonsall High School's baseball team played two road games before the Legionnaires' first home game of the 2023 season March 28 against Warner High School, and the home opener was also Bonsall's first win of the season.
Infield grounders and high throws gave Warner a run in the top of the first. Bonsall responded with six runs in the bottom of the first, three in the second, two in the third, and three in the fourth.
Although the CIF no longer has a 10-run mercy rule for baseball, the CIF enacted a pitch count rule in 2017 which includes a minimum period before pitching again based on how many pitchers have thrown. Bonsall coach Danny Mencias and Warner coach Jeff French agreed to call the game after 4 1/2 innings due to the limited number of Warner pitchers, with Bonsall winning 14-1.
"Guys came out a little nervous. They made a couple of mistakes. They rallied together," Mencias said.
The Legionnaires had lost their previous two games, so the win gave Bonsall a season record of 1-2. "Actually I'm pretty happy with the record that we currently have," Mencias said. "Since we're so young, I was not expecting a win tonight, but the guys showed they could certainly do some damage."
Bonsall High School added baseball in 2022. The Legionnaires play home games at the Pala Sports Complex. The inaugural baseball team last year posted a season record of 4-12-1 including a 2-6 Patriot League mark which placed Bonsall fourth in the final five-team standings. Bonsall began the season with 19 players and ended the season with 16 players with the losses due primarily to grades. Nine of those 16 players were seniors.
This year, the team has 18 players, although one is a transfer and has to sit out 30 days. Seven of this year's players are freshmen, and six of the nine starters against Warner are ninth graders. Two are seniors, including one who was ill March 28 and did not play.
Last year, Bonsall practiced as well as played home games at the Pala Sports Complex. This year, the team has been practicing at the high school. "We haven't even had time to be out here on the field. This was our second day on this field," Mencias said after the win over Warner. "With the rain, we've been pretty much shut down."
Storms postponed all but two games prior to the home opener. Those games were a 12-0 loss March 7 at Guajome Academy and a 17-6 defeat March 9 at Mountain Empire. "The other two games, we struggled," Mencias said.
Warner High School had baseball in 2006 when French was a senior and played for the Wildcats. The school had baseball for the following six seasons but did not field the sport from 2013 to 2022.
"It's been 11 years since we've had a team. Some of the boys never held a bat before," French said.
"They were where we were at last year," Mencias said.
French's baseball team consists of 17 players including 16 who were on the 2022 football team. "It's about learning baseball," French said.
Mencias had 14 players available March 28 including one who was ill and opted not to participate. The other 13 all played against Warner.
Bonsall sophomore Peyton Yang pitched against the Wildcats. Yang did not allow a hit and struck out 13 batters with groundouts accounting for Warner's other two outs. "It was phenomenal," Mencias said. "They did not get a ball in the outfield tonight."
After ceding the run in the top of the first, the Legionnaires tied the game in the bottom of the inning when freshman Raul Martinez Jr. stole third and scored when the throw to the base went over the fielder and into the outfield. Bonsall took the lead later in the inning when freshman Henry Walter hit a two-run double to right field.
Bonsall had only seven hits against Warner, including three doubles, but the Wildcats issued 13 walks to Bonsall batters during the Legionnaires' four batting innings. Warner pitchers walked freshman Evan Pepper three times while senior Damien Sauileone, freshman Aiden Lee, freshman Adam Hawthorne, and Martinez walked twice apiece. Walter and freshman Joshua Aguiar each walked once.
Martinez and sophomore Orlando Mencias joined Walter in hitting a double in the Legionnaires' home opener while Aguiar, Hawthorne, Pepper, and Yang had singles. Aguiar, Martinez, Mencias, Pepper, Walter, and Yang each scored two runs while Lee and Sauileone scored once apiece.
"It was a fun game. Fun game, fun night," Danny Mencias said.
"Guys gave it their best," Mencias said. "That's what I want to see, just kids getting out here, enjoying the game."