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TC Eagles begin a new era of baseball
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Freshman Ryan Leonesio slides into third base during Wednesdays 13-1 win over Stone Ridge Christian from the Pedretti Sports Complex. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal

League play kicked off on Wednesday for the Turlock Christian baseball team and the Eagles didn't disappoint when they hosted Stone Ridge Christian High from the Pedretti Sports Complex.

The Eagles jumped out early to a 6-0 lead heading into the second and led 9-0 by the second before ending the game at 13-1 after a five-inning mercy-rule decision.

“Coming into a game, the toughest part is keeping your team focused for all games and keeping the kids up no matter what because no team will just walk over and die,” said TC head coach James Burbank.

“They competed and we played a good game and were aggressive.”

Aggressive could be an understatement for an Eagles squad that came away with over half a dozen stolen bases for the game alone.

“If I think we can make a play then we will,” said Burbank. “We have the sticks as well. I’m super excited, we are pretty strong top to bottom, even our bench.”

TC welcomes a herd of freshmen who seem to mesh well with the current group after just two games.

The Eagles tied Denair 10-10 in their preseason opener on March 6.

In just two games, TC has scored 23 runs.

“I am excited with who we have,” said Burbank. “We lost three seniors who graduated and all three were impact players. We were looking on how to refine and we have a great group of eighth grade kids come up who love to play the game of baseball and they work well together and are great teammates.”

Those six—now freshmen—include Ryan Leonesio, Elijah Gregg, Markie Delgadillo, Adam Rocha, Micah Bergthold and Howie Skinner.

“I am stoked, as a coach,” said Burbank. “I basically take whatever we have at the junior high program and they grew up in the Turlock Christian program and they are amazing baseball players, but what I am even more proud of is they are amazing young men, that is what I am proud of more than anything.”

The Eagles also return sophomore standouts from a year ago, in Ethan Fisher, Brynn David, Liam Jones and Micah Blomenkamp.

“I am not just excited about this year, but I am excited for the future years of TC baseball,” said Burbank.

The team only has two seniors and a pair of juniors that includes Eli Roos and Jakob Skinner.

They needed the help of the entire squad on Wednesday afternoon against SRC.

Leonesio started the game and tossed just two shutout innings before Jones came in to relieve.

Jones tossed three innings and allowed a run, but struck out two of the final three batters faced.

“Ryan threw a great first inning and second, but we are always looking to conserve the pitch count because if he throws over 30 pitches, he has to rest and I can't use him Friday,” said Burbank. “The pitch count will dictate just about everything. We have to start someone else Friday, obviously, but we want to be able to have our ace just in case.”

From that point on, TC dominated the plate with their stout hitting and ran up the score to 13 by the end of the fourth inning.

“… timely hits and timely walks, timely errors and we got up early and were able to yank it,” said Burbank. “Our biggest thing is we want to go out and compete and stay within ourselves and our brand of baseball, which is pretty good ball. We like to play good defense, good pitching and we like to, of course, swing the bat.

“We have the heart coming up, there is a gauntlet of good teams we have to get through, we are just going to take it one game at a time,” he added. “We just want to win one game at a time and if we do that we can reach our goal.”

TC will next travel on the road to take on Stone Ridge Christian at 4 p.m. Friday.