When Dave Ryan replaced longtime Yolo Post 77 coach Matt Castles earlier this year, he knew all about the early-season frustrations his American Legion baseball team would face.
Waiting for high school campaigns to end in talent-rich Yolo County can be tricky. This month is a case in point …
Upstart Pioneer finished third in its league, then shocked the world by winning the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title on Monday.
Meanwhile, Davis High — which had nine current and former Blue Devils play for Post 77 in 2013 — will be locked up this coming weekend with St. Mary’s for the D-I championship.
Ryan also hoped there wouldn’t be further concerns — like dwindling involvement in the nation’s second-oldest amateur athletic organization.
So last fall, Ryan did something about diminishing returns when he formed the Top 10 Baseball School.
Ryan said at the time that the goal was to provide top-notch instruction for local players ages 14 and up — and work to feed accomplished players into the local American Legion program.
While the response to this summer’s Post 77 team has been good from most area schools, at this point Yolo has only one current varsity Blue Devil (pitcher Ted Riffle) committed to American Legion ball this summer.
“We’re hoping others are coming once the playoffs end,” Ryan told The Enterprise. “We’ll see. Why not play on a team with a lot of history on a baseball field with a lot of history?”
Non-varsity Davisites Noel Parente, Joe Honig, Andrew Bolich and Daniel Henrickson were weekend warriors for Ryan and should be around all summer.
Meanwhile, Post 77 navigated the District 6 Memorial Tournament by going 2-2 with a makeshift roster that included a potpourri of younger players mixed in with veterans like Woodland grad Thomas Galart and ex-Blue Devil (by way of Loyola Marymount University) Joe Murray.
Ryan is excited by the promise of a quartet of Pioneer playoff players who plan to wear the Yolo uniform. The group includes Andrew Fuentes, who struck out nine in beating Lincoln, 2-0 in the D-III title game, and the versatile James Shimada.
Woodland senior Taz Ahmad and catcher/pitcher Logan Linney have traded their orange for the Post 77 red. Ahmad pitched over the weekend and Linney could make his Yolo debut later this week (Ryan’s troops have their home opener Wednesday at Clark Field against the Chico Nuts. Colors are presented with the first pitch following at 6:05 p.m.).
Dalton Sachs, from Pierce High (Arbuckle), threw a complete-game gem in an 8-1 win over West Sacramento on Saturday and, with the likes of Fuentes, Ahmad and Riffle also headed to the Clark Field mound, Ryan looks to be loaded with capable arms.
Esparto standout Ethan Chrisp returns and teammate James Schwenger has reported with him.
Ryan will be assisted by his son Josh and another ex-DHS performer, Chase Hunt-Murray. Esparto’s Jeff Lopez also returns to the coaching staff.
The new District 6 realignment brings some unfamiliar faces to Clark Field this year: Petaluma (June 7); Winters (June 17); and Oroville (June 18 and 25) are headed to town. Humboldt comes calling on July 15 — the only home game “on the road” at Woodland High.
Playoffs begin July 22 at Laurel Creek (Fairfield) with state finals starting July 30 in Yountville.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-320-4456.