The Yuba College 49ers Men’s Baseball team has already begun practicing for the upcoming regular season in the spring. But the big story is that the 49ers, having posted an overall record of 19-17 last year, and missing the Bay Valley Conference playoffs, has made a managerial change. New head coach Ryan Evanghelo has taken the position, coming over from Sierra College in Rocklin, where his teams won 34 games last season and made the playoffs ten straight years. Evanghelo brings with him a staff of assistant coaches, including pitching coach, John Bonifacini who should help a staff that posted a good overall earned run average (ERA) in 2012, but lacked depth. Evangehlo says, “We shall play a brand of small ball this year, focusing on moving runners and getting on base, relying on strong defense and good pitching to get the job done.” His calm demeanor exudes an air of confidence and his experience should go a long way towards delivering a winning program here at Yuba College and getting to the playoffs for the first time in 25 years. Evanghelo said, “We are ready to bring a winning program to Yuba College.”
Veteran player Dallas Cummings will be the anchor of a solid infield defense at second base with Michael Beak playing shortstop when he is not pitching. As a 25-year-old sophomore, Cummings brings knowledge and experience to the table along with a winning attitude. He is a personable, well-spoken man with a great attitude who should be an excellent mentor for the young freshman players.
I spoke with Cummings, who also played for the Marysville Gold Sox this past summer, about the team. He had this to say: “I am serious about school and baseball. Everything I do off the field is going to prepare me for what I do. The student aspect is the most important part of being an athlete.” Cummings carries a 3.2 grade point average and is on the fast track to graduate as a transfer student to a four-year university from Yuba College in 2014. Reno, Nevada, he said, would be his first choice of Division II colleges to further his academic achievement and continue his college baseball career.
On the subject of team unity Cummings said, “Keeping everyone one on the same page makes it easier to achieve the same goal.” He is very pleased at the prospects of playing for Coach Evanghelo and his talent should be greatly appreciated in this new system.
The 49ers will have a very strong pitching staff with four solid starters. Pitchers Ryan Pope, a sophomore from Yuba City High School, and Michael Frantz will be relied upon heavily to provide quality innings on the mound. Also on the hill will be Michael Beak, the number three starter, and lefty Tyler Larson, who will both start and relieve for a Yuba College rotation which be formidable.
Pope, having recorded 67 innings with an ERA of 2.28 of as a freshman last year with the 49ers, features a strong fastball with good location. As the dominant starter this year, Pope should see a lot of duty in Evanghelo’s rotation. Having thrown four complete games in five wins last year, including a four-hit shutout, he should be even stronger in his sophomore season. Michael Frantz won five games while pitching 97 innings for the 49ers last year, striking out 54 batters, with an ERA of 2.33. With Pope and Frantz returning as the top two starters the pitching has a chance to be dominant in 2013-14 for the new head coach.
Talking with pitcher Ryan Pope during practice, I was once again impressed by his baseball demeanor. Pope pitched over 30 innings for the semi-pro Gold Sox this past summer and played with Cummings. Pope’s mental focus seemed tougher as he prepared to warmup for the first intrasquad game at Yuba College field. He looks to be in great shape to carry the load this season for the 49ers and should contribute more innings pitched for Coach Evangelho. Considering his his potential, with more starts, Pope expects “to win more games, post an even lower ERA and finish the games I start this year.” Off season conditioning has Pope prepared and it would be no surprise if he was to meet or exceed those goals.
Last year the 49ers had some power hitters in the third and fourth spots in their batting order. As it is still early, practice has just begun for the spring and fall seasons, it remains to be seen who will provide the pop in the middle of the lineup. If any power hitting is found among the new freshman players, returnees, or transfers, it will be a complement to the run production in 2013-14. The return to small ball should produce more stolen bases, put more emphasis on moving runners and increase run production anyway; manufacturing runs is an excellent way to create offense for a team that will feature strong pitching and defense.
Fans should look forward to a very interesting team. As a fan when I go to the park, I look for the nuances of the game. It’s nice to see a home run now and then, but it’s much more interesting to watch the fundamental aspects of pitching and defense. More can be learned by fans both young and old about the game of baseball by watching this brand of sport. Please come out to Gold Sox stadium and support your 49ers!