While hitting remained a team question mark from the beginning, Nunez had high hopes for the Pointer pitching staff. And why not? Few — if any — county schools have a guy like major league all-star and PLHS alum David Wells to coach them. The future shone brightly.
A cast of strong arms that promised to carry the team through many innings and games was ready, but for reasons that are as disparate as could be imagined, there has been missed time ranging from several games to large chunks of the season.
Suspensions of pitchers and other players accounted for some of those missed games. The transgressions included team matters, school and home issues.
“People have to remember that we’re teaching kids to be responsible adults, and that’s a lot more important than baseball,” said Nunez. “We teach our players to be responsible for their actions, to have integrity and good work ethics. When they apply these on and off the baseball field, the wins are going to come.”
With only junior Josh Azar and senior Jackson Leslie to take the mound at times, Nunez turned to his junior varsity team.
He brought up several sophomores who proved to be valuable additions to the pitching staff, including James Klueber, Joe Da Luz, Jordan Goulet and Joaquin Avalos. Freshman varsity starting first baseman Jayson Pappas also joined the mound crew when needed.
Each call-up has, to their credit, performed admirably against some tough Western League and non-league varsities, according to Nunez.
But the results remain frustrating. Last Friday, for example, the Pointers led Madison by a 4-2 margin after three innings but gave up four runs in the fourth, leading to a 7-4 setback — the ninth consecutive PLHS defeat.
The Pointers’ record (1-6 in league, 5-19 overall) dropped them to sixth place in the seven-team Western League — ahead of only winless Coronado.
“It's been tough this year,” Nunez said, “because sometimes with games on the line, our best players aren’t out there. But if we don’t hold our kids accountable now for things, we’re not doing our jobs.”
Some games were close. Five Pointer losses were by one run, three by two runs, and the team took Mira Mesa and Patrick Henry to extra innings before defeat.
As losses mounted, “the frustration has mounted for everyone,” Nunez said, "including all of the coaches, the parents, the players. We (the coaches) meet every week to figure out why we’re losing, and there's really no right answer.”
But spirits remain high in the Pointer dugout.
“The season so far has not gone the way we wanted it to,” said senior third baseman Brandon Keenan. “We have a young team and hopefully we can come out strong in our last few games.”
Keenan is one of only five seniors whose prep careers will likely conclude May 16 at around 5 p.m. on the Coronado Islanders baseball field along the Silver Strand.
“I am enjoying the season because it’s baseball. It’s about having fun,” Keenan said. “It’s my senior year and I want to have some good memories to look back on.”
• Nunez said he has heard from people who advocate a “win now” philosophy.
• With a young varsity team and a junior varsity that has built a record of 13-4 — despite the loss of some pitchers — Nunez sees a bright future for Pointer baseball.