The Carlmont High School baseball team is off to a strong 5-1 start this spring entering Wednesday, looking to finally claim the Peninsula Athletic League title for themselves after back-to-back seasons finishing in second.
But despite outscoring their first six opponents by a 5-1 margin, and opening PAL Bay Division play with a 12-2 rout over El Camino last week, Scots coach Rich Vallero is not satisfied.
“There’s always work to do,” Vallero said. “I like to give the kids praise, but I also want to keep the hunger in them too.”
Vallero has instilled a hard work ethic into his team, wanting them to go beyond not looking ahead to the next game. Rather, Vallero wants each player not to get caught looking ahead to the next inning.
“Stay in the game, inning by inning and pitch by pitch,” Vallero said. “And don’t focus on the big picture of the overall season.”
Carlmont’s deep pitching staff has bought into that philosophy and has been dominating in the early going. Led by senior southpaw Daniel Madigan and fellow senior Bradley Levine, the Scots have the luxury of a 1-2 punch that can both lay claim to staff ace status. Through 18 combined innings Levine has given up just one earned run and Madigan has yet to yield an earned run.
“Our pitching staff is fantastic,” Vallero said. “We have a bunch of guys that can get it done for us.”
Including the Scots’ No. 3 pitcher, junior Nic Bongi, who is 3-0 and has pitched 13 scoreless innings in his 14 innings of work so far.
“He’d be an ace on most other teams,” Vallero said.
Making the Scots even more dangerous is their offense that supports their pitching staff. Freshman utility player Kyle Barret is already making his presence felt with five RBIs and a .333 batting average.
“He is going to be a great hitter by the time he is done,” Vallero said.
The big bat in Carlmont’s lineup is senior catcher Colton Hicks, who batted .450 and led the PAL in home runs last year. Hicks’ work behind the plate, handling the staff and throwing out runners, has also drawn Vallero’s praise.
“He’s a hard worker,” Vallero said. “He’s reliable and he gets everything out of our staff.”
Now that league play has started, Vallero does not see a clear path to the title, even though he fully expects his team to be battling for one by early May.
“I respect every team in our league,” Vallero said. “We had a five-way race for the league title last year at the end. I honestly see the same thing happening again this year.”