After clinching the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division crown on Wednesday, the El Camino High School baseball team has picked up momentum and is extremely confident going into the Central Coast Section playoffs this week.
“[We] came in a little anxious,” El Camino coach Carlos Roman said of his team about his team’s approach to the CCS Division II playoffs last year. “The most important thing [this year] is to be relaxed.”
Individual players have stepped up in big ways for the Colts.
Justin Eclavea threw a complete-game shutout against Terra Nova on Wednesday, his second of the season and first since April 13 against Burlingame.
Steven Knudson has been a catalyst at the plate and on the mound.
Entering Thursday, the senior has a team-best 2.86 ERA, despite walking 22 batters.
Knudson is also hitting .500 with four home runs and 26 RBIs, but entering the regular-season finale he only had a multi-hit game once since April 13.
Senior catcher Trevor Kelly has been the perfect complement to Knudson.
“He’s done the best job of protecting [Knudson],” Roman said. “I’m sure Knudson is buying Trevor a going-away gift for the job [he’s done].”
Kelly is second on the team in batting average, home runs and RBIs, all behind Knudson. He is hitting .442 with two home runs and 22 RBIs entering the playoffs.
Having Knudson and Kelly in the middle of the lineup makes the Colts a “very formidable” opponent.
As they crept closer to the league title, the Colts started to become more vocal. This was never more evident than in their win at Aragon last week.
“We’re not normally a vocal club, but that day they were very vocal,” Roman said. “It got us ready to go; that whole bench was on fire.”
That energy has turned into results on the field. Tyler Rios has been a consistent presence for El Camino.
He laid down a crafty bunt in between the pitcher and shortstop that scored a runner from third to extend El Camino’s lead against Terra Nova on Wednesday.
“He has the occasional ability to get into one,” Roman said of Rios. “We’d rather him stay within himself and utilize his speed.”
They also have started to get contributions from other sources.
Emiliano Rios, who was called up from junior varsity last week, hit a grand slam as part of a 10-run inning in El Camino’s rout of Terra Nova on Wednesday.
“We’ve had a pretty set lineup for the most part of the year,” Roman said. “It’s clear what we have to do to win.”
The first round of the CCS playoffs begin this week.