The Agoura High baseball team heads off to Corona for a second round CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoff game Tuesday afternoon. And at 23-4-1, the Chargers will continue to rely not just on timely situational hitting and smart overall play, but on a relatively unheralded pitching staff.
“From my perspective as a pitching coach, what I like about these guys is that they’re willing to do the work,” said Larry Reynolds. “They will make adjustments on the fly. The process that we work through is that I let them know that the mechanics are theirs and they need to own them.”
Reynolds said he doesn’t try to get each pitcher to do the same thing and look the same way.
“I try to tailor it to each guy,” he said. “I don’t use a cookie-cutter approach. I try to adjust to where they're at. And what I’m trying to get them to use is not only their physical but also their mental abilities.”
Jordan Shulman, who pitched a complete game in Agoura’s 6-1 first round playoff win over Brea Olinda, is 6-2 with a 1.80 earned run average. Henry Baker is 5-0 with a 2.15 ERA. Andy Sondreaal is 5-1 with a 2.77 ERA. Mark Seyler is 4-1. Batters are hitting just .190 against him.
“I usually go into a season with no preconceived expectations, but there are high expectations,” said Reynolds. “I expect my guys to do the work, to hit their spots and we see what happens. And I always tell them, ‘Control the things you can control, the rest leave alone.’ And these guys do a good job of that.”
Tyler Cohen has been a force in relief for the Chargers. His ERA is 0.79 and he has eight saves while opposing batters hit an almost unfathomable .102 against him. He also has 30 strikeouts in 17 and 2/3 innings of work.
But there have been other hands on deck as well. For instance, Nick Shur, though only having worked 13 and 1/3 innings in seven appearances, has an ERA of 1.05 and has held opponents to a .130 batting average.
Reynolds ability to prepare the Agoura’s pitchers for their roles seems to have worked perfectly.
“Pitching is about a relationship,” Reynolds said. “Because they’re out there all by themselves I let them know, even though you’re out there in the center [and] all eyes are focused on you with each pitch, you’ve still got the other guys behind you and you trust them and let them do their job and you do yours.”
In the win over Brea Olinda last Friday at home, along with big hits by Justin Cana and Drew Lutzke, a great sign was that Shulman won without having his best stuff, said Agoura head coach Mike Cordero.
“That’s when you know you’re a good baseball team and you’re a pretty good pitcher, when you know how to win when you don’t have your best stuff,” Cordero said. “And I think this year Jordan’s really learned how to win baseball games.”
And though Shulman wasn’t getting hit hard, he did give up six hits the first three innings against Brea Olinda and none in innings four through six.
“The good thing about Jordan is he gets better the further along he goes,” Reynolds said. “I think he probably was 3-1 as far as ground balls to fly ball, which is just what we want. We want that ratio where it’s more ground balls than fly balls.”
Reynolds was asked if he’s enjoyed his first year as an assistant coach of the Chargers. He pulled off his baseball cap to show the inside.
“It’s been a great journey, absolutely,” he said. “In fact I write in my hat, ‘Praise the effort not the outcome.’ That’s what I’m looking for. Give me a good effort and what happens, happens.”