The Merced Volunteers know they will have to play well to pick up some wins at this week’s Western Amateur Baseball Federation Championships in Fairfield.
The Volunteers (13-9) could face one of these teams this summer at the American Legion State Tournament.
The 10-team WABF Championships began Tuesday with the Volunteers playing a doubleheader at Laurel Creek Park. Merced, made up of players from Merced, Buhach Colony, Livingston, Chowchilla and Dos Palos high schools, opened against the Santa Rosa Rebels, then faced Yolo Post 77.
“This tournament has always been very competitive,” Merced coach Rollo Adams said. “We will see three or four teams that could end up at the state tournament. In the past, those teams have kept an eye on us, too, because they know they will have to contend with us. This will be a good test for us.”
The field includes the Chico Nuts, who defeated Merced 3-2 last summer to repeat as state champions.
Chico is in the Blue Division with the host Fairfield Expos, San Jose Giants, Humboldt Eagles and Napa Riverdogs. Merced is in the Red Division with Yolo, Santa Rosa, the Fresno A’s and Petaluma Leghorns.
The Volunteers play another doubleheader Friday, facing the Leghorns at 11 a.m. and the A’s at 2 p.m.
The Volunteers recently went 4-3 in the Joyce Stoker Tournament in Las Vegas.
“We played five games in seven days,” Adams said. “We didn’t play well in two of the games. The other five games we persevered. We didn’t walk a lot of hitters in Las Vegas. I hope we can carry that with us.”
Merced High’s Tanner Pellissier and Clayton Hall and Merced College outfielder Lawrence Anderson have led the offense.
“Lawrence has been swinging the bat well, stealing some bases and playing excellent defense in the outfield,” Adams said. “Tanner Pellissier has also been hitting the ball well for us. Clayton Hall has been driving in key runs for us when guys get to third base.”
The Volunteers also have been getting solid pitching from Chowchilla’s Austin Hickman and Livingston’s Josh Penrod.
Adams planned to throw former Meced High ace and current UC Irvine pitcher Mitchell Miller and Livingston’s Blake Jantz in Tuesday’s games.
“The main thing I want to see from our guys this week is energy,” Adams said. “I also want to see some anticipation. They need to know where they need to be on the field. I think if we can play good defense and pitch well, we’ll be fine. We’re going to have to find a way to manufacture runs.”
The Volunteers will return to Las Vegas for the Danny Hughes Tournament from July 7-10. They also will travel to Stockton for a best-of-three series July 23-24 against the Stockton Mets for the Area 3 championship and a berth in the state tournament.