Things were looking good for the El Capitan High School baseball team.
Aaron Ruiz’s squad knew it had potential entering its first varsity season, and the Gauchos did their best to realize it by fighting through a grueling Western Athletic Conference schedule. He couldn’t have hoped for more as El Capitan sat in playoff position with a chance to win a league title entering the final week of the regular season.
Junior pitcher Tyler Skelton was at the forefront of that success. The right-hander led the Gauchos with a 6-1 record, a team-high 502/3 innings pitched and 43 strikeouts while posting a 2.07 ERA. Skelton was productive on offense as well, hitting .319 with 19 runs and 11 RBIs.
Unfortunately for Skelton and company, the final week of the season didn’t go as hoped. Ceres swept El Cap to secure the WAC crown and, coupled with Los Banos’ sweep of Central Valley, dropped the Gauchos into a third-place tie and outside the playoffs looking in after the tiebreaker. Skelton had to settle for earning the school’s inaugural first-team WAC baseball nod.
Skelton was one of two local players named to the first team as Ceres and Patterson dominated the list. The Bulldogs swept the major awards with Brad Bussard named the league MVP, Drew Stahl the Pitcher of the Year and John Bussard the Coach of the Year.
“Missing out on the playoffs was heartbreaking, but I think we learned a lot about what we need to work on,” Skelton said. “We didn’t have a leader who was ready to step up when things went bad, and it led to our downfall. Still, nobody had swept us all season. (Ceres) came in and played well. You have to tip your cap to them. I think this year was about building a foundation, and hopefully, we’ll be battling for titles for years to come.”
Livingston’s Eddie Avila joined Skelton on the first team. The junior hit .347 with 18 runs and eight RBIs. He was particularly sharp in WAC play, hitting safely in eight of 10 games.
The WAC second team was filled with locals.
Los Banos had four representatives in Chris Corral, Tyler Wilson, Josh Gould and Kevin Spencer.
Livingston (CJ Avila and Cole Brown) and El Capitan (Braiden Ward and Sammy Mora) each had two players on the second team, and Tristen Trevino was Pacheco’s representative.
Sean Lynch: (209) 385-2476