Todd Buchner has been coaching baseball in Merced County for 22 years. Buchner has coached with guys like Lou Souza, Scott Winton, Keith Petiti, Aaron Ruiz and Aaron Martinez.
So when Merced High needed to find someone to take over the baseball program, it didn’t take long for Bears athletic director Paul Hogue to zero in on Buchner.
“I was looking for someone long term to fill our baseball position,” Hogue said. “Someone who I know would care about the program and be here for a while.”
Buchner, 47, takes over for Tynan Pedretti, who coached the Bears for two seasons.
“It’s a chance to come back where I went to school,” Buchner said. “I got to be the head coach at Merced in 2008. This is kind of an opportunity to fulfill those plans I had back then. The biggest thing is it’s my alma mater, I still have a lot of friends there. I think every coach wants that chance to turn around a program.”
Buchner graduated from Merced High in 1990. After graduating from Fresno State, he returned as an assistant coach for Souza in 1996. He served one year as coach in 2008 before moving to Planada.
Buchner served as an assistant for Martinez in Le Grand for six years and then spent the past four years helping Ruiz out at El Capitan.
“I was barely in my second year when Todd came to Le Grand,” Martinez said. “What he did was give me a tutorial on how to run a program. I was just getting my feet wet. He showed the kids how a program should be run with the team coming first.
“He really helped me establish the program and we had a lot of success. We made the playoffs eight of the nine years and a lot of that was due to what Todd brought to the program.”
Buchner says he’s picked up things from all his coaching stops.
“I think I’ve got a little from everyone,” he said. “Coach Souza instituted a lot of the good, positive attitude. Anybody who has been in the program with him has learned a lot. When I was at El Cap, Aaron Ruiz is still using a lot of the things coach Souza used. I’ve also picked up things from Aaron Martinez and Scott Winton.”
Merced High didn’t have a special education teaching position open so Buchner will still be teaching at El Capitan this year and making the drive to Merced High during the athletics period in the afternoon.
“I’m very excited,” Buchner said. “There’s a lot of good kids. I’ve been out there since school started and they’ve been receptive to the little changes I’ve put in. I want us to be good at the boring stuff.
“I want pitchers to be able to command the strike zone. I want us to make the routine plays. I want us to play for all 21 outs on offense and defense. Other teams are going to have to show up and play a good game because we aren’t going to beat ourselves.”