It wasn’t the senior baseball season Atwater High’s Wyatt Pimentel wanted.
It was quite the opposite, really. The Falcons won just three games all season and went 0-15 in Central California Conference play.
“It was pretty tough, especially after playing the last two years on pretty successful teams,” Pimentel said. “Coming into this year, I knew it was going to be a whole new batch of kids but going 0 and 15 was rough. We had two kids quit and one of our better guys get injured, so it was a combination of things. It took its toll on everyone.”
Still, Pimentel made the most out of the season. He did his best to help the younger players. Despite the team going winless in conference, the CCC coaches still selected him to the all-conference second team at catcher.
On Saturday, he hopes to officially end his season with a win for the North in the seventh annual Merced County All-Star Baseball Game at Merced College. As the only Atwater representative, Pimentel will team with players from Buhach Colony, Hilmar, Livingston, Los Banos, Gustine, Pacheco and Delhi to take on the South, which is composed of all-conference players from El Capitan, Merced, Dos Palos, Golden Valley, Le Grand, Sonora and Mariposa.
The game is scheduled to start at 7:15 p.m.
“I think he was pretty optimistic coming into the season,” said Atwater coach Jarrod Pimentel, who is Wyatt’s cousin. “We knew we were down but I don’t think we knew how down. I think he handled it as positive as he could have been. He tried to help the other guys as much as he could.
“He’s a competitor. He’s won a lot in multiple sports. He was on the other side of it this year. I think he’ll be a better player because of it in the long run. I think he learned a lot about being a good teammate, being positive and being coachable. He learned a little humility.”
The 0-15 record in conference play didn’t sneak up on the Falcons. At a certain point, you realize you need to buckle up and settle in because it’s going to be bumpy ride.
The realization for Wyatt came early in the conference season. If he wasn’t sure after Atwater was pounded in three games by Turlock and outscored 41-1 in the first three games against the Bulldogs, it became clear Atwater was in for a long season the next week when Pitman opened its series against the Falcons with a 10-0 victory.
“After the first Pitman game I knew it was going to rough,” he said. “We usually struggle against Turlock. Then that first Pitman game we got worked. The worst part of this season was the long innings. Those innings where the other team scored eight, nine or 10 runs.”
The focus of Pimentel’s season changed when it became apparent the Falcons weren’t going to contend for league titles or playoff spots.
Pimentel began doing his part to help the younger players so Atwater can have more success in the future.
Adapting is nothing new for Pimentel. As a sophomore he played first base. His junior season he played third base. With a need for a catcher during his senior year, he strapped on the gear and got behind the plate. Pimentel plans to play next year at Merced College and says he’ll play anywhere the coaches ask him to play.
“You really want to have your best players up the middle at catcher, shortstop and center field,” Jarrod Pimentel said. “You want one of your best players behind the plate and that’s why we put him there. He grew as a catcher this year. He was fun to watch back there at the end.”
Pimentel also worked with younger catchers in the program. He became more of a leader, offering input on hitting. He became a bridge between coaches and the younger players.
“Sometimes the way adults put it, it doesn’t translate over to the kids 100 percent,” he said. “I felt I could communicate better with some of the kids. I made it my goal during practice to help the younger kids. We had a lot of juniors and a couple (of) freshmen. I tried to pass on what I know. At the point where we were at this season was going to be more about learning for the younger players.”
Pimentel finished with a .296 batting average, which was second on the team. He also led the team with 12 runs and six doubles.
None of them eye-popping numbers, but he was still named to the all-CCC second team, which earned him a spot in Saturday’s all-star game.
“I kind of took that as a sign of respect from the other coaches,” he said. “I didn’t have a great hitting season. I think I hit (.290), so I think it showed other teams have respect for me as a player and what I can do.”
Pimentel, who has friends all around the conference and area from growing up playing baseball, is looking forward to spending time in the dugout and being around the different players from different teams in Merced County.
“I’m looking forward to that and I want to beat the South,” Pimentel said.
Can you blame him? It’s been a while since he’s been on the winning side.
Merced County All-Star Baseball Game Rosters
Jarrod Willis, Hilmar
Preston Costa, Hilmar
Tyler Amarante, Hilmar
Alex Chavez, Hilmar
Logan Lemas, Buhach Colony
Nick Singer, Buhach Colony
Ubaldo Romo, Buhach Colony
Mike Casso, Buhach Colony
Christian Witt, Buhach Colony
Wyatt Pimentel, Atwater
Blake Jantz, Livingston
Eddie Avila, Livingston
Tyler Wilson, Los Banos
James Bostick, Los Banos
Kevin Spencer, Los Banos
Trent Mallonee, Los Banos
Kody Cardoza, Los Banos
Brandon LaBry, Gustine
Oliver Perez, Gustine
Kevin Medeiros, Gustine
Diego Reynoso, Pacheco
Aiden Rocha, Delhi
Coach – Pat Fuentes, Los Banos
Tyler Skelton, El Capitan
Braiden Ward, El Capitan
Sammy Mora, El Capitan
Sai Davuluri, El Capitan
Chase Whitaker, El Capitan
Jacob Pilkington, El Capitan
Carlos Lara, Dos Palos
Gabriel Galindo, Dos Palos
Ozzie Suarez, Dos Palos
Rolando Flores, Dos Palos
Nathaan Flores, Dos Palos
Jacob Alarcon, Merced
Trevor Phillips, Merced
Tanner Pellissier, Merced
Josh May, Merced
Caleb Lopez, Golden Valley
Beto Marquez, Le Grand
Mauricio Reyes, Le Grand
Johnny Gillespie, Sonora
Joe Montelongo, Sonora
Morgan Hughes, Mariposa
Jake Williams, Mariposa
Joseph Freitas, Mariposa
Coach – Joel Salcido, Le Grand