Getting off to a solid start is not new for the Terra Nova High School baseball team, but finishing the job would be. And with a roster with 10 seniors, this group might do something that hasn’t been done since they were freshmen.
“We’ve tasted it and been real close,” Terra Nova coach Joey Gentile said. “The three-year guys are super hungry and we’ve been super close. We’ve started off good each year and we failed at the end and that’s something that’s going to change.”
The Tigers started the 2011 season 5-1-1 before tailing off and missing the Central Coast Section playoffs for the second straight season.
The Tigers brought 13 players back, including the top six of their lineup, but it has been the pitching that has carried them.
“Top six of our lineup are back so I thought we’d have a hitting team, but the bats have been a little slow,” Gentile said. “I’m surprised by the pitching and the hitting hasn’t caught up yet, so I’m waiting to see how that comes along.”
The Tigers have only allowed seven runs in their seven preseason games after finishing Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division play in fifth place at 7-7 last year, only one game away from an automatic bid into CCS, something that has eluded them since 2009.
Part of the struggle last year was the loss of three starters to academic ineligibility, something Gentile hopes changes this year.
“The attitude first of all, I’ve learned to talk about it more and do grade checks, things I didn’t do when I was a rookie head coach,” Gentile said. “Me doing that and trying to scare them and letting them know the atmosphere of a family, if you’re ineligible, you’re hurting the team, not just yourself.”
Senior Bobby Sehgal has only allowed one earned run in his first 28 innings while striking out 19. Senior Nick Manessis, who was on the All-PAL second team last season, has also stepped and is holding down a 2.00 ERA to go along with a team-best .556 batting average.
“They can’t hit him,” Gentile said of Sehgal. “He’s really surprising everybody. He’s doing a great job.”
The Tigers also bring back all-league honorable mention Justin Gubser, who is batting .393 with a team-high 14 RBIs through the first 11 games.
Both Gubser and Manessis have been on the varsity squad since they were sophomores and have seen the team go from a sub-.500 team to the brink of the CCS playoffs.