Whether it was merely a motivational tool, Fresno City College baseball coach Ron Scott made it known he had seen enough.
A day after the Rams opened Central Valley Conference play with an 8-1 loss to Reedley, Scott gathered his team and asked a pointed question.
“I said, ‘Hey, what are we? Are we afraid to be good or are we not good?’ ” Scott recalled. “ ‘Let’s figure out what we are.’ We had a goal to win every game up to Easter.”
Fresno City responded, winning the next eight conference games en route to its second consecutive CVC title, a 26-10 regular-season record and the sixth seed in the Northern Regional. This weekend, the Rams will host No. 11 San Mateo (23-13) in a best-of-three series at John Euless Ballpark. The opener is Friday at 3 p.m., with two games, as needed, Saturday.
That was the goal we set that we weren’t sure if it was realistic at the time.
Fresno City coach Ron Scott on challenging his team to launch an extended winning streak after a CVC-opening loss
The winning streak “was the goal we set that we weren’t sure if it was realistic at the time,” Scott said. “The guys really bought into it. We won every game going into Easter, and we beat Cerritos (10-4), who’s good. It’s a really close group of guys, and we’re having as much fun as coaches this year as we did last year.”
The 2015 team advanced to the state final four. This year, the Rams opened 2-5, bounced back to win two at Hartnell, then suffered the blowout at Reedley. Chances of a CVC title repeat, much less a deep playoff run, didn’t look promising. Youth, though, was an excuse.
Fresno City has five players who played extensively last season, including pitcher JJ Santa Cruz (6-3, 3.02 ERA). But the rest of the roster consists of freshmen.
“It’s tough to get a young team to jell together with few sophomores,” Santa Cruz said. “We just had to find that chemistry … and us sophomores had to lead the way.”
Second-year players Logan Poisall (infielder), Conly Biglione (outfielder), Justin Heskett (pitcher) and Tucker Salles (catcher) did their part in the Rams’ resurgence.
Poisall (.329, five home runs, 31 RBIs) was voted conference co-MVP. Heskett was co-Pitcher of the Year after going 7-0 with three saves. Michael Beltran (.330, 24 RBIs) was among the newcomers who stepped up.
“We love to win,” Heskett said. “We started winning, and (the freshmen) started to understand what we’re about. They caught on.”
Community college baseball: NorCal Regionals
- Tuesday’s wild-card games: No. 16 Reedley 3, No. 17 Feather River 1; No. 15 Marin 8, No. 18 Cañada 3
- Friday: No. 11 San Mateo (23-13) at No. 6 Fresno City (26-10), 3 p.m.; No. 16 Reedley (25-12) at No. 2 Santa Rosa (29-6); No. 9 San Joaquin Delta (25-11) at No. 8 Butte (29-7); No. 12 Los Medanos (24-12) at No. 5 Mission (26-10); No. 13 De Anza (21-15) at No. 4 Cabrillo (25-11); No. 14 Folsom Lake (23-13) at No. 3 Sacramento City (27-9); No. 10 Chabot (23-13) at No. 7 Laney (26-10); No. 15 Marin (24-13) at No. 2 Cosumnes River (28-8)
- Saturday (third games, if needed, to follow): No. 11 San Mateo at No. 6 Fresno City, 1 p.m.; No. 1 Santa Rosa vs. Reedley; No. 9 San Joaquin Delta at No. 8 Butte; No. 12 Los Medanos at No. 5 Mission; No. 13 De Anza at No. 4 Cabrillo; No. 14 Folsom Lake at No. 3 Sacramento City; No. 10 Chabot at No. 7 Laney; No. 2 Cosumnes River vs. Marin
- Tickets: $8 students, faculty, children, seniors; $12 adults