FREDERICK — Frederick baseball coach Blaine Shirley knows the process to rebuild the Warriors program into a steady winner will take some time and hard work. His team will look to improve on the fundamentals, their baseball IQ and more during his fourth season with the program.
Along the way, he expects his young team to go through some bumps, like Friday's 18-2 loss in five innings to the Northridge Grizzlies on their home field.
The loss shines light on the areas of focus his team needs to work on as they push forward into the young season.
"We have to see more discipline," Shirley said. "We have to have our baseball knowledge to be better. Right now, we're not disciplined and we make too many minor mistakes that we have to eliminate to stay in the game."
Friday saw the early theme of the season continue for Frederick. The team showed they could play competitively for a brief stretch in the game, but mistakes in the field opened up a big lead for their opponents that were too much to overcome.
The game-changing moment Friday came with Frederick to bat in the bottom of the second and Northridge answering in the top of the third. Frederick, tied 1-1 going into their second inning, got the bases loaded with nobody out and had a shot at a big offensive inning. Instead, the Warriors scored only one run — a bases-loaded walk issued by Northridge pitcher Gonzalo Rodriquez.
"The baseball gods are not shining on us right now," Shirley said. "We have hit the ball solid, but it seems to be right at people. We can't buy that two-out hit we need to push those runs across."
Northridge answered in the next half inning with three straight hits that tied the game. The offense flourished with five hits that scored four runs to give them a 5-2 lead. Rodriguez retired the Frederick lineup in the bottom of the third, allowing the offense to get back to the plate to score six more runs in the fourth.
The damage in the fourth inning was done by three hits and three walks, but they were magnified by a costly error and some wild pitches that helped score unearned runs for the Warriors, another problem Frederick is dealing with in the early season.
"We're not thinking about that play ahead to see where we need to be when the ball is hit to us and what we need to do," Shirley said. "That's where we are getting hurt. We are making routine plays look tougher than they are."
Seven runs in the fifth put Northridge in a position to end the game early, which they did with Rodriguez pitching a third straight shutout inning in the bottom of the fifth.
It has not been the ideal start for Shirley's team as they work their way up from a 3-16 season last year. They are 0-3 and have been outscored 35-2 through three games.
Despite the tough start, Shirley does see some bright spots for his team, particularly with his pitching staff.
"We started a sophomore (Jonah Josh) to pitch, and then we put a freshman (Bryce Conover) to pitch and a junior (Ryan Srong) to pitch," Shirley said. "We have some guys capable of taking this team to the next level. It's just a matter of finding that key that fits in everyone where everything is going to work out."
The next chance to find the right combination for Shirley is Saturday when his team will face the Berthoud Spartans for their second Tri-Valley League game of the season. Berthoud defeated Frederick 8-2 on Thursday.
Northridge 18, Frederick 2
At Frederick High School
NORTHRIDGE (4-2) 014 67 — 18 16 0
FREDERICK (0-3) 110 00 — 2 3 2
W — Northridge Gonzalo Rodriguez. L — Frederick Jonah Josh.
Northridge hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Caston Reid 5-0-1-2, Hayden Rose 5-2-2-2, Joe Lombardelli 5-2-3-1, Izaiah Shepherd 5-3-3-2, Cruz Arrellano 5-3-1-0, Louie Ramirez 4-3-3-1, Ryan Kelley 4-2-2-3, Nick Garland 4-2-0-0, Blake Meyer 4-1-1-2. 2B —Rose, Lombardelli. 3B — none. HR —none. SB —Arrellano, Shepherd, Kelley.
Frederick hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Trevor Hazlett 3-1-1-0, Cole Hoffman 3-0-1-0, Tyler Sagura 3-0-0-0, Hunter Wallace 2-0-0-0, Ryan Bacca 2-1-1-0, Brayden Weingardt 2-0-0-0, Jonah Josh 2-0-0-0, Jonah Sanders 2-0-0-0. 2B — Bacca. 3B —Hazlett. HR —none. SB —Hazlett, Hoffman, Ryan Strong.
Northridge pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Gonzalo Rodriguez 5-2-2-2-4-6.
Frederick pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Jonah Josh 3.1-7-6-5-3-4, Bryce Conover 2-5-11-7-4-0, Ryan Strong .2-2-0-0-0-1.