AURORA — Graduating just one top arm from a strong pitching staff can be a challenge for a high school baseball club to overcome.
After last year's spring season, the Legacy baseball team graduated its entire pitching staff that included five seniors who helped the Lightning win 16 out of 21 games. So rather than having one big hole to fill going into the 2019 season, the Lightning boys found themselves looking at a completely blank slate.
Through six games, the Lightning has been piecing together the building blocks of a varsity pitching staff to mixed results. But even though the team has a 1-5 record and lost 5-0 to Class 5A No. 3-ranked Regis Jesuit (6-1) on Tuesday, the Lightning dugout remains energized by the prospect of building something from scratch.
"We have a lot of young pitchers and it's still coming together," Legacy senior catcher Blake Labuda said. "But I do feel like it's coming together. We still have some work to do but we've battled a lot of adversity already this season so I feel like it's only going to go up from here. We're just trying to get in good counts and make good pitches at the right time, and we're a little different team than we've been in the past so we're just trying to compete every day and finish strong."
Though they obviously weren't thrilled at losing their fifth game in six tries, the Lightning weren't overly disappointed at holding a quality team like Regis Jesuit to five runs. They sent three juniors and a sophomore to the mound, none of whom recorded a single inning in 2018.
Starting on the bump, junior Joshua Maestas was charged with just two hits and one unearned run over two innings. Sophomore Cole Walker was hit with three runs in his two innings. Junior Henry Kisselman gave up one run in one inning. Tyler Lyons, also a junior, pitched around a pair of hits and a walk to post a scoreless sixth inning.
With no single pitcher emerging as a de facto ace or number one arm, Tuesday's full-staff approach was indicative of how the Lightning has attacked opposing lineups all season. Despite the Lightning allowing an average of 6.8 runs per game, Legacy head coach Ty Giordano said he has been pleased by his young staff's improvement already in just six games.
"I think we're right there," Giordano said. "I thought pitching-wise, we faced an outstanding baseball team that can really swing the bats and for us to hold them to five runs is a pretty good showing. We just didn't hit enough and when we did, we didn't do it with guys on base.
"Our pitching staff is a work in progress. The guys are trying to compete and trying to work hard. They're getting used to the speed of the game and the hitters at this level, because there's a big difference between junior varsity and varsity hitters. It's a baptism by fire but I'm proud of them because they're getting better every day."
Labuda, who boasts a robust .429 batting average in 18 plate appearances this spring, had two of Legacy's three hits on Tuesday. He finished the game 2-for-3 at the plate with a pair of doubles, including a two-bagger against Notre Dame-bound starter Brent DiBiase to lead off the fourth inning.
"I just came out here trying to battle and trying to do everything I could to help my team today," Labuda said. "I felt really good at the plate today. I was just trying to find something to drive and I had a couple pretty good swings and got a couple pitches elevated. I haven't seen many lefties like that so I was happy to have a good game today."
The Lightning will be back in action against Pomona (1-7) on Thursday.
Regis Jesuit 5, Legacy 0
At Regis Jesuit H.S.
Legacy 000 000 0 — 0 3 2
Regis Jesuit 103 010 0 — 5 8 0
W — Dibiase. L — Maestas.
Legacy hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Esplin 3-0-0-0, Sehr 3-0-0-0, Labuda 3-0-2-0, Grierson 3-0-0-0, Lyons 3-0-0-0, Maestas 2-0-0-0, Claridge 2-0-1-0, Mari 1-0-0-0, Walker 1-0-0-0, Jaeger 1-0-0-0, Garcia 2-0-0-0, Anderson 0-0-0-0, Kisselman 0-0-0-0. Totals 24-0-3-0. 2B —Labuda 2, Claridge.
Regis Jesuit hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Padilla 3-0-0-0, Macias 4-1-2-0, Wagner 3-2-2-1, O'Donnell 1-2-1-0, Perchiazzi 3-0-0-0, Best 1-0-0-0, Doubet 3-0-3-2, Stoughton 2-0-0-0, Cushenbery 1-0-0-0, Thompson 2-0-0-0, Parson 0-0-0-0, Dibiase 0-0-0-0, Willis 0-0-0-0, Dinges 0-0-0-0. Totals 23-5-8-3. 2B — O'Donnell. 3B — Macias. SB — O'Donnell 2.
Legacy pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Maestas 2-2-1-0-2-1, Walker 2-3-3-3-3-1, Kisselman 1-1-1-1-0-1, Lyons 1-2-0-0-1-0.
Regis Jesuit pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Dibiase 4-1-0-0-1-6, Willis 2-1-0-0-0-2, Dinges 1-1-0-0-0-0.