Prep Baseball: Del Norte High set to take field at Petco Park Saturday; Poway High, Rancho Bernardo to play doubleheaders
By Michael Bower
Both Matt Miller and Anthony Hensley watched the San Diego Padres play at Petco Park this season with a little different thought process than they normally would take to a game.
That’s because all the two Del Norte High seniors could think about is Saturday, when the Nighthawks will take the field at Petco Park against Oceanside in a Valley League game at 10 a.m.
“I am just so pumped up,” Miller said after watching a Padres game last Sunday. “I am here right now and I am just thinking about how I get to play on this field Saturday. It is so surreal.”
Del Norte and Oceanside are part of the annual High School Baseball at Petco Park event put on by the CIF San Diego Section. There will be 12 teams competing in six games over the two-day event, which starts Friday at 1 p.m. with La Jolla versus Point Loma.
“This is a big opportunity for our program,” Hensley said. “This is only our third year with a varsity team so it is really sweet to get the opportunity to go out there and play.”
It will be the first appearance for the Nighthawks in the beautiful downtown stadium. Del Norte coach Rielly Embrey, who hit the first home run at the park while with San Diego State in 2004, is excited for his kids to experience the feeling of competing on a professional baseball field.
“It is a beautiful facility,” he said. “We hope to go out there and have some fun, represent the school well and if we are able to pick up a win, that would be the icing on the cake.”
Players have been going around campus selling tickets to the game in hopes of getting a large fan base to the stadium. Tickets are $15 each and good for all three games Saturday. It also includes a ticket to the Padres-Arizona Diamondbacks game on May 3 at 7:10 p.m. (Parking will be $3 at the ball park).
“A ton of our staff at school and some teachers I have not had seen since freshman year have come up to me and asked about tickets,” Miller said. “It is really cool to have the support of old friends and teachers that I didn’t know was there.”
The Nighthawks (12-5, 4-0 Valley League) have been playing solid baseball as of late. They have won six in a row and find themselves atop the league standings after a three-game sweep of Orange Glen.
Right-handed ace Corey Werneth is the probable starter for Saturday’s game. The senior is 5-1 with a 2.39 ERA. He has struck out 28 batters in 38 innings.
Werneth has had plenty of offensive support this season, as Del Norte has scored 46 runs over his six starts.
Miller is hitting .375 with 11 RBIs, while Hensley is batting .347 for the Nighthawks. Senior Brady Groesbeck leads the team with a .391 average. The trio is part of a group of 11 seniors on Del Norte.
“The seniors have been through so much building the program here and playing tough teams as a small school,” Hensley said. “To be selected to play on this stage is a story-book ending.”
Poway at Westview
The Titans opened Palomar League play with a three-game sweep of Mt. Carmel and entered the week tied atop the standings with Rancho Bernardo.
Poway will play the final two games of its series with Westview on Saturday in a doubleheader at Westview. The first game is at 10:30 a.m. and the second will be at 1:30 p.m.
Poway amassed 36 hits over the three games against the Sundevils, highlighted by sophomore Tyler Nevin’s grand slam — the first home run of his high school career. Justin McSorley also launched his first home run of the season in that series.
Rancho Bernardo at CCA
The Broncos opened Palomar League play with a three-game sweep of Torrey Pines and entered the week tied atop the standings with Poway.
Rancho Bernardo will play the final two games of its series with Canyon Crest on Saturday in a doubleheader at Canyon Crest Academy. The first game is at 10:30 a.m. and the second will be at 1:30 p.m.
Alex Jackson concluded the Falcons’ series by bashing two home runs to bring his season total up to eight. Nikko Holm also had a great series, going 4-for-9 to raise his batting average to .451. Gosuke Katoh is right behind, hitting .444 on the year for the Broncos.
Pitchers Matt Osborne and Parker Bugg continued their solid effort, combining for 14 innings of shutout baseball in two victories.
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