Catching their first games

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[media-credit name=”Mary York/Staff” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]

Freshman Carlos Ochoa catches for pitcher Kiki Medina in Thursday's game against San Diego City College.

Coach Jerry Bartow’s preseason jitters about his pitching staff went away following two brilliantly-pitched victories to start league play. Conference play opened with a 9-2 victory over San Diego Mesa College followed by a 1-0 win against San Diego City College. Sophomore pitcher Justin Kruse, who was unable to play during preseason due to an injury, said good pitchers need good catchers.

“Pitchers and catchers are pretty much controlling the game,” said Kruse. “It affects the style of the game. Every pitcher is different and every catcher is different.”

The men on the mound work closely with the Jags behind the plate to make sure they are both on target.

“We have our bullpen (throwing sessions) and we’ll start there and he’ll tell me how I’m doing,” said pitcher Kiki Medina. “If you don’t have a good catcher that you can trust, then you won’t be on the same page.”

Medina said he requested that Carlos Ochoa catch for him on Thursday. It was a good decision. Besides leading the pitchers, catchers have one of the more strenuous positions in baseball.

Cody Sos said the physical strain makes being a catcher difficult.

“The everyday squatting is the biggest thing,” said Sos. “You’ve got to take care of your body because if you don’t, your knees will go out.”

Ochoa and Sos also keep the Jags in the outfield awake and alert by shouting the number of outs when each new batter comes to the plate.

“If there’s a long inning with no outs, sometimes they forget, I don’t know why,” said Sos, with a smile on his face. “But you’ve got to remind them so they keep their head in the game.”

Ochoa, who shows a lot of charisma when communicating with his teammates in the outfield, agreed.

 “I like doing it more when there’s two strikes,” he said. “It keeps ‘em in the game.”

In the game is just where they will stay if they can keep up their pace. Bartow said the pitching has finally come around after a rocky preseason finish and the staff is ready for conference play.

“With the Kruse in there, that makes three or four really good pitchers,” he said of his pitching rotation.

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