Aaron Crutchfield/Atascadero News • Atascadero High School graduate Bryce Cherry is tagged out at home plate during Friday’s 4-3 North County Indians win over the Nor Cal Longhorns.
TEMPLETON — Calling the first two weekends of play “a tremendous success,” North County Indians owner and general manager Kevin Haughian said he is encouraged by the size of the crowds showing up to cheer on Templeton’s new semi-professional baseball team.
“We had a great crowd Friday night,” Haughian said. “We appreciate all of the support and enthusiasm.”
Although the Indians lost 7-3 on Sunday, they still have a record of 6-1 after taking three of four from the Nor Cal Longhorns over the weekend.
Friday’s game was a 4-3 win for the Indians, who scored two in the first inning and held off Nor Cal the rest of the way. The Longhorns left what would have been the tying run on third base, but a popup to second ended the game.
“It was an exciting ball game for us,” Indians head coach Dan Marple said.
The Indians arrived in style to their grand opening ceremony before the game Friday evening courtesy of Central Coast Trolley. Ladies in attendance received a red carnation provided by Templeton’s Adelaide Floral. The Templeton High School Band as well as local favorite The Fair Weather Four Barbershop Quartet performed for the crowd. Ceremonial first pitches were thrown out by Templeton Unified School District Board President Dr. Nelson Yamagata, Atascadero Mayor Bob Kelley, and San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Frank Mecham.
The Indians returned the next day with added strength, beating the Longhorns 26-1 in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader. Atascadero High School graduate Bryce Cherry hit two home runs in the rout.
“We swung the bat very well,” Marple said, as he also praised the pitching performance of Cal Poly recruit Casey Bloomquest, who threw five solid innings. “All of the guys played a really good game.”
The win set the team up for a tough nightcap game, Marple said, because a team that scores 26 runs has a tendency to let down a bit after a seven-inning ball game.
“I told the players before the second game that we were going to be in a battle,” Marple said.
That statement held true as the Indians were down 3-0 at the end of the fifth inning. After scratching for a run in the sixth inning, the Indians managed to mount a good comeback, scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh to claim a walkoff 4-3 victory over the Longhorns.
But in Sunday’s game, two home runs from Aaron Ashton, including a two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth inning to send the game into extra innings, weren’t enough as the Longhorns scored three times in the 10th inning for a 7-4 win.
“We are off to a nice start,” Marple said. “I could not be more pleased with the makeup of this club – they hustle, they play hard and they all get along. They have blended well together in just two short weeks. That’s really a tough thing to do in a summer ball club because we have players coming from all over California.”
Haughian agreed, saying he is very impressed with everyone in the lineup and cited three Cal State Northridge players, Ashston, Mike Lovingston and Ryan Raslowsky, as standouts. He also pointed to two of Cal Poly’s top recruits, catcher Brian Mundell and pitcher Bloomquest, as welcome additions to the lineup.
Haughian said Mundell, a catcher from Valencia, was drafted this week in the fifth round by the Dodgers but decided to take a full ride to Cal Poly instead.
“It’s a good blend of local high school, junior college and four-year college ball players,” Haughian said. “The community is going to see some real good baseball, some great on-field promotions, fun songs from the announcers and a few silly things, too. It’s good, affordable family fun.”
Through the first seven games, Raslowsky leads the team with a .474 batting average in 19 at-bats, while Paso Robles’ Jason Brown has a .333 average in six at-bats, Paso’s Brett Wise has a .313 average in 16 at-bats, and Cherry has a .308 average in 26 at-bats in what’s his first game action in more than a year due to the lingering effects of a concussion.
On the mound, Sean Safko is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 11 innings pitched.
The entire family can come out to watch the North County Indians as they host Team San Diego in a four-game series beginning Thursday at 7 p.m. They will play again at 5 p.m. on Friday, followed by a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday. All games are played at the Vineyard Athletic Park, 2121 Vineyard Drive in Templeton.
“Team San Diego is a good ballclub, but we will be here to play and we will play hard,” Marple said, adding he encourages the community to come out and support their local semi-pro team. “With the Indians, you are going to see a team that really hustles, puts the ball in play and plays a good brand of defense.”
For more information, call 769-6162 or visit www.northcountyindians.com.