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BASEBALL: Norwalk’s new image paying off as Lancers continue hot start to season

March 15, 2022

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

When you graduate only two impact players from last season and are building your program around several juniors who are in their third season on varsity, there isn’t much difference from 2021 to 2022. Norwalk High head coach William Wenrick believes that, and it has worked so far as the Lancers are off to the program’s best start in over two decades.

Norwalk doubled up Garden Grove High 4-2 last Thursday to improve to 9-2 at the time. It’s the program’s best 11-game start since going 8-3 in 2009. Norwalk has also started 7-4 in 2005 and in 2018 and is on the verge of the program’s first double digit win season since going 10-13 in 2018. In addition, from 2019-2021, the Lancers went 13-29 and are looking good to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

Wenrick added that the team isn’t working harder or doing anything special from last season other than working off the tee in the batting cage. Plus, the program is finally feeling at home with its new digs for the first time since pre-pandemic.

“I was feeling pretty good going in just because I had so many sophomores last year,” said Wenrick. “We’re still not hitting the ball where, or how, I would like us to hit the ball. But we’re not beating ourselves, and my teams notoriously would always have that one inning where we just couldn’t hold it together. I knew with this team we were going to be able to.”

If that wasn’t good enough, the Lancers are sporting new pinstripe uniforms with “Lancers” in script lettering. Junior center fielder Randy Martinez was instrumental in making that happen when he designed the new threads last summer.

“Dr. [Norwalk principal David] Olea wants a new start; he wants Norwalk to be a community where everybody in Norwalk has this ‘in’, which is fine,” said Wenrick. “It’s a different vibe.”

Norwalk immediately went to work against the Argonauts in the bottom of the first inning when Martinez reached on an infield single, stole second and scored on a base hit from junior shortstop Caden Barnhill. After a wild pitch and a stolen base landed Barnhill at third, he made it 2-0 when senior catcher Angel Rosales doubled.

Garden Grove got one run back in the next inning when junior pitcher Gabriel Cancino walked his counterpart, Sergio Beccera, who later came home on a base hit from Ruben Torres. Two innings later, Garden Grove tied the game but in Norwalk’s half of the frame, it took the lead for good. Barnhill reached on an error, stole second, went to third on a balk and came home on a fielder’s choice from Rosales.

For added measure, Martinez led off the fifth inning an infield hit, stole second and came home on a base hit from Barnhill. Those two combined to go four for six, score all four runs and drive in half the runs. They also accounted for five of the team’s six stolen bases.

“We knew last year he was going to be a spark plug,” said Wenrick of Martinez. “Him and Caden Barnhill were the only two freshmen I ever had who are going to be four-year lettermen. I have them both at the top of the order; they can flip-flop. Randy is unbelievable on the bases with his speed and can handle the bat really well.”

Cancino worked the first four innings, giving up three hits and striking out half a dozen while junior Angel Gonzales pitched the final three innings, yielding three hits while striking out three. The Lancers would then lose to Mary Star of the Sea High 5-1 last Saturday, and to La Mirada High 7-0 this past Tuesday in the Suburban League opener. They will visit the Matadores today to complete the home and home series, then travel to Mayfair High on Tuesday for the front end of that home and home series.

“We have a good stretch of good teams,” said Wenrick. “I think it’s good we catch La Mirada early. I would have liked to have played a couple of more quality teams. But that’s going to be a challenge to say the least.”