The baseball team is comprised of teenagers from Atascadero and Templeton
ATASCADERO — Over Father’s Day weekend (June 18 and 19) the Atascadero Oaks Baseball 14u team competed in the Surf’s Up Tournament held in Pismo Beach. The tournament, which has been held for the past six years, saw over 90 teams play who entered under multiple age brackets.
“We had 10 teams in our 14u division. The first day you play two games to get your Sunday bracket seed,” stated Oaks Coach Erik Wanner. “Our first day was quite memorable as we lost the first game on a walk-off home run with two outs in the last inning and then won the next game on a game-ending triple play — endings you don’t see back-to-back too often.”
The Oaks Baseball team is made up of 13 local high school players, all aged 14, with 10 of them coming from Atascadero High School and three from Templeton High School. The team was created a year ago with the goal of competing locally in travel-ball-style tournaments.
“The Central Coast is a prime destination spot for teams to travel to and compete while enjoying a nice getaway,” Wanner said. “For us, this provides a great opportunity to play competitive teams from outside the area while minimizing the travel aspect. Most of these tournaments are based out of Pismo Beach and the Five Cities area. We had a competitive summer last year but not many wins to show for it (lots of one-run loss games). We began this summer with a goal to not only compete but also win.”
On Sunday, June 19, the Oaks were the sixth seed of the tournament’s Gold Bracket, which is made of the top-tier teams. In total, the team needed to win all three of their games on June 19 to win. Playing as the visiting team in all three games, the Oaks won their games against Pismo Beach, Santa Barbara, and Bakersfield to take the 14u Gold Bracket.
“We had some special performances throughout the tournament. Zach Savino won the tournament MVP with incredible hitting and catching. Damon Mitchell won the championship game MVP with a complete-game win pitching performance,” Wanner said. “Our defining moment came in the semifinal game against the Santa Barbara Stingrays. A gutsy relief performance from Steven Ernst had kept the game close, yet we trailed in the last inning by two runs. Clutch hits from Miguel Zepeda, Evan Wanner, and Weston Witt tied the game up, and we went ahead on RBIs from Uly Kaul and Charlie Dahlen, and we never looked back. Our defense was also a driving force for our team, and it is an area of emphasis which the team worked very hard on.”
The Oaks team is comprised of the following athletes: Weston Witt, Ulysses Kaul, Damon Mitchell, Zach Savino, Charlie Dahlen, Will Capaci, Wyatt Litten, Steven Ernst, Isaiah Rodriguez, Evan Wanner, Reid Gearhart, George Bowman, and Miguel Zepeda. Erik Wanner and Jeremy Gearhart are the coaches.
“This Oaks team has truly become a close-knit family with all the players genuinely pulling for one another while also pushing each other in a positive manner to help reach each one’s potential,” continued Wanner. “It was highly rewarding to see each and every player’s fingerprints evident on this championship effort. Myself and Coach Jeremy Gearhart could not be more proud of the way the boys carried themselves on and off the diamond. We look forward to a full summer of competitive baseball, and we also look forward to the player’s futures as young men.”