Patrick Kelley lets out a roar during the Royals' seven-run second inning. | Credit: Lily Chubb

The San Marcos High baseball team couldn’t have scripted a better start to its journey in the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs.

The Royals exploded offensively and received a typical lights-out performance from ace starting pitcher Cole Schoenwetter on their way to a 12-1 victory over visiting California High of Whittier on Thursday afternoon. 

“It’s just a lot of hard work. Everyone gets excited for game days, but can you get excited for Monday when you have your game on Thursday,” said San Marcos coach Wes Ghan-Gibson. “I feel like this team does that really well. They almost treat every day — whether it’s a game day or practice — like it’s a game.”

In addition to his duties on the mound, Schoenwetter also slots into the three hole on offense, and he got San Marcos started with a two-out double in the bottom of the first inning. Owen Estabrook followed with a triple to give San Marcos a 1-0 lead.

San Marcos exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the second inning to break the game open. Schoenwetter was once again in the middle of the action with a bases-clearing double as the Royals took an 8-0 lead.

Cole Schoenwetter had a big day on the mound and at the plate. | Photo Credit: Lily Chubb

Leadoff man Caden Hodina reached base four times and got the Royals going in the bottom of the third with a double to right field that one-hopped the fence. San Marcos scored three runs in the inning, including a single through to right field by Brad Cekada that drove in Schoenwetter and Estabrook, increasing the San Marcos lead to 11-0.

“Last year in the playoffs, I struggled — I think I went 0-for-4 — so I definitely wanted to get my first playoff hit,” said Hodina, who recently committed to continue his baseball career at Lewis & Clark college. “My coach always tells me, ‘Power [opposite field] ground ball,’ so I was just trying to go that way. I got an elevated fastball and put it over there, so once I got that hit, I felt pretty good for the rest of the game.”

It was another dominant performance on the mound for Schoenwetter, who struck out seven in 4.2 innings. Erik Perez and Darren Orlando pitched in relief. California High of Whittier’s only run of the game was unearned.

San Marcos will take on Tahquitz in a second round. The home site is to be determined by coin flip. Tahquitz defeated Serra of Gardena 14-13 in their first-round game.


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