Fledgling no more: Young Falcons turn program around

After winless 2010 PVL season, Colfax headed to the playoffs
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Optimism is abundant each spring, especially on the baseball diamond. As the flowers begin to bloom each April, even Chicago Cubs fans announce, “This could be the year.” It was no different at Colfax High. The Falcons were winless in the Pioneer Valley League in 2010 and coach Mike McCabe had just two seniors on his roster. In fact the team had won just five league games in the past three seasons, but there was title talk and goals set to make the postseason, even as late winter snow blanketed the Colfax campus. The Falcons knocked off contender after contender and rose to the top of the PVL standings late in April, but few believed McCabe’s club could keep it up. It’s mid-May now and despite their youth and crushing knee injuries to two of their top players, the Falcons are still playing. They will open the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs on Monday at Pioneer. “Last year we had a young team and after going through a season like that, they knew what it took to turn it around,” McCabe said. Colfax missed out on a share of the Pioneer Valley League title with a 4-2 loss at Bear River on Wednesday. The Falcons finished 9-6 in league play and won two of three games from every team in the league except Lincoln. “We knew if we could do that, we’d be right there in the hunt,” McCabe said. Sophomore Ryan Glazner, a lanky left-handed pitcher and gifted hitter as well, emerged as a huge contributor for the Falcons. Junior Austin Young made big strides as a tough pitcher and quality hitter and sophomore Devon Loomis was impressive on the mound as well. Jake Karbowski was an anchor in center field. He is now the only active senior on the team after senior captain Scott Wright suffered a torn ACL last month. “Everyone just pitched in and played their part,” Karbowski said. “Scott went down and we dedicated the rest of the season to him. “I knew the talent was there,” he added. “The sophomores and freshmen have stepped up. There’s some great talent coming up.” Along with Young, juniors Gary Root, Sam Guzman and Michael Moore played key roles. Roger Lillie was one of the team’s top hitters before going down with a torn ACL. Glazner might have the brightest future. He plays travel baseball year-round and embraces the challenge of facing bigger, older foes when he’s on the mound. “I enjoy the pressure of pitching, putting the team on my back and controlling the game,” Glazner said. The sophomore admitted he didn’t have expectations of contending for the league title when the Falcons started practicing in February. But the team made big strides in a hurry. A stunning 16-2 win over Placer on April 7 turned a lot of heads. “Beating Placer the first time, soundly, that showed us we had a shot at being pretty good,” Glazner said. The miserable 2010 season is now a distant memory thanks to the past two months on the diamond. “We really only had one blowout (loss),” McCabe said. “In every game we lost, we had the winning or tying run on base.” Colfax will enter Monday’s playoff game as a major underdog against Pioneer. The Falcons will likely face Patriots ace Nathan Gonzalez, who is 6-0 with a 1.47 ERA this season. But don’t count out the comeback kids at Colfax. “We’ll go in as a sleeper,” McCabe said. “We’ll battle and see what we can do.”