The past week has been special for Mike de Necochea.
After the McClatchy High School baseball coach earned his 200th win with his alma mater Thursday, 11-0 over Valley, he received a postgame water cooler dumping and celebrated with his team.
At Saturday’s practice, de Necochea, a 1984 graduate, participated in a “long drive” contest to see who could hit a baseball the farthest on a field without fences.
Who would’ve ever though I’d come back, especially after going into the Army out of high school? I never saw it coming.
McClachy baseball coach and alum Mike de Necochea
“The guys love to swing it, and I reached for my wood bat,” de Necochea said. “They can crank it. One pitch, lucky for me, I hit a bomb. (Infielder) Jack Filby walked out to his bomb; I walked to mine. He picked up his ball and tossed it a little farther but admitted I got him. It’s been a good week.”
On Sunday, de Necochea and his wife, Gloria, celebrated their 23rd anniversary with breakfast and champagne, and de Necochea skipped his Sunday Men’s Senior Baseball League game with the Sacramento Valleycats, who have won multiple championships.
“Thought I’d better take a day off from baseball, and (the time with my wife) bought me a lot more Sundays to play ball,” de Necochea explained.
De Necochea said he learned a a lot from his McClatchy coach, Bernie Church, particularly about accountability and effort.
Three McClatchy baseball coaches have won 200 or more games. Church won 221 games over 16 seasons through 1988, and he coached two first-round draft picks: shortstop Joel Bishop in 1972 and outfielder Dion James in 1980. Brian LoForte won 223 games over 10 seasons through 2000, including the 1998 Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title over Vallejo and its power pitcher, CC Sabathia, a first-round pick.
In addition to his 200 victories in 11 seasons, de Necochea has led McClatchy to six Metro League championships since 2007, and the Lions, who entered this week’s Sacramento Bee rankings at No. 20, are nearing another. They are 11-8 overall and 7-1 in league.
“It’s special to win so many games at my old school, and we’ve had a lot of good kids who I’ve known since they were in Little League,” said de Necochea, whose son Michael is on the junior varsity. “Who would’ve ever thought I’d come back, especially after going into the Army out of high school? I never saw it coming.”
De Necochea said Church “strongly believed that it didn’t matter how many games you win. What’s important is developing good sons, fathers and citizens. We’re trying to do that.”
De Necochea also develops good ballplayers. Filby is batting a team-high .352 with 11 RBIs and 17 runs and is a stellar shortstop. Avery Wood, one of just two seniors on the roster, has driven in 13 runs. The pitching staff is strong with Filby (2-1, 0.82 ERA), Jack Hinrichsen (3-3, 2.06), Matt Ogihara (3-0, 0.54) and Gabriel Sabado (2-1, 0.66).
De Necochea said times have changed since he played three sports for McClatchy.
“We hear that kids are different, softer, but I really believe it’s the parents who have changed,” de Necochea said. “It’s how we parent. I’ve seen it. We do way more now. We’re way more involved as parents, in school, social lives, sports. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes not.
“But they’re still kids. They want to compete, do well. There’s more pressure on kids than before. I feel for the kids, because they’re mostly good kids. Parents can be hard on kids. Don’t be hard on them. Understand them. I’m an adult. If a parent wants to come at me about a baseball issue, I’ll take it, and take the high road. Baseball can be a great thing. Don’t ruin it.”
.352 Jack Filby’s team-high batting average for McClatchy
Wildcats roar – No. 6 Franklin beat second-ranked Jesuit 6-5 at Sacramento City College on Friday night in a Delta League game that felt like the playoffs.
D.J. Smith singled to left field in the bottom of the eighth inning to drive in Leland Manaois from second base with the winning run. Nico Regino and Isaiah Morales had two hits each for the Wildcats, and Zach Tresemer earned the win in relief of Tanner Adams.
While many games in the region were rained out Friday, Sac City coaches and players made sure Franklin and Jesuit could play by placing tarps over the infield. Area teams jump at the chance to play under the lights at Sac City, the venue for the section Division I North playoffs next month.
With records through Saturday and last ranking:
3. Oak Ridge
4. Elk Grove
7. Vista del Lago
8. Yuba City
9. Capital Christian
11. Granite Bay
15. Del Campo
16. River Valley
17. Christian Bros.
18. Del Oro
19. Pleasant Grove
4. Del Campo
7. Elk Grove
8. Yuba City
9. River City
10. Bella Vista
11. Bear River
12. Casa Roble
13. Vista del Lago
15. Cosumnes Oaks
17. St. Francis
19. Pleasant Grove
20. Christian Bros.