Dayton baseball rained out, Garcia and Clark keep clicking
For the Dayton pitcher and catcher combo of senior Forrest Garcia and sophomore Tyler Clark, the trust and comfort game hasn’t been a hard one to master. In addition to their pitcher and catcher role, the two are a running back tandem during football season. Garcia and Clark do have some time apart, though. The two go their separate ways during winter sports.
Garcia helped the Dayton basketball program get to the semifinal round of this years’ 3A state playoffs. Clark said he remained inactive during the winter sports schedule so he could ready himself for baseball season.
The two have come together again for the baseball season as Dayton’s primary battery. Despite the age difference, the two have grown close and share the bond of wanting to win state championships — no matter the sport.
“We’re really close,” Clark said. “We really help each other out and it helps our trust and we get along really well. It helps make our performance as a defense better.”
The two have helped the baseball team to an early win, and were right back on track Tuesday vs. Willamina (1-1). The game was called after 2 1/2 innings due to rain, but Garcia and Clark kept Dayton’s 9-2 lead in tact before the game was officially cancelled.
Dayton coach Roger Lorenzen said the defense didn’t play up to its potential, but with the close relationship that Garcia and Clark share, they were able to weather the storm and get Dayton out of jams in the first two innings.
“(Garcia) wasn’t happy with the number of balls he threw,” Lorenzen said. “The two of them work really well together. Because of that, we were able to put a lot of pressure on (Willamina) to get an early lead.”
Garcia’s performance, while short, wasn’t as bad as he said it was.
Garcia led off the inning with a walk to the Bulldogs’ leadoff man Brady Bruckner and surrendered a single to Travis Garza to put Willamina runners on first and second with no outs.
With the rain heavily coming down, Garcia and Clark had a brief meeting at the mound, and whatever the two said in that conference, worked.
Garcia opened the count 0-2 to Nolan Smith, but threw three-straight balls to bring the count full. On the eighth pitch of the at bat, Garcia got Smith to swing and miss at the fastball for the strikeout, and first out of the inning.
Garcia finished the inning by striking out the side. After the game was called, he still insisted his performance was not to his best.
“Not one of my best pitching performances,” Garcia said. “The errors (2) and the rain didn’t help. It was kind of a combo of everything. Just didn’t have a good day.”
Garcia said that once he and Clark met up for that brief moment, the two were able to get back on the same page and get out of the early jam.
The close friends also get it done with the bat too.
Garcia led off the inning with a ringing single to right-center field, and promptly stole second and third base. Garcia scored two pitches later on a wild pitch from Willamina’s Luis Estrada to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead.
By the time Clark got to the plate as the sixth hitter in the Pirates’ order, Dayton was up 3-0, and Clark was about to add to that lead.
Clark took the first pitch from Estrada and drove it up the middle for a hit that scored Darren Ashley. At that point, the Pirates led 4-0 en route to a nine-run first inning.
Garcia finished the day 1-for-1 with a single and a walk, and Clark went 1-for-2 with a single and a ground out.
“We had a good day at the plate, but I don’t think we played our best, but the rain didn’t help,” Garcia said.
While Lorenzen, Garcia, and Clark agreed the Pirates didn’t play their best, Clark said the relationship between he and Garcia has gotten stronger, which has made them better as Dayton’s battery.
Clark said on game day the two meet up well before the game and go over how the two see the game going. Clark said Garcia tells him what he has in mind with what pitches he throws in certain situations.
After Garcia is done, Clark said he makes suggestions to Garcia based on what Garcia wants to do, and Clark said the two rarely ever come across a disagreement.
“I just try to help him out, and he tries to help me out,” Clark said. “He asks me what I think he can do better, and what I can do to help him and what he can do to help me.”
Garcia said with a young team, and an inexperienced pitching staff, it’s important for Garcia and Clark to have a close relationship.
“We’re very close,” Garcia said. “We play the same position in football, and we have to rely on each other out here. We work really well together, and work to make each other better.”
That on-the-field relationship extends off the diamond too.
Both Garcia and Clark said they make it a point to talk and socialize away from sports so that their relationship in athletics can be stronger and take the Pirates to the next level of reaching the state playoffs.
Clark said the two pick one day out of the week and spend time together, just the two of them.
“Forrest comes over all the time,” Clark said. “We have a movie night and things like that. We try to hang out a lot away from sports.”
Both said the time they spend together away from the field helps on the field tremendously, specifically helps the two to trust each other to where they rarely approach a situation differently.
The bonding between Garcia and Clark is showing results. Through a game and a half this season, Garcia has 10 strikeouts while allowing two runs. With Garcia on the mound this season, Dayton has outscored its two opponents 24-2.
There has not been a date determined yet for the Pirates and Bulldogs to make up the game. Dayton plays at 5 p.m. today vs. Amity. Willamina plays at 5 p.m. today vs. Gervais.