Berwick and Patterson high schools may be separated by just a few miles on La. 182 and the individual players on each school’s baseball teams may know each other, but don’t tell Berwick head coach Mike Thomas that Saturday’s District 9-3A matchup between the two schools is a big-time rivalry game.
“Oh, that question again,” Thomas told The Daily Review after Thursday’s game against Erath when asked about the looming rivalry game between the two schools Saturday at 1 p.m. in Berwick. “I’m going to tell you the same thing I tell everybody every year. Every game we play is important. We’re looking at it as another baseball game. It’s another step towards a district championship, and these guys have set a goal to finish in the top five in power rankings and to win a district championship. We’re not going to let them, as coaches, get all tied up in so-called rivalry.”
While Patterson coach Ryan Jensen does consider Berwick a rivalry, his feelings are much the same about the matchup.
“Often times this game gets blown up into something unnecessarily bigger than normal, but the fact remains with the power point system every game is just as important as the other,” Jensen said. “Sometimes that message is hard to convey to high school kids!”
Still, Jensen acknowledged there will more excitement among his players than normal because of who will be in the opposing dugout.
“We have to make sure that we relax and just play to our abilities,” Jensen said. “We need to make sure we don’t let the adrenaline and intensity of the game cause us to play tight or nervous.”
Jensen said he felt this same thing happened to the ’Jacks earlier this season when they played E.D. White.
“I think we were so excited that it caused us to make uncharacteristic mistakes,” Jensen said.
While Berwick can focus its full attention on Patterson for the next five days (both teams will follow up Saturday’s meeting at Lumberjack Diamond on Tuesday), Patterson must first take care of business against North Vermilion today at 5:30 p.m.
Today’s matchup originally was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday but rains throughout the Tri-City area on Wednesday and early Thursday forced the game to be rescheduled.
“Over the past week we have struggled to a 2-3 record,” Jensen said. “Our defense has been a major concern and has caused us to lose a few games that I feel like we were the better team and should have won. We have given up (one) big inning in all of these contests that ended up being our demise. We have to get back to limiting the damage in those innings and limiting our opponents unearned opportunities.”
The ’Jacks will be looking to avenge an 11-7 loss to North Vermilion Tuesday in Maurice.
As for Saturday’s matchup, both coaches know what they will expect from each other’s squads.
“Coach Jensen does a good job with them over there,” Thomas said. “It’s going to be a seven-inning dogfight.”
However, Thomas said his players only can control what they do.
“We tell these guys this all the time: we never play against a team in the other dugout,” Thomas said. “Baseball’s a game where you’re competing against yourself. You have to control what you can control. You can’t control what they do. This ain’t football. This ain’t basketball. It (doesn’t) matter who they’re pitching. You still have to hit.”
Jensen said his squad must limit walks and errors and on offense, the ’Jacks have to be patient at the plate and put pressure on Berwick to make plays.
“Berwick is a very talented team,” Jensen said. “They have been playing really well this season and really don’t show any glaring weaknesses. You can’t allow a team like theirs anything free because they will undoubtedly take advantage of it. Often times in games like this, it comes down to base running and basic execution, offensively and defensively.”