Douglas High baseball team enters new regime | NevadaAppeal.com
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Douglas High baseball team enters new regime

Carter Eckl
ceckl@recordcourier.com

Douglas High School baseball is under new tutelage this season as Ryan Gonzalez has taken over at the helm.

Gonzalez, a 2002 Carson High graduate, isn’t a stranger to the Tiger baseball team having coached youth travel baseball for several years before joining with Douglas as an assistant back in 2017 under coach Don Amaral.

The 36-year-old also had previous coaching experience after serving three years as an assistant at Western Nevada College under D.J. Whittemore where several players went on to have Division I as well as professional careers.

Gonzalez played collegiately at Cerro Coso Community College and Western Nevada College, before jumping into the coaching ranks.

He feels his biggest addition to the program – outside of his extensive baseball background – is prior knowledge of the players on the team and the respect he’s earned from his players over the last few seasons.

“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to coach such a historic, prideful program,” said Gonzalez. “It’s just such a great community. … I think the most important thing is they respect me. They’re like sponges. I think just having that trust and respect and knowing that I wouldn’t let them down is really relaxing for a baseball player.”

Putting together the lineup

The Tigers lost a few key seniors from last season, but Douglas and Gonzalez are excited about what the coming season may hold for the black and orange.

One of the biggest pieces returning for the Tigers is backstop Eli Lyons, who led the team in runs driven in with 15 while hitting .324 with eight doubles.

Lyons, a senior and returning all-region player, has already committed to play college baseball at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, which plays at the NAIA level.

“We have a solid, solid junior class,” said Gonzalez. “Lots of starters from last year that are going to contribute heavily to the program this year.”

At the top of that list is Chris Thacker, who returns after earning a second team all-region selection last season after allowing four earned runs in 31 innings pitched last season while hitting .282 at the plate and driving in seven runs.

“He’s going to be an anchor on our pitching staff,” said Gonzalez of Thacker.

Douglas also will be heavily relying on hurlers such as Gage Hoyle and Luke Ackermann among others.

The rest of the infield will include Matt Goff, who hit .220 with eight RBIs, two doubles and home run last season as well as Austin Grant.

In the outfield will be a mixture of Zakary Korzeniewski, Camden Brown, Wyatt Grisell, Evan Simpson, Hoyle and Thacker – at least in the season’s early going.

Korzeniewski, Brown and Simpson all saw action in nearly every game last season.

“It’s going to be who’s hot,” said Gonzalez of the 20 Tigers on the varsity lineup this season. “Who is handling the barrel, who is commanding the baseball on the mound and who is making the least amount of errors. That’s going to be what’s going to help us throughout the season.”

Northern Region expectations

After going 10-15 overall last season and 7-13 in Northern Region play, Douglas snuck its way into the postseason as the No. 8 seed last season before dropping its only two playoff contests.

With as much returning talent as the Tigers have this season, Gonzalez is expecting the Tigers to make Northern Nevada aware of its presence.

“I think we’re going to make a strong statement this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re there at the end with some of the top teams in Reno, fighting for a championship there and trying to get into state,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez feels programs such as Reno, Spanish Springs, Bishop Manogue, Damonte Ranch and McQueen are all going to continue being strong programs in the region.

“It’s going to be a juggling act at the top. The top six teams are all pretty evenly matched,” said Gonzalez.

To be one of the top schools in the area, Gonzalez said the Tigers have to buckle down defensively and take care of their pitchers on the hill.

“I’ve got the upmost confident in our hitters,” said Gonzalez. “It starts with the defense and making a statement on the mound.”