All-Empire Large School Baseball: Hoge stepped up his game

Peter Hoge of  Maria Carrillo, the All-Empire Large School Baseball Player of the Year.  (KENT PORTER / Press Democrat)

Peter Hoge of Maria Carrillo, the All-Empire Large School Baseball Player of the Year. (KENT PORTER / Press Democrat)

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Logging just two games in two years on the mound, left-hander Peter Hoge was an improbable ace coming into his senior season, yet he led Maria Carrillo to the best record in program history.

In his third year as a starter in the field, Hoge could be counted on for a steady glove and strong bat. The promising Pumas, though, needed another front-line pitcher to bolster the rotation, and Hoge was a revelation to Empire and North Coast Section opponents.

Posting a 10-1 record and ranking among Maria Carrillo’s top hitters, Hoge helped lead the Pumas to an undefeated North Bay League campaign and the North Coast Section playoff quarterfinals.

“Peter started every game for us. The combination of his offensive and pitching success played a huge part in our overall team success,” said Maria Carrillo coach Derek DeBenedetti.

The top player on the region’s best team is the All-Empire Large School Baseball Player of the Year.

“I was a senior. I had to lead by example,” Hoge said. “I just had to find a way to help the team win.”

Maria Carrillo was expected to be strong in 2014, returning a sizable corps from a squad that was among the section’s best a year earlier.

What the Pumas lacked was a second starter to anchor the pitching staff. Hoge would do the job.

“I didn’t think I was going to be the No. 1 starter,” he said. “I just had to step up and bear down, and got results.”

Following a summer and fall working on his curve and changeup to complement an improved fastball, Hoge earned a starting spot. He threw strikes, got outs, and made everyone around him better.

“Peter made huge strides as a pitcher, both physically and mentally,” DeBenedetti said. “His consistency throughout the season was a tremendous accomplishment. Statistically, he turned in one of the best seasons as a pitcher that I have seen in a long time.”

Winning nearly half of Maria Carrillo’s games, Hoge also completed five — four were shutouts.

Hoge yielded less than a run per contest on the season. The two runs Montgomery scored in two losses to the Pumas wins were the only runs he allowed in league play.

Crediting a solid defense and an offense scoring nearly seven runs a game, Hoge pitched with confidence, commanding opponents.

“I started to dig it. I just rolled with it,” he said. “I didn’t overpower batters. I hit my spots and kept hitters off-balance.”

Taking charge on the mound was but one example of Hoge taking on roles the team needed to win.

When not pitching, Hoge played the outfield. His first two years on varsity, Hoge started at first base, where there was a logjam this season.

Despite the moves in the field, Hoge was a tough out at the plate.

“You have to be talented as well as work hard to be able to be successful at both,” DeBenedetti said. “Peter put in the time and effort into both and did not shy away from the required work.”

Hitting is more than putting the ball in play. The best execute according to the situation, making outs to move up runners or stroking run-scoring hits.

Hoge hit .337 and totaled 22 runs batted in on the season.

“I kept my confidence up. When you have opportunities, you get the job done,” Hoge said. “It’s definitely not easy. It’s what you’ve got to do.”

Contributing across the field, Hoge and three fellow seniors helped lead Maria Carrillo to a program-best 25-3 record — including a 22-game win streak.

Hoge capped the season throwing a shutout in the section playoffs and then knocking in two runs as Maria Carrillo’s run ended in the NCS quarterfinals.

“It was the best season of my baseball career. The team effort and my success, it was just great,” he said.

Playing at the next level is Hoge’s aim, starting at Santa Rosa Junior College, one of California’s premier programs. This summer, he is playing for the Santa Rosa American Legion Under-19 team and continuing to hone the pitching craft.

“I’ll have to work real hard,” he said. “It’s always a lot of commitment, but the result always pays off.”

You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or mike.coit@pressdemocrat.com.

ALL-EMPIRE LARGE SCHOOL BASEBALL TEAM

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Peter Hoge, Maria Carrillo, Sr.

FIRST TEAM
Andrew Vaughn, IF, Maria Carrillo, So.
Keith Wallach, C, Maria Carrillo, Sr.
Jared Noonan, P, Montgomery, Sr.
Jeff Rebello,IF/P, Cardinal Newman, Sr.
Eric Parnow, P/OF, Casa Grande, Jr.
Grant St. Martin, C, Analy, Sr.
Garrett Hill, IF, Analy, Sr.
Vinne Albano, OF, Sonoma Valley, Sr.
Austin Thomason, C, Petaluma, Sr.

SECOND TEAM
Austin Martinez, IF, Maria Carrillo, Sr.
Josh Lenney, IF, Montgomery, Sr.
Alex Roeser, OF, Cardinal Newman, Jr.
Spencer Torkelson, IF, Casa Grande, Fr.
Connor Littleton, P, Rancho Cotate, Sr.
Evan Hill, P, Analy, Sr.
Austin Gabbert, OF, Petaluma, Jr.
Hunter Williams, P, Petaluma, Jr.
Dan Deely, IF, Sonoma Valley, Sr.

THIRD TEAM
Zach Scott, P/IF, Maria Carrillo, Jr.
Sam McBeth, OF, Montgomery, Sr.
Ray Hernandez, IF, Cardinal Newman, Sr.
Robbie McIntosh, IF/OF, Ukiah, Jr.
Kenny Beeler, IF, Analy, Sr.
Ben Sanderson, IF, Petaluma, Jr.
Mitch Hood, P, Sonoma Valley, Sr.
Jimmy Flatt, P, Sonoma Valley, Sr.
Tony Martignoli, IF/OF, Piner, Jr.

COACH OF THE YEAR
Derek DeBenedetti, Maria Carrillo

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