Past contacts with coaches ended up opening new doors for East Union senior Marco Gonzales’ future.
On Monday, he was joined by Menlo College head baseball coach Jake McKinley and assistant David Tufo at the East Union library where he signed his letter of intent to play for the Oaks.
Gonzales participated in a baseball camp at Stanford this past summer and reunited with Tufo, who previously coached him on the Junior Cardinal Baseball Academy travel team.
“I didn’t know until then that he was a coach for Menlo, and I just asked him what the team was looking for,” the 5-foot-8, 200-pound Gonzales said. He’ll pitch and play third base for the Oaks.
Tufo then went to McKinley with Gonzales’ inquiries, and the Menlo head coach immediately recognized the name. He was an assistant coach for Sacramento State when Gonzales put his skills on display at a camp there.
“He remembers me from that camp,” Gonzales said. “He knows what I did then. When Tufo referred me to him he said, ‘Yeah, I know that kid.’ With them both knowing me, the relationship between us just jelled pretty quickly.”
Gonzales’ comfort with the coaches, familiarity of the surroundings and proximity to his family made the choice easy. While other programs expressed interest, Gonzales committed to the NAIA school soon after New Year’s Day.
“I figured that since it was a new year I might as well start it right,” he said.
He added that the Oaks’ recent run of success also played a factor in the decision. Menlo hasn’t had a losing record since 2009 and went 62-50 in McKinley’s first two years as head coach. The team is currently 6-3 in the Golden State Athletic Conference and 19-7 overall.
“The campus really reminded me of East Union because of all the trees and the quad area,” said Gonzales, who plans on studying sports management. “Plus, I have a lot of relatives in the area so it’s easy for me to feel at home. It also helps that the baseball team has been very good. They’re doing well this season, so why not go to a team that has already been winning?”
Gonzales is in his third year as East Union’s pitching ace on the varsity squad. In his two-plus seasons, he’s 8-2 with a 2.00 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 91 innings. He also hit .348 as a sophomore.
“Menlo College is getting an outstanding player and an even better young man,” East Union coach Dan Triglia said. “He worked really hard in the offseason and is ready for the next step. He’s got a live arm but also understands the game really well, and it’s going to serve him well at the next level. He’s very versatile and can play a number of different positions as well as throw from the bump. They’ll be able to make good use of his talents.”