Pajaro Valley High senior Pablo Moreno is one of 11 returning players on this year's Grizzlies baseball team. (Juan Reyes/The Pajaronian)

In January, baseball coaches within the Pacific Coast Athletic League have a meeting before the first set of practices begin at the end of the month. 

One of the questions always raised for Pajaro Valley High is how many kids are going to show up, and whether there will be a full team come the spring season. 

However, the initial turnout continues to improve every year for the Grizzlies, who had 18 players on the roster ready to go for the 2024 campaign.   

“At least we know we can go out and field a team,” PV manager Ed Ackerman said. “In the past, we weren’t really sure at the beginning of the year.”

This year’s pack of Grizzlies has 11 returning players, including a group of six sophomores who are key for Ackerman as he returns for his second year at the helm.

Ackerman said the youngsters are getting thrown into the fire because they have to play, especially because they don’t have the luxury of having a large group of upperclassmen. 

“I have a feeling their growth is going to be quicker because they’re learning at that varsity level rather than going through a JV level,” he said. “Hopefully they step it up. But like I say, it’s varsity baseball. It’s a big step.”

PV has a quartet of pitchers in seniors Juan Moreno, Pablo Moreno and Neo Moreno, and junior Brandon Moreno—no relation—that Ackerman has faith in anytime they hit the mound.

“Our season has been going—I don’t want to say bad—but it’s not good,” Juan Moreno said. “Our defense needs to tighten up, and we could put some runs up. But other than that, we just need to keep on working.”

Neo Moreno, along with sophomore JC DeLuna and junior Giovanni Moriel, are the top hitters this season for the Grizzlies, who compete in the PCAL Cypress Division.  

Leading the pack of underclassmen is sophomore Steve Martinez, who came on to the scene as a freshman in 2023.

“[Martinez] grew tremendously,” Pablo Moreno said. “He’s put in the work every practice. I don’t really see him miss practices, he’s at every practice that I go to.”

Ackerman has spent seven years as a coach with the program, and is in his second season as the skipper after taking over for Matt Manfre in 2023.

Apart from trying to fill in a roster, Ackerman said their biggest issue is having “home” games on a field that belongs to cross-town rival Watsonville High. 

“It’s kind of unfair, and I just feel like we should have the opportunity to have a field, a full field because then you have something to look at and we have this to represent us,” Pablo Moreno said.

The baseball team currently practices on a field meant for the JV softball team that sits past the scoreboard of the new sports stadium and varsity softball stadium that opened in 2021.  

It’s big enough for 90-foot bases, but there’s hardly any space between second base and the outfield, or the patch of grass portrayed as the outfield. Plus, there’s no pitcher’s mound. 

“It would almost be like practicing on a half court for basketball and then going to play full court,” Ackerman said.

Juan Moreno is one of the few four-year varsity players that has experienced this scenario since arriving on campus. Despite not having a home field, he still tries to make the most of it.

“I have fun with it, it just kind of really sucks that we don’t have our own field,” he said. “Just seeing the softball team get their own home field and the baseball team being left out, it really sucks. Being at Watsonville [High], it doesn’t feel the same.”

PV Athletic Director Joe Manfre said a baseball field and an open grass field would sit perfectly in an empty nine-acre lot that sits above the high school. He expressed how Pajaro Valley Unified School District likes to promote equity, yet the newest high school in the district is still not fully constructed.

The campus still doesn’t have a performing arts center or two gymnasiums, as Watsonville and Aptos high schools do.

“Parents want to send their kids to a high school that has all the things that they want them to have,” Manfre said. “Yet, we still don’t have those things.”

There was a time the Grizzlies had to practice at Ramsay Park and didn’t have home games at Watsonville High for several years, forcing them to travel throughout the season.

The softball and football teams had the same dilemma until the new sports complex opened a little more than three years ago. 

It’s a frustrating situation for Ackerman, but he said at this point the program is already getting used to the hardships. He added the hardest part is the day-to-day grind of practice and not having a full facility to train. 

“Not that we need a full field, but having an infield would be nice so that the dimensions are right and everything,” Ackerman said.

Pablo Moreno feels like they’re at a disadvantage from the start without the proper facilities. He believes having a home field of their own would attract more students to play, or at least make it known PV does have a baseball team. 

“We have this to represent us, and I feel kids look at it and they just see it as something more fun and recreational rather than something that should be taken a little bit more seriously,” he said.

Ackerman doesn’t have high expectations as far as winning a lot of games, but he’s confident enough to say that those who have bought into the program should be competitive.

“It’s just a big learning curve, but the kids’ attitudes and their willingness to learn, it’s a positive,” Ackerman said. “It would be hard for us to keep up the enthusiasm and stuff if we had kids that weren’t so coachable.” 

Next up, the Grizzlies will host Seaside High at Watsonville High on April 9 at 6:30pm.

Previous articleWarriors edge Salt Lake City to advance into WC semis | NBA G League playoffs
Next articleSalvation Army shutters its shelter
A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


  1. PVUSD should be embarrassed that they opened up PV high originally with very limited outdoor sports practice/game venues. I remember voting for the bond to improve the PV athletic facilities and it sat in the office of state/local politicians offices forever. Yes the football stadium and softball field are both very nice but the fact that a baseball field on campus has still yet to be built. The baseball team deserves much better and the issue should be resolved asap. This type of thing would never happen in the current state that I reside in and teach and coach in. Students and Athletes are provided with the facilities they need to be safe and a place where they can prepare for their games and also to be proud of.

    • Please sign me up for the newsletter - Yes


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here