KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Last year, Jon Guzman watched his teammates win the 4A State Championship. He was there, but he didn’t play.
“It was tough watching them win state without me, but I’m a team player, and I was proud of them,” said Guzman.
The Hornets’ coaches benched Jon before the season for what he referred to as a mistake.
“I had a lot of free time,” said Guzman. “I started hanging out with the wrong crowd for a bit, and I made a mistake.”
“A lot of high school kids can put themselves in precarious situations and Jon did that last year a couple too many times, and it cost him,” said head coach Tim Cleland.
“I don’t even know,” said Guzman. “I was so mad at myself. I don’t think I’ve cried that much in my life. I mean, it was rough. It was rough.”
What it cost was a year to showcase his skills and an opportunity to play on a state champion team, but it didn’t cost Guzman time with his teammates.
“From the moment we realized the situation that Jon was going to be in, we sat down with him and we talked to him, and we said, ‘hey, we want you to be a part of this,’” said pitching coach Rod Seater.
Guzman attended every practice last year and worked out with the team.
“He practiced the entire season as hard as anybody else on the team,” said Cleland.
“He took an extra role,” said Seater. “He helped us call pitches. We had him chart some games just to kind of team him the mental aspect that goes into the pitching game, and I think it’s helped him dramatically this year.”
In just under 53 innings this season, Guzman has allowed six earned runs. The Hornets as a team allow about a run and a half per game.
“It’s kind of what we believe in at Henley,” said Seater. “We don’t go anywhere if we don’t have good pitching.”
A big reason for the good pitching is that Guzman didn’t go anywhere.
“I just love baseball,” said Guzman. “Practice to me is fun. I had a good time being here, and I wanted to be around my friends.”
“He’s always been a part of our team even when we didn’t have him last year,” said Jesse Hilyard. “We knew he couldn’t play, but we still felt like he was a part of the team.”
Guzman said he felt the same way, but deep down, missing last year provided extra motivation.
“Playing kind of with a chip on my shoulder. I wanted this year,” said Guzman. “They won State last year. I wasn’t playing. I wanted it even more this year.”
“We talked about, ‘they did it without you, Jon.’ They were able to overcome. Now you need to go back out there and you need to earn your spot on that group again,” said Seater.
Henley enters the tournament with one loss in 25 games. They’ve allowed 16 earned runs in that span. Guzman earned his spot in that group and he is a part of the team on and off the field.