music in the park san jose

Granger, Gillies react to resignation of Luna, who announced he
was stepping down as varsity manager
HOLLISTER

Since word has spread that Michael Luna was stepping down as the varsity baseball manager at San Benito High School after six seasons with the Balers, speculation surrounding the vacant position has been somewhat rampant through Hollister.

“There’s talk around town,” San Benito Athletic Director Tod Thatcher said on Monday.

With baseball being arguably the most popular sport at the youth levels in San Benito County, one would suspect finding a proper coaching replacement for the high school team would be an easy get.

But Thatcher pointed out earlier this week that there are fewer teaching opportunities at the high school right now, which could make the coaching position less attractive to interested candidates and force the school to seek an off-campus coach.

That was the case six years ago when Luna was selected among four different possible coaches, all of whom were off-campus candidates. It was reported the school did not receive any in-house interest for the vacant varsity position at that time, though, an important factor considering in-house candidates are given priority for the job.

In fact, the year before, in 2003, Luna was initially chosen to take over the San Benito baseball team after Neal Andrade stepped down to coach the Gavilan College baseball team. But the job went to Derek Barnes due to his held teaching position at the high school, it was reported.

Barnes resigned a year later to spend more time with his family and pursue a master’s degree after leading the Balers to the playoffs that year. Luna then took over in 2004, and compiled a 147-41-1 overall record over the next six seasons, 85-14 in the Tri-County Athletic League.

As of Friday morning, the school had not posted the open coaching position but was expected to some time this week. Luna, who will become the co-head baseball coach with Mike Perez next season at Mission College, and will later take over as the lone head coach of the Santa Clara school, said he will have no role in picking his replacement at SBHS.

“We’re gonna try and find the best coach we can to fill the spot,” Thatcher said.

San Benito is expected to return six players to next year’s varsity team, including Cooper Sepulveda, Matt Vallejo, Anthony Ocampo, Dustin Rovella, Bryan Granger and Darin Gillies.

The latter two, Granger and Gillies, both made verbal commitments recently to Division I schools, and are expected to anchor San Benito’s pitching rotation next season, along with Rovella.

“I back him 100 percent,” said Gillies, who committed to Arizona State in April. The incoming senior said Luna notified him of his decision the day before he told the rest of the summer league players, as Gillies was going on a camping vacation and would have been out of contact.

“He’s got to do what’s best for him and his family,” Gillies added. “It’s definitely a huge loss for our program, but we’ll be back.

“He’s done great things for us and for our community, and I’m forever grateful to him for that.”

Granger, who made a verbal commitment earlier this month to play at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, said the news of Luna’s resignation was hard at first, having known the former manager since he was in the seventh grade.

“It was definitely hard,” Granger added. “I’ve been playing with him for so long and knew him so well, it was definitely a tough thing.”

Granger, too, recalled speaking with Luna about his decision.

“It’s a higher level,” Granger said. “I knew it was the best thing for him. Things like that just don’t come around too often.”

Added Gillies, “He’ll definitely be missed.”

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

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