Going into his freshman baseball season at Santa Clara High, Jayce Dobie was joining a program with little respect. During the 2018-19 school year, Dobie played his debut season on varsity, joining a squad that finished the previous season with a 3-12 record in the El Camino League—the lower of the two Santa Clara Valley Athletic League (SCVAL) divisions.
At the time, Bruins baseball wasn’t even an afterthought. Wilcox was where all the baseball talent in Santa Clara seemed to end up.
The Bruins had long been struggling prior to Dobie’s arrival. Santa Clara finished the previous three seasons in the El Camino with records of 9-6, 8-7 and 5-10. The last time the Bruins were in the upper De Anza division prior to Dobie setting foot on campus? All the way back in 2012-13. During that two-year stint in the De Anza, the Bruins combined to win just three games in league. Their overall league record between the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years was just 3-25.
Flash forward to 2018-19 and the narrative surrounding the Santa Clara program began to change. Dobie’s arrival coincided with the hiring of former minor league pitcher Brad Comstock as Head Coach, and the two have been key cogs in the program returning to respectability. Santa Clara went 11-4 in Dobie’s first season and was promoted to the De Anza League the following year.
COVID cut short the 2019-20 season without any league games, and in 2020-21, the Bruins struggled to the tune of a 2-12 league record. However, the two games against Wilcox were both competitive. Santa Clara lost by scores of 5-1 and 4-2.
This season the Bruins remained in the De Anza Division and furthered their push toward respectability within the CCS. Santa Clara finished with a 6-8 league record and won a SCVAL playoff game over Mountain View, clinching themselves a spot in the CCS playoffs. Dobie dominated that game both on the mound and at the plate for the Bruins.
Although Santa Clara would lose both head-to-head games with Wilcox this season, including a blowout in the league finale, the second-to-last game of the season between the two clubs was a 7-6 nail biter.
“I’m really glad that our program is starting to get some attention,” remarked Dobie about the strides his school has made in his four years. “When I first arrived as a freshman and we won league, we were always the underdog. Now we are starting to be seen as a team that people have to try and hang with.”
Against Wilcox Dobie got to pitch and bat against former Westside Little League teammate Jesse Gutierrez.
“I got a couple hits off him, and then he got a triple off me,” chimed Gutierrez on facing his old pal. “I was looking forward to these games all year. It was really fun playing against my friends.”
“I really enjoyed facing Jesse, felt like we were back in Little League when we would face each other,” added Dobie. “I got him and he got me back.”
While the Bruins varsity squad still has to prove they can beat Wilcox, the JV squad swept the Chargers in their two matchups this season.
Perhaps the remainder of the 2020s will hold witness to two baseball powerhouses in the same city?