The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The long road

Kelvin Sanders Sr.,
City College pitcher Dan Sayles, warming up during a practice at City College in April. | Kelvin Sanders Sr. | [email protected]

For many City College athletes, the decision to attend this campus is because it’s close to home, but for others, the travel is a little longer: About 2,000-plus miles farther, to be exact.

Dan Sayles, 21, was born in Milwaukee, Wis., and raised a Brewers fan. He recalls his earliest memories of playing baseball in kindergarten.

“We were always at the local playground playing baseball,” says Sayles. “[We’d] stay there until it got dark.”

Sayles ended up in Sacramento, after meeting former City College baseball coach Andy McKay, who now works with the Colorado Rockies organization, at a baseball camp. Sayles, who attended Wauwatosa East High School in Wisconsin, says he decided to come to City College for the school’s “winning tradition.”

Sayles made a visit in 2010 and says he felt comfortable at the school. “I came out here and watched a game and knew I was going to come [to City College],” recalls Sayles.

Sayles, whose major is undecided, arrived as an outfielder, but once the coaches saw his strong arm, they decided to transition him into the role of pitcher; Sayles has a 90 mile-per-hour-fastball to go along with his secondary pitches: changeup and slider. Sayles says the change came with a learning curve.

“I pitched throughout high school and stuff, but I had never pitched in college,” says Sayles. “The whole practice schedule and everything, working with the pitchers… it didn’t take too long to learn but it definitely took some time.”

Sayles, who started at City College during the fall 2010 semester, had a setback in his first season with City College, when he had to have ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, more commonly known as Tommy John surgery, on his elbow, which held him out of the game for a season.

“It was a little rough at first, because [I had] traveled all this way,” says Sayles. “It really opened my eyes, though, how much I loved baseball, being away from it.”

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“We turned it around. It was rough at the beginning,” says Sayles. “We learned through our struggles, but we really came together as a team and started to play good baseball.” Sayles says that he thinks that the reason behind the team’s winning-streak was the team’s ability to play in the moment.

“Playing pitch by pitch, making less errors, being more focused,” says Sayles. “Just mental preparation has led to the wins and it’s been more fun in return.”

Sayles and the team, were 18-18, sitting in the middle of the Big 8 Conference, and were looking to get some big wins in the playoffs.

“We just have to stay with it [and] not be satisfied by a little success,” says Sayles.

The team would go on to lose their playoff series to Chabot College. As far as his own performance, Sayles, a 6-foot-5-inch left-hander, says there were a few difficult games, but says he now feels good about the production he’s putting out.

“I’ve been pretty pleased with it. I’ve had a couple games where I wasn’t all there,” says Sayles. “I feel like I’m making pitches to give our team a chance to win. That’s my job to give us a chance.”

Teammate Orlando Ortiz, 20, business major, says Sayles is a player the team can rely on to be ready for anything.

“[Dan] is a great teammate and takes care of his own business at practice,” says Ortiz. “He makes sure that he is prepared for his next start, no matter what it takes.” Sayles says he’d love to be able to go back home and play in front of his family and friends in the majors someday, but right now he’s focused on continuing his schooling and baseball career. Sayles, who holds a 4.0 grade point average, recently committed to play for four-time National champion University of Miami. Sayles also had other offers, including Oregon State and University of Central Florida. Current City College head coach Derek Sullivan believes Miami is receiving a great addition.

“[Miami] is getting a projectable left handed pitcher, who’s strong, who throws hard,” says Sullivan. “They’re getting a very intelligent player, a guy that knows how to prepare.” Sayles says he weighed his options and felt Miami was the best fit for him. “The combination of being a great academic school, the best in Florida, along with one of the richest traditions of winning in college baseball,” says _MG_2972-vi Sayles, “and a coaching staff which I was very comfortable with. It was the perfect fit for me to develop as a student and pitcher.”

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