James Buchanan baseball coach Dave Sanchez said he coaches like he played. 


And thankfully for the James Buchanan baseball team, it has taken just two years of tough love to turn the program around after nearly a decade of underachievement. 

In only his second year at the helm, Sanchez led his team to a 16-5 record - breaking the school record for wins in a season, dating back to 1976, and turned a struggling program into a conference and district contender.

Sanchez is the Public Opinion Baseball Coach of the Year.

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When Sanchez took over in 2016, he said one thing was clear about the culture surrounding the James Buchanan baseball program - the team lacked confidence. 

But since going without a winning season since 2008, Sanchez said the team needed to first earn the confidence of a winning program with work in the offseason. 

"My biggest job was constantly trying to get them to believe in themselves, and no matter what team they were playing, believe that they were no longer going to be the underdogs," Sanchez said. "It took work, tough practices, and some wins but at the end of the year they believed in themselves going into the playoffs."

Sanchez said the biggest change, and the most vast improvement was a result of year-round workouts the team took part in to prepare for the 2017 season. After losing a number of close one-run losses last year, the team knew they left a few wins on the field, despite already exceeding expectations.

"The guys put in a really grueling and good offseason, they hit the weights they ran, got up early and got to the gym, not only because it makes players better, but it also invests them into some of those close games," Sanchez said. 

"Last year the guys had a loss that was tough and they were crying. I told them they haven't invested the time to be able to cry yet. They haven’t invested the extra time it takes to truly be great - and they took that to heart," Sanchez said. "All fall and winter they really put that time in so when those close games came up, they could look back at that early morning workout and it helped them get through it."

Sanchez, a former shortstop a Frostburg State, formerly coached his son's little league team before taking over at JB - a transition that was much more his speed, according to Sanchez. 

He describes himself as a hard-nosed player, and coaches the same way. 

"I thought these kids needed some tough love and hopefully they love me for it," Sanchez said. "You have to go through ups and downs and that learning process is tough with anything. I just relied on coaching the way I played - hard all the time."

Although the Rockets fell to East Pennsboro in the second round of the District 3 tournament after receiving a first-round bye, James Buchanan ended its regular season on a seven-game winning streak, including three big Mid Penn Colonial Division victories. In the last leg of the season, JB outscored opponents 47-13.

"I expect to compete every year," Sanchez said. "These players are the ones who won the games. They're the ones who set the record, the only thing I did was push them to be better. We will have some guys back who will be ready and have confidence from this year and I expect great things."

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