Fullerton Union High School was down, 4-2, with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. With runners on second and third with first base open, Roberto Salazar stepped up to the plate.
He hit a low fastball over the left field wall – his three-run homer guided the Indians (15-5, 6-0) to a 5-4 win over Sonora. Overall, the senior went 3-for-3 with four RBI that night.
“When he comes out to the plate when a situation like that occurs, you just have this feeling that he’s going to come through every single time,” said Tony Gonzalez, Fullerton’s coach. “It’s because of his personality, his work ethic and the type of kid he is.”
Salazar takes pride in being the “glue” of the team. Gonzalez actually calls him the “vacuum,” because over the last three years as the team’s starting first baseman, he has let just one ball slide by him. And when he hits – with his 6-foot-5 and 295-pound frame – he hits harder than arguably anyone in the area.
But for Salazar, baseball is about much more than power or clutch plays.
“Once I step on that baseball field, all the stress of life and school and stuff going on at home, it just goes away,” Salazar said. “I just really appreciate the teammates I have. If something’s not going right at home, if I feel a little emotional, I can always rely on my players to bring me up. It’s kind of like my sanctuary on the field.”
He needed the game in his life more than ever in December 2015, when his father suffered a stroke. Since, his father has struggled to speak and needs around the clock care.
And, he can’t watch his son play anymore.
Salazar, who is close to both his mother and father, was devastated.
With baseball season approaching quickly, he said he had to remain strong on the outside despite how broken he felt on the inside. He didn’t take a practice off. He…