College baseball: W.F. West grads take similar path to JUCO success

Reynolds, Bunker put faith in scout to lead them to stellar seasons


Places gone and colleges attended, there are two constants for Drew Reynolds and Brock Bunker.

They’ve been by each other’s side for the majority of it and have been guided by the same person to reach the point they are at in their baseball lives.

Major League Baseball scout Steve Avila has been the point person in helping the two W.F. West High School graduates get to two different junior colleges and the continued guidance seeks to further their time on the diamond.

“It is huge. I almost have a cheat sheet,” Reynolds stated. “All I have to do is play this game and everything will be taken care of. It takes that extra stress and pressure off of me and helps me play.”

Reynolds and Bunker were key cogs in Lassen Community College’s 26-15 record, 17 of those wins coming against conference foes, in leading them to the 3C2A Regional.

The duo each played in 38 games, hit over .300 and each making their own contribution to the squad. Reynolds paced the Cougars with 14 home runs and 51 runs batted in to earn All-American honors while Bunker swiped 18 bases, tied for second most.

“I was really happy,” Bunker said. “I would have liked to steal more bases. I can’t really complain too much about that. It was a fun year and a lot of friendships were made.”

From high school teammates to college roommates, Reynolds and Bunker have had their bond and friendship grow on and off the field.

It is something Reynolds doesn’t take for granted.

“He’s a competitor,” he said.

“Whatever he does, he doesn’t lose at. You get to know him a little bit more.”

It wasn’t just the spring season in California where the two were seemingly intertwined, even with being a year apart. It goes back to their prep days in Chehalis playing deep into the postseason in Class 2A.

Reynolds committed to Big 12 program Texas Tech and took a handful of at-bats in the 2021-22 season. Bunker wrapped up his high school career and was looking for a new home.

Their first re-introducement to each other came at Shasta Community College in Redding, California in the 2022-23 season.

Avila encouraged both Bunker and Reynolds to play at Shasta. There was a trust factor with head coach Brad Rupert and new pitching coach John Bentley.

(Avila) told me it was a good program and that we should go there,” Bunker said. “Nice weather and that’s what I was there for. It was honestly a little too hot.”

For Reynolds, he said he launched 15 home runs in fall ball at Shasta and hit five long balls in the first 10 games in spring, but a hamstring and finger injury nagged him and eventually ended his season.

If there was a lick of self-doubt after his short stint in Lubbock, Texas, it went away.

“At that point, I knew I wasn’t done with baseball,” Reynolds said. “Absolutely dominating them made me feel I can still play this game.”

Bunker had a different experience. Early on, he suffered some ligament damage that forced him to take a medical redshirt. It was one of the first times he’s ever been seriously injured playing baseball.

“It was my first time ever sitting back in the dugout watching baseball,” Bunker admitted. “That was weird to me. I hit the gym hard and get back to the best I can be.”

Suddenly, the right-hander garnered an appreciation for doing the little things to stay healthy. Coupled with some added muscle, Bunker was able to contribute daily for the Cougars.

He’ll return to Lassen in the fall for his redshirt sophomore season before turning his attention to potentially playing D-I ball. He stated he’ll start reaching out to coaches soon.

“I’m going to try to sign early in the fall,” Bunker said. “Pretty (open-minded), I’d like to stay close-ish, so I’m not too far away from my family.”

Reynolds will return to Division-I baseball as he is heading to the University of Maine in August. The priority goal, one that has been on his mind since his high school days, is to be an MLB draftee.

Avila viewed Maine as a good fit for the left-handed hitter.

“This is your opportunity, take it,” Reynolds said. “The chances of still putting up numbers and getting drafted is still high.”

Reynolds is taking the lessons he’s learned in stride now soon-to-be entering his fourth college. Throughout the ups and downs, messages from each coaching staff have paid dividends.

“Give me 100 percent of your 80 percent,” Reynolds recalled one of his coaches telling him. “You’re not going to be 100 percent everyday, as long as you bring 100 percent of what you can (muster). I want to stay consistent and be a good teammate. As long as I take care of those two things, everything else will fall into place.”