The Cavs captured coach Roy Kinnan’s 600th win April 12.
Lake Travis easily routed visiting Anderson 9-2 behind a complete-game effort from ace Daniel Castano, giving Kinnan his 600th victory and putting the Cavs in position to contend for the district title when they host first-place Westlake Friday at 7 p.m.
Kinnan was surrounded by friends, family and former players after his 600th, but as per normal, his focus was on the next game in his true-to-character, “one-game-at-a-time” approach.
“I’ve been very fortunate I’ve gotten 4-, 5- and 600 here,” Kinnan said. “My wife (Liz) kept me aware of it, and it’s a milestone. I’ve had a lot of kids in all these years. I’ve coached some tremendous young men. It’s pretty special to get it at Lake Travis.”
Ties to wins
The ties that string together the Lake Travis baseball community and Kinnan extend far. Castano’s uncle, Steven Vasek, played for Kinnan in the 1990s at Anderson, while several other players have gone on to other baseball ventures, among them Jonathan Paiz at Hill Country Baseball Academy.
His son, Ryan Kinnan, is the head coach at Carrollton Ranchview. His daughter, Claire Harvey, was a coach at Lake Travis Middle School before giving up her basketball, volleyball and other duties this year to focus more on her two young children. She now teaches physical education in the Pflugerville district, and also works the press box at home games with her husband Andy Harvey, who is a counselor in the same district.
It’s no wonder Kinnan keeps coming back year after year, with baseball blood flowing through the family tree.
“Of 1,000 games, I’ve missed eight,” Liz Kinnan said. “[His first season] I had a newborn baby that year, it was very cold, and Roy won five games that year. I thought, ‘Are we sure we want to do this for our lives?’ But it’s been a great life, coaching is a great profession, and he makes a difference in kids’ lives, and through him I do too.
“I felt like my life’s had purpose. I feel like he’s been such a great impact on so many kids over the years.”
Kinnan could not recall his 500th or any other milestone win prior to the 600th, but asked about his connection to the sport and players, and his eyes glimmer.
“No, I really don’t,” said Kinnan of details from the other milestones. “One at a time and this is one at a time, and we took care of it.”
Kinnan has coached for 37 years total – 35 as a head coach – with this season being his 10th at Lake Travis, where he notched wins No. 300, 400 and 500.
Previous stops put Kinnan at Crocket and Anderson in Austin, Lee Junior College, Dulles, MacArthur and as a graduate assistant at Dallas Baptist University, where he played collegiate ball.
Furthermore, the longtime coach has sent an astounding 182 players (and counting) to the collegiate ranks to play ball, and has reached the playoffs 25 of 35 seasons, including a state championship at Dulles in 1989 and last season’s trip to the state semifinals.
“Coaching is in the blood, we love it,” Liz said. “They love him, come back and see him and bring their kids to play for him here now.”
Current senior third baseman Baker Mayfield’s brother, Matt, played for Kinnan as well until graduating in 2008.
“The first time I met him was tryouts freshman year,” Mayfield said with a laugh. “Finding out [former football] coach (Chad) Morris was leaving and (current) coach Hank Carter was going to be the new coach that day, some of the football guys showed up late to tryouts, probably eight minutes late, and he made us run about 50 poles. So that was the first time I met him.”
In the win over Anderson, Castano gave up two runs – none earned – and struck out seven while giving up just four hits and one walk. His battery mate, Wayne Figg, went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, while Mayfield, Tyler Payne, Troy Carter, Drew Judson and Castano each had an RBI in the win.
Carter, Nico Escalante and Conner Fussell had two runs a piece, with Fussell and Brent Triolo stealing two bases as well.
As the game wound down toward that 600th win, Castano started to get a bit antsy on the mound.
“A little bit, I was just ready to finish it, really,” he said. “We knew about [the impending milestone], but we were focused on getting this win. I knew not to take them lightly, and we did it. We’re getting the bats going, everything is going pretty good. It’s a really big win.”
Making every moment count
After a rough start, the Cavs have turned things around and are in contention for a district title their first season in Class 5A.
Kinnan loves to talk to his team about the minutiae of the game, bringing along plenty of tried-and-true sayings, even if he doesn’t always get them completely right every time.
“We could easily be 9-1, but we’re not,” Kinnan said. “Coulda, shoulda, woulda’s in baseball. I tell the kids, if nuts and bolts, or candy and nuts, everday’d be Christmas. Metaphors and things like that
I love these kids; they’ve done a great job.”
Kinnan’s approach helped shape Castano into an ace, with the senior set to pitch at Baylor next season.
Kinnan also helped guide pitcher Chance Ruffin and Brad Dydalewicz get their games sharp enough to be drafted into the majors.
“One batter, one pitch, one at a time,” Castano said. “Every single pitch, refocus. Make the next pitch better than the last one.”
The family togetherness Kinnan fosters, sometimes through tough love, has the team tight-knit again this year.
“He really pushes his players,” Castano said. “Everyone at their specific time will butt heads with coach. But he expects the best out of them. That’s why we’ve been going so far. You’ve got to trust your coach if you want to do well in the playoffs. We’re starting to do that. This young team is obviously coming together.”
Mayfield added, “It’s finally paying off, our hard work. At the beginning of the season, we thought we didn’t catch any breaks at all. Now we’re starting to get rolling. It’s a great part of the season to get going. Tthere’s nothing wrong with that. People see our records and underestimate us; we’re fine with that.
Kinnan has no plans to retire this year or the next couple of years, with his focus on getting the Cavaliers their first baseball state title this season.
“We’ve overcome a lot of different things this year to get to this point,” he said. “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
More on Friday’s game
The home game against Westlake Friday is “Student Appreciation Night,” and students will receive $1 off admission, so it’s only $1 to get in. All students and fans are urged to wear an Lake Travis T-shirt. There will be barbecue burgers and hot dogs at the concession stand, while student leaders are set to throw out the first pitch.