Student athletes that have gone through the Great Oak baseball program have really only ever known one man to lead them as a head coach during their high school careers. In 2004, when the school first opened, Eric Morton was named the head of the baseball program and for 17 years, helped young men grow into adults, through the game of baseball.
Despite stepping away for one season, during the 2017-2018 school year to become assistant athletic director, Morton still had a good watch on the program. Ed Michalkiewicz, an assistant varsity coach in previous years, took over that lone year before Morton announced he would return for the 2019 season.
Morton, who also teaches high school math, started his coaching career at San Marcos High School before moving to Temecula. His biggest supporters, of course, his family consisting of wife Danielle, and two sons, Zach and Nathan, could always be found in the stands of home games and Nathan even played in the program from 2018-2021, getting two years of varsity play time, which included only a few games during the cut-short COVID-19 season in 2020.
On April 2, 2022, Great Oak defeated Riverside Poly 11-2 in a preseason game during the Darryl Kile Tournament, held at Norco High School, which gave Morton a milestone in career win number 300 as a head coach.
“I was so proud and thankful to have reached the milestone of picking up my 300th win,” Morton said via social media. “I’m so blessed to have had amazing players, parents, administrators, coaches and a family who have been part of this journey at both Great Oak and San Marcos.”
Morton has seen plenty of milestones over his tenure at Great Oak, including two CIF Southern Section finals appearances, 2006 and 2019. In 2006 Morton and his Wolfpack squad were the DeAnza League Champions (12-1) and made it through the Division 5 playoffs, but lost the title game to Campbell Hall, 5-4, which was only the program’s second varsity season. In 2019, Great Oak (23-9-1) advanced to the Division 3 final against La Canada (22-7) at Dodger Stadium, winning 7-0, claiming the program’s first, and only, CIF Southern Section title, thus far.
The Southwestern League came to fruition for the Wolfpack in 2007, and Great Oak took the top spot in 2010 when they shared the league title with Murrieta Valley. Both teams went 11-4 in league play that year. With an 11-4 record in 2014, Morton and the Pack were also the overall league champions that year, claiming the title outright.
On Thursday, May 19, roughly two weeks after finishing in third place in the Southwestern League this year and falling to Maranatha High School in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs, Morton announced he would be hanging up his coaching hat at Great Oak.
“It was an emotional day when I announced to the team that I will be retiring as head baseball coach at Great Oak high school,” Morton saud. “It has been an amazing 21 years as a head varsity coach, with 17 of those years being at Great Oak. I will forever cherish the memories and friendships I have made along the way.”
According to MaxPreps, which has been known to have a glitch here and there, Morton ends his career at Great Oak with 257 wins, 190 losses, and four tie ball games. In the Southwestern League, again, according to MaxPreps, Morton compiled 101 wins, and 96 losses. Overall, he had 307 wins as a head coach, with 50 wins coming by way of San Marcos High School.
A new head coach for the Great Oak program has not yet been announced, but incoming freshmen can go online to register for the summer program, which started June 14th. The program has also been hosting youth camps, and more information can be found by visiting www.gohsathletics.com/gohsbaseball.
JP Raineri can be reached by email at email@example.com.