Los Angeles Preps: baseball

Locals off board early in Day 2 of draft

June, 5, 2012
Right-handed pitcher Chase DeJong of Long Beach Wilson was selected 81st overall by the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday in the second round of the MLB Draft.

DeJong, a USC signee, has some family history with the Blue Jays. His older cousin, Jordan DeJong, played briefly with Toronto in 2007. DeJong was 4-3 with a 0.82 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 76 2/3 innings in his senior season at Wilson.

Joe Muņoz, a shortstop from Los Altos who has signed with San Diego State, went 90th overall to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Tyrone Taylor of Torrance was picked 92nd overall by the Milwaukee Brewers. Taylor, an outfielder who also starred on the gridiron, is a Cal State Fullerton signee.

Bishop Amat infielder Rio Ruiz, a two-sport star who was projected as a possible first-round selection before a blood clot sidelined him for most of his senior season, was taken by the Houston Astros with the first pick of the fourth round, 129th overall. Ruiz, a USC signee, was an AFLAC All-American selection and played on the U.S. youth national team last summer.

Kieran Lovegrove, a right-handed pitcher from Mission Viejo, was picked in the third round by the Cleveland Indians. He was the 110th overall selection.

In the sixth round, the Seattle Mariners selected Huntington Beach Edison shortstop Timmy Lopes, the 191st overall pick.

Ron Miller, a third baseman who left Gardena Serra after his junior season, was selected in the 10th round by the Miami Marlins.

Hunter Virant, a left-handed pitcher from Camarillo, was selected in the 11th round by the Houston Astros. He is committed to UCLA.

Trey Williams from Valencia High, a power-hitting shortstop, was picked in the 11th round by the St. Louis Cardinals. He hit .378 with five home runs and 24 RBIs in his senior season. Williams is committed to Pepperdine.

Jordan Guerrero, a left-handed pitcher from Moorpark High School, was selected in the 15th round by the Chicago White Sox.

Lakewood's Watson picked by Phillies

June, 4, 2012
Pitcher Shane Watson of Lakewood was selected 40th overall by the Philadelphia Phillies in Monday's MLB Draft.

Watson posted a 1.19 ERA this season, striking out 79 batters in 53 innings to lead the Lakewood to a 25-7 record. The right-hander has signed to play at USC.

Harvard-Westlake's dynamic pitching duo of Max Fried and Lucas Giolito were other Southland pitchers selected Monday -- Fried going seventh overall to the San Diego Padres and Giolito 16th to the Washington Nationals. Fried and Giolito are UCLA signees.

Upland infielder Daniel Robertson, also a UCLA signee, was chosen 34th overall by the Oakland Athletics.

Baseball D4: Palm Desert 4, Temple City 0

June, 2, 2012

RIVERSIDE -- The glove was the first thing to go. After that, Brooks Kriske didn't remember much.

The USC-bound pitcher tossed a complete game four-hit shutout, leading Palm Desert to the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 baseball championship with a 4-0 victory against Temple City at UC Riverside on Saturday night.

Kriske struck out the final batter, his 10th of the night, and everything that followed was a blur.

"It's what I was dreaming of, it's how I wanted to end it," Kriske said. "That was the big bang."

Top-seeded Palm Desert scored all of its runs in the first inning, providing the cushion that allowed Kriske to attack hitters. He peppered the strike zone with his fastball. No need to get fancy.

"My off-speed wasn't really there," said Kriske, who improved to 10-3 on the season. "In the first inning, to score four runs, you go in there and pump strikes."

Palm Desert, making its third consecutive title-game appearance, avenged last year's heartbreak. The Aztecs fell to Bishop Amat, 7-0, in the championship last season at Dodger Stadium. In 2010 they beat Torrance, 9-0. Palm Desert (26-8) closed the season on a 13-game win streak.

"This means a lot to the guys that have been here," Palm Desert head coach Darol Salazar said.

Temple City (24-4-1) rallied in the sixth by getting its first two batters on base but couldn't muster any runs. Senior pitcher Calvin Copping suffered his first loss of the season.

Kriske got the final out on a heater, high and away. He turned around, viciously swung his fist and hurled his glove into the air before being tackled by his teammates.

"We had a little practice two years ago," Kriske said. "We're used to it."

RIVERSIDE -- Kiel Alcaraz had been away from baseball for close to seven years. He had strayed from the sport, gravitating instead toward football and track at Desert Christian of Lancaster.

Classmates begged Alcaraz to return to the diamond for one last hurrah. After all, he already had the skill set -- the power of football, the speed of track -- and he'd just need some fine tuning. Alcaraz eventually took head coach Dennis Shyrock up on his offer and, as it turned out, the decision paid off.

Alcaraz scored the winning run in Desert Christian's extra-innings win against Capistrano Valley Christian at UC Riverside on Saturday afternoon, guiding the Knights to their first CIF-Southern Section Division 6 baseball title. Alcaraz led off the eighth inning with a loud liner to the left-center field gap. That was the power of football. Next came the speed of track.

"I turned on the jets," Alcaraz said of his clutch triple.

Chance Gusbeth followed by lining a two-strike pitch to center for the go-ahead run. Fitting, if only because Gusbeth, a fellow running back, had been one of the main advocates in Alcaraz's ears after football season.

"It feels pretty good," Shyrock said. "It's a lot of pain and sweat that comes to even get to this game. It was two years ago that we were sitting outside."

Jared Nunez singled in Gusbeth for the two-run cushion, which reliever Justin Tition preserved in the bottom half of the frame. Capistrano Valley Christian had a chance to win in the seventh inning but stranded the bases loaded to send the game into extras.

Little-used sophomore Chris Bradley earned the victory, tossing 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.

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Baseball D5: Woodcrest Christian 6, Paraclete 1

June, 2, 2012

RIVERSIDE -- Chalk up another one for adrenaline.

Despite having nine stitches in the palm of his throwing hand, senior pitcher John Davis tossed a complete game to lead Woodcrest Christian to a 6-1 win against Paraclete in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 baseball championship Saturday afternoon at UC Riverside. Davis struck out seven in a gutsy effort that he could only attribute to his competitive juices.

"I felt the pressure of the game," Davis said. "I had to buckle down and make pitches."

And nothing else mattered, not even the gash he suffered earlier in the week while diving back to first base. Davis baffled Paraclete's batters with a mixture of high fastballs and harsh breaking balls. It was more than enough for Woodcrest Christian, which made a short 15-minute drive here to win its second title in three years.

"This was one of the studliest efforts I've had a kid pull off in a long time," Woodcrest Christian coach Glenn Prater said. "He called me this morning and said he could pitch. I didn't know if he'd throw six pitches or six innings."

Davis surrendered only three hits after the first inning, making luxury of the 5-1 lead he was given after two frames. Parker Strebel's two-run double in the second was the backbreaker.

After the final out was recorded, Davis' only concern was that wounded right hand. He wrapped his arms around catcher Mickey Chupek and held on for protection as the Royals piled up near the mound. Some photographs will show Davis raising his right arm in an effort to avoid contact with his teammates' metal spikes.

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RIVERSIDE -- The eight-year-old school with a five-year-old baseball program has its first section title.

Firebaugh of Lynwood upset top-seeded Hillcrest Christian of Granada Hills, 5-4, to capture the CIF-Southern Section Division 7 championship Saturday morning at UC Riverside, bagging a feat many schools take decades to accomplish. The Falcons scored their runs in the first three innings.

It was quite an unlikely playoff run for Firebaugh, which had been ranked sixth in the final coaches' poll. But the Falcons turned on the switch when it mattered, winning its playoff games by scores of 9-1, 23-1 and 8-0 before defeating second-seeded New Roads 4-3 in the semifinals.

Anthony Rios, Armando Murillo and Francisco Miranda each had two hits for Firebaugh, which finished second in the Harbor League this season. Rios closed it out with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Pitcher Josh Clark went the distance for Hillcrest Christian, allowing 10 hits in six innings. Offensively, he had three of his team's five hits.

Baseball: Glendora upsets Cypress in Div. 2

May, 22, 2012
Senior pitcher Wyatt Wood tossed his first complete game of the season Tuesday afternoon to help Glendora upset fourth-seeded Cypress, 5-2, in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 baseball playoffs.

Wood, who has dealt with control issues in his first true year as a pitcher, gave up a two-run homer in the first inning but was spectacular the rest of the way. He responded with a two-run blast of his own in the bottom half of the inning.

"What he did was special," Glendora head coach Dan Henley said.

Glendora (18-9), which finished in a tie for first place in the Baseline League, will face Trabuco Hills on Friday. Cypress (25-7) became the latest team to fall in an upset -- top-seeded Harvard-Westlake also stumbled, losing 3-1 to Placentia Valencia.

"We knew we'd have to play all facets of the game to be competitive," Henley said. "We're a young team and I'd hate to use the term 'rebuilding' but this was a game our kids were looking forward to. ... [Wood] picked a great time to shine."

Mission Viejo keeps repeat hopes alive

May, 22, 2012
Anthony ShewBlair Angulo for ESPN.comAnthony Shew found his groove again in leading Mission Viejo over Damien

LA VERNE -- The pitcher with the funky delivery picked the right time to snap out of his funk.

Mission Viejo right-hander Anthony Shew had been knocked around in recent weeks, failing to fool opponents with his uncommon throwing motion. The senior seemed to recapture his deceptiveness in a complete-game effort Tuesday afternoon, leading the Diablos to a 9-1 victory over Damien in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 baseball playoffs.

Defending section champion Mission Viejo advanced to the quarterfinals, where it will meet second-seeded Pacifica of Garden Grove on Friday.

Shew had been tagged for 35 hits over his last four starts but gave up just five -- all singles -- on Tuesday. The lone run Damien mustered came in the first inning. Shew struck out six and closed the door by retiring the last seven batters in order.

"It's great to see him bounce back," said senior first baseman Mitch Holland, whose three-run double in the fourth broke the game open. "He's one of my best friends and I know how hard it is on him when he doesn't pitch well."

Holland continued his torrid hitting. He had a pair of three-run home runs in a first-round win last week and, on Tuesday, extended his hot streak.

"He's a big, strong kid. He's been a three-year varsity player and a team leader," Mission Viejo head coach Chris Ashbach said. "He's the nicest kid in the world, so I couldn't be happier to see this happening for him right now."

Holland's bases-clearing rocket to dead center field knocked out Damien starting pitcher Grant Hockin, a highly regarded sophomore who has already verbally committed to play at UCLA. Hockin had beaten Mission Viejo, 3-0, in a tournament game at Chino last month.

"I've been hot lately and looking for the fastball early," Holland said. "He left the ball out over the plate after working me in and out really hard. I hit it hard and luckily it dropped."

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Moore League bounced from playoffs

May, 18, 2012
Friday's first round was cruel to the Moore League baseball teams.

League champion Long Beach Poly, seeded fourth in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 bracket, was upset at home by Huntington Beach, 2-1, despite left-hander Chris Castellanos' complete-game effort. The Jackrabbits loaded the bases in the last inning but Jeff Turley lined out to left field.

Second-place Lakewood, meanwhile, dropped a 2-0 decision to Marina. And Long Beach Wilson, behind top MLB Draft prospect Chase DeJong, fell at Newbury Park, 3-0.

They say the postseason is an entirely different monster. Poly, Lakewood and Wilson -- which combined for a 72-19 regular-season record -- now know the saying all too well.

Keppel baseball team forfeits playoff win

May, 18, 2012
The Alhambra Keppel baseball team has forfeited its wild-card round win over Hawthorne in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs due to an ineligible player, the section office announced Friday. The player in question, according to the office, transferred from another school without filing proper paperwork. Hawthorne, which had dropped a 4-2 decision Tuesday, will play at Elsinore in Wildomar on Saturday afternoon.

Keppel, which according to the Pasadena Star-News reached the playoffs for the first time in nearly two decades, could potentially forfeit all of its wins, depending on the number of games the ineligible player appeared in.

"It’s always unfortunate and extremely difficult when a school has to forfeit any contest," commissioner of athletics Rob Wigod said. "It is made that much more so when it is a playoff game. However, CIF Southern Section rules are in place for a reason and part of being a member in this organization is adhering to those rules."

France leads South Hills with arm and bat

May, 17, 2012
Ty FranceBlair Angulo/For ESPNLA.comTy France pitched a complete game and knoncked in three runs for South Hills on Thursday.

WEST COVINA -- An electric right arm. A compact swing. A keenness for high-stress situations.

Senior Ty France of South Hills put all of his skills on display Thursday afternoon, leading the Huskies to a 4-0 victory against visiting Upland in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 baseball playoffs. France, a San Diego State signee, struck out 11 in a complete-game effort and also drove in three runs.

By the way France looked, you'd never guess it was only his second start of the season.

"I didn't expect him to go seven innings and shut them out. It's just a great effort on his part," South Hills head coach Kevin Smith said. "He's a bulldog. I wish I had 15 of him."

France has been on varsity for four years, experiencing sudden success as a freshman on a South Hills squad that captured the section title. He's a known commodity in the San Gabriel Valley, a slick-fielding shortstop who doubles as his team's closer. Smith, though, wanted his best curveball thrower on the mound against an Upland lineup that scored 22 runs in the wild-card round earlier in the week.

"I love pitching," France said. "I love getting out there and controlling the game."

France did that and more, scattering six hits and walking only two, one of them intentional. He helped his own cause at the plate with a pair of two-out RBI singles, putting South Hills (18-7) up early. UCLA signee Daniel Robertson had half of Upland's hits in his final high school game.

"Getting those two early runs helped a lot," France said.

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South: Baseball playoff seeds

May, 14, 2012

The seeded teams in south Los Angeles County:

Div. 1: No. 4 Long Beach Poly (24-6)
Div. 2: None
Div. 3: No. 1 Bonita (26-2), No. 3 Alhambra (20-3)
Div. 4: No. 2 La Salle (18-7-1), No. 4 Bishop Amat (19-9)
Div. 5: No. 2 L.A. Cathedral (21-5), No. 4 Gardena Serra (20-4)
Div. 6: No. 4 Pasadena Poly (16-5)
Div. 7: No. 2 Santa Monica New Roads (14-5)

Wild-card games will be held Tuesday and first-round games on Friday.

Baseball: Poly takes Moore League title

May, 11, 2012
Moore League baseball juggernauts Lakewood and Long Beach Wilson were expected to duke it out for the top spot this season, but Long Beach Poly spoiled the party.

Xavier Lavelle's walk-off two run double in the bottom of the 12th inning led the Jackrabbits to a 2-1 win against Wilson on Thursday night, giving Poly sole possession of the league title for the first time since 1968. Wilson star pitcher Chase DeJong threw 10 innings of no-hit ball and hit a leadoff triple in the top of the 12th that led to the Bruins' go-ahead run.

Poly (24-6, 11-1) entered the week ranked fourth in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 poll. Wilson (23-7, 9-3) was eighth and Lakewood (25-6, 10-2) ninth.

The CIF-Southern Section playoff pairings will be released Monday at 12:30 p.m.

Serra's Smith scorching at the plate

May, 1, 2012
Gardena Serra junior Dominic Smith is proving why he's one of the most feared hitters in the state.

Through 19 games, Smith is batting .596 (34 for 57) with six home runs and 40 RBIs. The left-hander is also 5-0 as a pitcher, compiling 41 strikeouts and a 1.48 ERA in 28 1/3 innings pitched.

Smith is verbally committed to USC.

Serra is 15-4 and ranks No. 3 in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 poll.

Baseball roundup: Poly beats Lakewood

April, 24, 2012
It has been quite a week for Long Beach Poly pitcher Chris Castellanos. It began with a perfect game against Long Beach Wilson and ended Tuesday night a dramatic win against Moore League top dog Lakewood, the 34th-ranked team in the nation according to ESPNHS.

Castellanos went the distance in Tuesday's gut-wrenching 3-2 victory at Blair Field. The junior left-hander escaped a bases-loaded jam in the final inning. Last week Castellanos beat Wilson's Chase DeJong and this week he beat Lakewood's Shane Watson. Both DeJong and Watson have signed to play at USC next fall.

With the victory, Poly remained in the hunt for the Moore League title, improving to 7-1 in league and 19-4 overall. Lakewood is also 7-1 in league and 22-4 overall.

Other notable baseball action in south Los Angeles County:
  • For the first time in school history, Pasadena La Salle beat Bishop Amat, 7-6. Bishop Amat, the defending CIF-Southern Section Division 4 champs, blew a five-run lead and dropped only its second league game since joining the Del Rey League in 2007. La Salle (14-6-1, 6-1) and Amat (14-8, 8-1) face off again on Friday at Citrus College, with the winner gaining the upper hand in the league title race.
  • Bonita improved to 21-1 with a 4-1 win against Thousand Oaks. The Bearcats are the top-ranked team in Division 3.