OC Top 10 (5/1/17)


With the playoffs fast approaching teams are jockeying for post season positioning with some huge games still to be played. 

Last week saw some surprising results while the top team in the county continues to roll. 

Below is how I voted in this weeks OC Top 10. 

1. Huntington Beach: The Oilers are the best team in the county. Can Hagen Danner win County Pitcher of the Year and MVP? 

2. El Dorado: Aside from HB nobody is playing better than the Golden Hawks right now. 

3. Mission Viejo: The Diablos have a streak stopping ace in Tanner Bibee, and junior Will Levine should take that role next year. 

4. El Toro: The Chargers are deep on the mound, if there offense clicks these last couple weeks look out. 

5. JSerra: Coach Kay is doing a phenomenal job this season with the Lions. It hasn’t been easy, but with two series left they’re right there in the Trinity League. 

6. Servite: after winning their first ever series against OLu, the Friars have their biggest week of the season as they face Bosco three times. 

7. OLu: despite losing a series to Servite, the Lancers can still make a playoff push with two series remaining. 

8. Mater Dei: the Monarchs will be tested these final two weeks, will their pitching help them pass? 

9. CdM: what a response after losing to a very good Woodbridge team. Consistency will be the key for their pitching. 

10. Beckman: the Patriots keep winning and  hanging around in the PCL. They have the depth the postseason requires. 

Others:

Woodbridge

Dana Hills

Cypress

Foothill

Los Alamitos

OC Top 10 (4/24/17)


It was a great week of baseball last week with some quality league games and the playing of the fifth annual Boras Classic. Most teams held serve in terms of rankings, others moved in the polls. 

Below is how I voted in the OC Top 10 this week. 

1. Huntington Beach: The Oilers won the south bracket of the Boras Classic last week. Hagen Danner was on another level. 

2. Orange Lutheran: the Lancers ended in third place of the Boras Classic going 3-1. Head back into league against Servite this week. 

3. El Toro: the Chargers got a phenomenal pitching effort from Jake Jackson in the opening round of the Boras Classic where they went 3-1. They’re in a good spot heading back into league. 

4. Mater Dei: The Monarchs also went 3-1 in the Boras Classic and got a big boost from the return of Emilio Rosas. They also unveiled a future star in 6’8″ pitcher Hunter Cope. 

5. El Dorado: the Golden Hawks just keep winning. Kyle Luckham is having a pitcher-of-the-year type season. Lucky for him he’s a junior giving him a chance to win it next year. 

6. Mission Viejo: the Diablos are cooling off a little bit, but with their pitching they’ll always have a chance to win games. 

7: Corona del Mar: the Sea Kings are in the drivers seat in the always-tough Pacific Coast League. Preston Hartsell is beginning to find his groove. 

8. Beckman: the Patriots appear to be snapping out of their rough patch. Coach Lavalle is one of the best in Orange County. 

9. Servite: the Friars had the week off and will face #2 Orange Lutheran in a huge three-game series this week. Winner is still alive in league. The loser, not so much. 

10: Sage Hill: Coach Campeau probably wishes Chona could pitch every game. The sophomore collected his fourth no-hitter of the season last week. 

Others:

Crean Lutheran

Capo Valley

Canyon

Cypress

Laguna Beach

Woodbridge

Boras Classic Championship Set


The championship game of the Boras Classic south bracket is set as Huntington Beach will face defending Boras Classic state champ Mira Costa tomorrow at JSerra at 6:00 PM. 

The winner of the south bracket will face north bracket winner Bellarmine Prep of San Jose in the state championship game on May 6th at UCLA. 

Huntington Beach advanced to the finals with an 11-9 win over Santiago. 

Josh Hahn pitched five innings with three   strikeouts while only giving up two hits and allowing one earned run. He was also 2-for-2 with an RBI and a walk at the plate. 

Hagen Danner continued his impressive week with a solo home run, an RBI single and two runs scored. 

Ben McConnell blew the game open for Huntington Beach with a three-run home run in top of the third giving the Oilers a 5-2 lead. 

Trevor Windisch and Corey Moore went back-to-back homers in the fourth to put the game out of reach. 

Santiago added two in the fifth and five in the seventh. 

In other semifinal action, Mira Costa beat Orange Lutheran 3-1 to advance to the championship game. 

The Mustangs got a great pitching performance from Jesse Storey who went six innings allowing two hits while striking out five and giving up one run. 

Bash Alexiades was the offensive star for the Mustangs as he was 3-for-4. Jared Karros added an RBI for the Mustangs who seem to have found their stride in the tournament after coming scuffling a bit. 

Merrick Baldo pitched two shutout innings of relief as the Mustangs move to their second straight south bracket championship game. 

Boras Classic Semis Set


Orange Lutheran advanced to the semifinals of the Boras Classic with a 6-5 win against a pesky El Toro team. 

The Lancers scored three in the fourth to tie the score at four before adding two more runs in the sixth and holding for the win. 

Zach Busalachi was impressive in four innings of relief for Orange Lutheran who spoiled a pretty impressive outing by Eric Tolman of El Toro. 

Brandon Aventino was 1-for-2 with two RBI, a walk and two runs scored. 

Tyler Lasch led the way for El Toro going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. 

The Lancers will face off against reigning Boras Classic champs Mira Costa who beat a streaking Vista Murrieta 3-0 in a game at JSerra. 

The two teams will play at JSerra Thursday at 6:00 PM. 

Mira Costa plated three runs in the fourth after two walks to start the inning and base hits from Chase Meidroth and Jared Karros. 

Joey Acosta gave the Mustangs a great outing going six strong innings with three strikeouts. 

It’s a big win for Mira Costa who came into the tournament scuffling and defeated one of the hottest teams on the Souhland. 

On the other side of the bracket Huntington Beach looks like the best team in tournament. Of course it helps to have two potential first rounders start the first two games of the tournament. 

Hagen Danner was magnificent in his outing today striking out 10 in six innings pitched. For good measure he added a no-doubter home run to left field. 

Logan Pollock was a bright spot for Notre Dame as he hit his second home run for the Knights. 

The Oilers will square off against Santiago who defeated host Mater Dei 8-4 in the final quarterfinal game. 

The two teams will play at Mater Dei on Thursday at 6:00 PM. 

Cruz Barrios was brilliant for the Sharks as he went 4.2 innings with six strikeouts abd four hits. On offense Jacob Shanks was the star going 3-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored. 

Brice Turang, Cole Cummings, Casey Dykstra, and Jacob Thornburg all added RBI for the Sharks. 

Max Foxcroft 1-for-2 RBI, and Emilio Rosas 2-for-4 two RBI were standouts while Blake Hunt homered for the Monarchs. 

Notre Dame Moves On At Boras Classic

Freshman Lucas Gordon pitched a gem for Notre Dame as he led the Knights to a first round victory in the Boras Classic. 

Sitting 84-86 with his fastball and showing good feel for the changeup, the southpaw kept a scuffling Aliso Niguel offense off balance throughout the game en route to a complete game shutout. 

Gordon had a perfect game into the fourth before yielding an infield single to Connor Kokx. It was the only hit the freshman would allow in the game.

Hunter Greene got the Knights on the board in the third when he drove in two runs with a line drive through the box to give the Knights a lead they would not relinquish.

In the fourth, Logan Pollock, a Michigan signee, added a solo home run in the fourth inning to make it 3-0. 

In the sixth, freshman Noah Taylor laced a two-run standup triple to right center field that caromed around the outfield. He would score on a sac fly by Greene to make it 6-0 Knights. 

The Knights will next play tomorrow at JSerra at 3:00 PM. They will face the winner of the Huntington Beach – Damien game.

2017 Boras Classic Preview

The 5th annual Boras Classic is back in SoCal this week with the event running Tuesday, April 18th through Friday, April 21st. JSerra and Mater Dei will once again serve as host sites for what has quickly become on the top tournaments in the country from a prospect and competition standpoint.

The winner of the south bracket will face Bellarmine Prep of San Jose in the State Championship on May 6th at site that is to be determined.

Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach is the defending champion having defeated Davis High School in the state final game at Cal Berkeley last May.

This years incarnation of the southern tournament features five players that are widely considered Top 75 MLB Draft prospects led by Hunter Greene of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, who many considered the potential number one overall pick. Royce Lewis (JSerra), Nick Pratto (Huntington Beach), Hagen Danner (Huntington Beach) and Garret Mitchell (Orange Lutheran) are all expected to be taken in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft in June.

There are other players who will likely be selected in this years draft as well. Players like Jeremiah Priddy (Corona), Sam Glick (El Toro), Jayson Gonzalez (Bishop Amat), and Isaiah Paige (Damien) are just a few of the “other” prospects scouts will be tracking this week.

In addition to the marquee prospects playing this week, the Boras Classic has always been about having top teams from the region and this year is no different as 10 of the 16 participating teams are either in first place or share first place in their respective leagues.

With that said, let’s take a look at the first round matchups.

Corona vs El Toro –  @ JSerra 9:00 AM

In a matchup we generally are exposed to in the postseason, this game features two of the hottest teams in SoCal to kick off the tournament.

Corona comes into the Boras Classic winners of 8 of-their-last 10 and in the mix in the BigVIII League with a 6-3 record. El Toro has won 9 of-their-last 10 including wins over Gahr, a double header sweep of Mater Dei (both in the Boras Classic) and a big league win over Mission Viejo. The Chargers have a one-game lead in the South Coast League.

For Corona, the Panthers are getting incredible pitching from seniors Jeremiah Priddy, Michael Hobbs and Brenden Beck that lead a staff that carries a 2.11 ERA on the season. Meanwhile, El Toro has their own Big Three in Sam Glick, Jake Jackson, and Noah Fluman. All six players are committed to Division I schools.

This game could come down to the team that makes the least mistakes and with a 9:00 AM start – and dozens of scouts in attendance – there will be plenty of nerves.

Orange Lutheran vs Gahr – @ JSerra 12:00 PM

Two teams that are pretty familiar with each other from having played several fall/winter games against one another over the last few years, the noon game will give pro scouts their first look of the week at Garret Mitchell of Orange Lutheran.

The Lancers were riding high after winning the NHSI two weeks ago before coming back into Trinity League play and being swept by St. John Bosco. Adding to the frustration for OLu was the loss of Jasiah Dixon, a speedy outfielder who will likely be a high draft pick when he’s eligible.

After starting 2-8, the Gahr Gladiators have gone 6-1 since aided by some league games. Outfielder JeVon Ward has seen his stock dip a little bit, but should still have the opportunity to have his name called in the upcoming MLB Draft. Junior Shortstop Mikey Perez is a very advanced player and one who has the attention of scouts.

On paper this is a game OLu should roll, but as we know the game isn’t played on paper.

Chatsworth vs Vista Murrieta – @ JSerra 3:00 PM

The best team in the City Section goes against the best team in the Temecula area.

Chatsworth hasn’t lost in one month, a streak of 14 games. Vista Murrieta has won 8 of-their-last 10. This is a matchup of strength against strength with Vista Murrietas offense against Chatsworth’s pitching. The Broncos have seven hitters batting over .325 while the Chancellors have four pitchers with at least four wins led by Thomas Gutierrez who sits at 7-0.

Vista Murrieta is making their fifth appearance in the Boras Classic, while Chatsworth is making their third appearance, meaning the moment won’t be too big for either.

If this is a Brandon Ross (VM) against Thomas Gutierrez (Chatsworth) pitching matchup, scouts will have plenty to pay attention too.

Mira Costa vs JSerra – @ JSerra 6:00 PM

The final game of Day One of the Boras Classic will give scouts what they came to see in the form of Royce Lewis of JSerra.

JSerra is coming off the National Classic in which they played in the championship game. After a slow start it appears the Lions have begun to gain some momentum, and with the quirky schedule of the Trinity League, JSerra has plenty of matchups left in league to make some noise. For that to happen, the Lions are going to need players like David Le Bioda, Colin Townsend, and Michael Curialle to break out offensively.

Mira Costa is the defending Boras Classic State Champion, but the Mustangs are defending their title without a lot of key parts from last years team. Sitting at 10-7, Mira Costa has lost 5 of-their-last 7 games with four of them by two runs or more.

Notre Dame vs Aliso Niguel – @ Mater Dei 9:00 AM

Notre Dame comes into the Boras Classic as one of the favorites having won 9 of-their-last 10 games and vaulting to a first place position in the always tough Mission League. The Knights are proving to be more than a one-man show although scouts will all be at this game to see that one man. Hunter Greene is expected to be off the draft board by the third pick overall in June, but it appears he is taking the role of mentor very seriously. Freshman Lucas Gordon (4) and sophomore Carter Kessinger (3) have combined for 7 wins with zero losses on the mound. Kessinger is also batting .500 on the season.

Despite having a talented roster, Aliso Niguel limps into the Boras Classic with an 8-9 record with losses in 4 of-their-last 6 games. The Wolverines are getting good pitching from Ethan Hoopingarner (0.44 ERA) and Hunter Ash (1.35 ERA), but seem to be scuffling at the plate where they’re hitting .240 as a team and on defense where they’ve committed 23 errors.

Aliso Niguel has nothing to lose in this tournament and everything to gain. They’re young and very talented and a strong showing in this event can be the type of boost that springs them into a big second half of league.

Damien vs Huntington Beach – @ Mater Dei 12:00 PM

Scouts will have just enough time to grab a quick snack before assuming their positions once again for this game which features both Hagen Danner of Nick Pratto. The pair of teammates are familiar with the swarm of scouts at their games, so the setting shouldn’t be anything unusual for them and their teammates. The same can not be said for Damien who lost many of their talented roster from last years playoff run.

Isaiah Paige is arguably the Spartans best prospect and he’ll have a great opportunity to show scouts the improvement and development he’s made on the mound in recent months. The Michigan commit is also a legitimate outfield prospect.

Huntington Beach is the best team in Orange County for a reason. It helps to have two future first round talents, but the Oilers have a pair of sophomores – Josh Hahn and Garrett Runyan – who could develop into MLB Draft picks in due time. They also have depth at just about every position.

This tournament sets up nicely for Huntington Beach who had a less-than-standard performance at the NHSI a couple weeks ago.

Corona Santiago vs Bishop Amat – @ Mater Dei 3:00 PM

Bishop Amat is riding high after winning the National Classic last week while Corona Santiago comes in one the heels of a big non-league win over Vista Murrieta. These two teams have loaded rosters as usual which will be a treat for fans in attendance.

Bishop Amat features shortstop Jayson Gonzalez a Vanderbilt commit that will likely have to make a decision between college and pro ball this year. Santiago has unquestionably the best middle infielder in the country in next years draft class in Brice Turang who is committed to LSU.

These teams are more than those individuals though. Bishop Amat features Isaac Esqueda on the mound and Jesus Maldonado behind the plate. Both are very talented players that will thrive on the next level. Santiago is built for the future as they have only three seniors in their starting lineup. Jacob Shanks, Taylor Steig, and Cole Jordan are all players college coaches and pro scouts will notice.

La Mirada vs Mater Dei – @ Mater Dei 6:00 PM

Third-year head coach Jimmy Zurn took over a La Mirada program he was very familiar with. After having starred for the Mats and coached under legendary coach Kim Brooks, Zurn was tasked with taking the program to the next level. Well, consider their participation in the Boras Classic a good first step.

The Mats feature two big-time seniors in RJ Lan, a TCU signee, and Kevin Kendall, a UCLA signee. They also have seven regulars batting over .300 on the season. Seniors Eddie Salcido and David Olson are a perfect 12-0 on the mound, while freshman Jared Jones may be the best freshman pitcher in the Southland.

For Mater Dei it’s business as usual. Despite their 10-6 overall record, the Monarchs stand in second place in the brutal Trinity League with series against the top four teams remaining giving them the opportunity to control their own destiny.

Jonathan Schiffer, a Washington signee, is having the type of senior season we all anticipated when we saw him as a freshman. The right handed pitcher is 4-0, 1.17 ERA while also hitting .388 when not pitching. As a team the Monarchs are hitting .310 and feature a 2.21 team ERA. In other words, just another Burt Call coached team.

For the complete brackets, click here.

–Les Lukach
Email me at socalhsbaseball@gmail.com

RJ’s Legacy, More Than a Game.

RJ Gonzales was born with a bad heart that required open heart surgery a few days after birth. The scar that remained never defined limitation or weakness. Instead, the scar provided motivation and determination for the boy who dreamed of playing baseball on big league diamonds as a man.

Gonzales grew up playing on the baseball fields across the San Gabriel Valley with other kids who are living out their dream of playing professional baseball. And while RJ did not have the talent of his peers, his work ethic, passion, and dedication to overcome his physical weakness is what kept him committed to playing the game he loved the most.  

When he moved to Huntington Beach before his freshman year of high school, RJ was determined to play baseball and run cross country. He made both teams. Not only did he make both teams, he was named the Runner of the Year for his cross country team. He didn’t earn that due to his race results, he earned it because he never gave up despite having a medical condition no other teammate had.

After a successful cross country season, RJ had all the motivation he needed heading into the spring baseball season.

The diminutive freshman was the type of player who would play any position you asked him. He was a baseball rat. Never one to pout about not being able to do something the other kids were doing, RJ was a dedicated teammate no matter how he felt. On any given day RJ had to work three times as hard as average players just to be able to compete with them.

That dedication was not lost on his teammates. It’s what made him loved by everyone he came in contact with.

As the start of his freshman baseball season neared, the anticipation of playing in the storied program at Edison High School was building.

Tragedy struck on a warm spring day in March of 2009. RJ was swimming when his heart had an episode that would ultimately claim his life. The loss of life is always heartbreaking. When that life is of a boy just transitioning into manhood who has battled and overcome so much in life, it’s tragic.

Almost immediately those closest to RJ went to work on developing a foundation and doing something to honor the memory of the young man who had touched so many lives in such a short period of time.

In addition to starting the RJ Foundation, what they came up with was the RJ Legacy Baseball Games. What started as a game in 2010 between South Hills and Bishop Amat, has evolved into the unofficial kickoff to the high school spring baseball season in the San Gabriel Valley.

This years version of the event will take place on Saturday, February 20th at Maverick Field in West Covina. The event has evolved into a double-header in baseball and will also feature a triple-header in softball to held at South Hills High School.

On the baseball side, Walnut will take on San Dimas at 2:30pm followed by Bishop Amat against South Hills at 6:00pm.

The softball games are: South Hills vs Walnut (11:00am), Bishop Amat vs Walnut (1:00pm), and Bishop Amat vs South Hills (3:00pm).

The RJ Legacy games started as a baseball only event and that tradition is deep. Past MVP’s include Rio Ruiz, Peter Lambert, and Gavin Velasquez. Ruiz and Lambert are former high MLB draft picks, and Velasquez kicks off his freshman campaign for Cal State Fullerton this weekend.

Ultimately, the RJ Legacy games are a celebration of the life of a young man who touched so many in his short time on earth. It also serves a wonderful reminder of how baseball has the ability to bring complete strangers together for a game they are passionate about.

–Les Lukach