Reliever Andrew Bellatti impresses again for Rays

By Marc Topkin, Staff Writer
Courtesy Tampa Bay Times

MINNEAPOLIS (5-22-15) — Rookie RHP ANDREW BELLATTI, former Steele Canyon standout, impressed again Saturday in his second solid outing since his unexpected call-up to the Tampa Bay Rays.

And though the end result was being sent back to Triple-A Durham, as the Rays are activating infielder Nick Franklin off the disabled list, Bellatti certainly showed worthy of further opportunity.

"He came up here and did everything he could possibly do to showcase himself really well," manager Kevin Cash said. "I would definitely envision (that) he put himself in that mix when we need arms."

Bellatti, 23, who got the win in his May 9 debut, came on in the fourth Saturday with the Rays down 3-1 and kept it there, working 2 2/3 scoreless innings, most impressive in the sixth when he allowed a walk and a double then struck out the next three.

"I've just tried to kind of come in and go for it," Bellatti said. "Not really hold anything back, not really shy away from anyone. I feel like I've held my own pretty well."

Holder named WCC Player of the Year

By Chris Davis
© East County
SAN BRUNO (5-21-15) — Former Grossmont College shortstop KYLE HOLDER (University City/Grossmont College) was awarded the West Coast Conference Player of the Year award on Wednesday (May 20). Holder and JESSE JENNER are both former Griffins to be playing for the WCC Coach of the Year Rich Hill for the 2015 WCC regular season champions.

Holder led the Toreros with a .357 average over his 213 at bats while playing in all 52 games this season. Kyle was second on the team with 13 doubles to go along with a pair of triples and a trio of home runs. Holder was involved in 25 of the 34 double plays that USD turned this season.

Jenner (Steele Canyon/Grossmont College) was third this regular season on the Toreros in batting average in slightly limited play this season. The senior catcher hit .327 (48-147) in a limited 41 games (39 starts) for the Blue and White. Jenner was slow to start this season due to injuries he sustained at the end of summer ball last year. The two time All-East County member had 10 extra base hits with 35 RBI. Defensively, Jenner threw out over a quarter of runners attempting to steal against him.

USD (32-20, 19-8 WCC) is the top seed in this weekend’s WCC tournament being held at Banner Island Ballpark on the Stockton riverfront. Banner Island Ballpark is celebrating its 10th anniversary season this year and is the home of the Stockton Ports (Oakland A’s affiliate) of the California League.

Astros' Musgrove turns the page

Right-hander dominating with River Bandits after rocky start to career

By Curt Rallo
Special to East County

Joe Musgrove was drafted by the Blue Jays with the 46th overall
pick in 2011. (Paul R. Gierhart/

This is the way it was supposed to be: JOE MUSGROVE, a supplemental first-round selection (46th overall) in the 2011 Draft, overpowering the competition.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound right-hander and former Grossmont High standout is off to a 3-1 start with the Quad Cities River Bandits. Now 22, he owns a brilliant 0.87 ERA, striking out 20 and walking only one in 20 2/3 innings.

But an arduous journey kept Musgrove in short-season leagues for the first four years of his pro career. Injuries took a toll on Musgrove, who was drafted by the Blue Jays and then traded to the Astros in 2012. Expectations became burdens, not goals. Doubt loomed.

"Being a first-rounder in 2011, I'm obviously not where I should be, or where people expected me to be," Musgrove said. "It bothered me for a while. I felt like I let down myself, my family. I felt like I wasn't giving the Blue Jays or Astros what they paid for, what they expected."

In October, Musgrove underwent reconstructive collar-bone surgery. During his rehab, he built up his body and his resolve.

"I did a lot of thinking, and I realized everyone's book is written a different way," Musgrove said. "Some people's books are 10 pages, and some are 10 chapters. I just have a few extra pages in my book.

"I battled injuries for a while. I hope I have those out of the way. I learned a lot from the injuries. I learned how to take care of my body better, and how to maintain myself throughout a season, how to pace myself. I learned a lot about my body. I wouldn't have planned it this way, but I also wouldn't change it for anything."

Having endured the hottest fires of adversity, Musgrove has forged a steely demeanor that has him displaying the Major League talent that earned him a first-round selection.

"Joe is not the first guy for that to happen to," Quad Cities pitching coach Dave Borkowski said of Musgrove struggling with high expectations. "There's a lot of pressure for a young kid being drafted in the first round. He's expected to move fast. He's expected to dominate at every level. You see that happen to young kids, to put big expectations on themselves and falter.

"I think Joe has finally gotten to that mature point where he takes care of himself and does what he can do within his parameters, and he's learned to do that very well. Now he's living up to his expectations, by doing it his way."

Borkowski sees Musgrove's mental toughness in his performances and in between starts. He displays intensity and focus in his sidework and fielding drills. His passion and focus carries over into the game.

"Joe is off to a very good start," Borkowski said. "I think the thing that sticks out most ... he has one walk in 20 innings. He's aggressive, he pounds the zone, he has three-plus pitches that he'll throw at any time. The best thing is -- he's got fire in him. He wants to go out there and compete and do the best for his team each and every day."

Musgrove is throwing in the 90-to-96 mph range this season. He handcuffs batters with a hard slider and a lethal changeup. Not having to re-invent himself as a pitcher is critical in an important season for Musgrove.

"Being my Rule 5 year, I understand that this is a big deciding year where my career goes," Musgrove said. "I did a lot of mental work this offseason, along with the physical training and rehab to get myself ready, knowing that I'm going to be going through a full season of 142 games. That's something I'm not used to. That's a big mental and physical obstacle to go through -- will my arm hold up? Can I get through a full season?"

Mental training that incorporated tenets of martial arts has enabled Musgrove to develop a pitcher's vision.

"I'm able to focus on the task at hand," Musgrove said. "It allows me to stay in the moment and not get emotionally attached to one pitch or one at-bat."

Musgrove's focus on the present, rather than his past, has him on a path to a brilliant future.

"It's been hard," Musgrove said. "There were plenty of times I wanted to get angry that I wasn't moving, that I wasn't healthy. I just stuck to the process and understood this was part of a plan. It allowed me to sit back and absorb everything, instead of being angry about where I was, and not being somewhere else. Right now, I'm taking it game by game and listening to my body."

Sixteen years after being named the CIF-San Diego Section Division II Player of the Year
at Monte Vista High, Brooks Conrad slugged his first home run as a member of the Padres.
(San Diego Padres courtesy photo)
Remember When...
Brooks Conrad belted a pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam off a defenders' glove for Atlanta in 2010. VIDEO

LOCAL PROS: Conrad belts first homer with Padres

© East County
SAN DIEGO (7-7-14) — Former Monte Vista High standout BROOKS CONRAD, who was added to the San Diego Padres' 40-man roster Wednesday (July 2), belted his first career home run for his hometown team in Sunday's (July 6) setback to the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park.

Conrad homered in the 7th inning off Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, who fired a no-hitter against the Padres just 11 days ago. Conrad took the ball out to right-center field to make it 3-1 and end Lincecum's shutout streak against San Diego.

Conrad was signed after an injury to shortstop Everth Cabrera, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring suffered in Monday's game with Cincinnati.

With only three infielders on the big league roster, the Padres elected to purchase the contract of the journeyman third baseman from Triple-A El Paso, where Conrad has a slash line of .275/.347/.526 with 18 homers, tied for second most in the Pacific Coast League.

Conrad played the 2013 season in Japan . He debuted in the Majors with Oakland in 2008, then spent three years in the Braves organization.

At Monte Vista, Conrad was the CIF-San Diego Section Division II Player of the Year in 1998. He was also a two-time member of the All-East County team (1997-98).

SDSU bullpen ace Michael Cederoth
(Baseball America courtesy photo)
Brooks named All-Mountain West

© East County
RENO, Nev. (6-13-14) — Granite Hills High alum TRENTON BROOKS was named to the 2014 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American team. In addition he was selected to the 2014 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Freshman All-American second team.

Brooks put together an outstanding freshman season, playing baseball for the University of Nevada in the Mountain West Conference.

An outfielder, Brooks batted .330 overall and .347 in MWC play. He banged out 62 hits, scored 23 runs, hit three home runs and logged 35 RBI.

He was selected to the MWC All-Conference second team, and during the MWC playoffs he was named to the MWC All-Tournament team.

Another All-America award
for Aztecs ace Cederoth

© East County
SAN DIEGO (6-12-14) — Six-foot-6, 215-pound San Diego State junior right-hander MICHAEL CEDEROTH has garnered more honors. He was a second team All-America selection by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers’ Association.

A graduate of Steele Canyon High, Cederoth served as the Aztecs closer this year. He compiled a 6-2 record with 20 saves and a 2.28 ERA.

Cederoth was also named to the All-Mountain West Conference first team for the Aztecs, who finished the season 42-21.

Aztecs' Cederoth named first-team All-America by Collegiate Baseball

© East County
SAN DIEGO (5-30-14) — San Diego State pitcher MICHAEL CEDEROTH has been named first-team Louisville Slugger All-America by Collegiate Baseball newspaper.

Cederoth becomes the 13thmember of the Aztecs in program history to receive All-America honors and the fifth to be selected to a first-team squad.

Cederoth, a right-hander from Steele Canyon High, served as the Aztecs' closer as a junior this year after performing in a starting role his first two years at SDSU. In 2014 he has compiled a record of 6-2 with 20 saves and a 2.28 earned run average. He has struck out 55 batters over his 51.1 innings of work and foes are batting just .205 against him.

After starting the season opener (a loss) at San Jose State , Cederoth was moved to the bullpen where he became the Aztecs' closer. Since that loss on opening day, he has a record of 6-1 with a 1.89 earned run average along with his 20 saves. That save total equals the SDSU record set by Addison Reed, currently the closer for the Arizona Diamondbacks, in 2009.

He was named to the all-Mountain West first team after recording eight saves with a 2-1 record and a 2.08 earned run average in league contests. He led the conference in saves both overall and in league play and opponents his just .198 against him in league games. He is a two-time Mountain West Pitcher of the Week this season.

Cederoth named semifinalist for Dick Howser Trophy

© East County
SAN DIEGO (5-20-14) — San Diego State right-hander MICHAEL CEDEROTH has been named as one of 35 semifinalists for the 2014 Dick Howser Trophy, presented by Easton Foundations. The award, given to the top player in collegiate baseball, is based on two rounds of national voting.

In 28 appearances out of the bullpen since starting the season opener at San Jose State, Cederoth, a graduate of Steele Canyon, has compiled a record of 5-0 along with 19 saves and a 2.08 earned run average while recording 53 strikeouts over 46.2 innings pitched. His save total ranks third in the nation entering the week.

This is the 28th year of the Dick Howser Trophy presented by Easton Foundations. The finalists will be announced on Thursday, June 5. The 2014 award will be presented at TD Ameritrade Stadium in downtown Omaha , the home of the College World Series for the fourth year. The winner will be unveiled on Saturday, June 14 at 10 a.m. CT, the opening day of the 2014 CWS.

Cederoth is also on the watch list for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Stopper of the Year Award, presented annually to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball.

He follows in the footsteps of a pair of former Aztec hurlers. STEPHEN STRASBURG (West Hills) won the Dick Howser Trophy in 2009 while Addison Reed was named the NCBWA Stopper of the Year that same season.

Cederoth Earns Second MWC Pitcher of the Week Award

© East County
SAN DIEGO (5-13-14) — San Diego State junior right-hander MICHAEL CEDEROTH has been named the Mountain West Conference Pitcher of the Week for games played from May 5-11. It marks the second such honor of the season for Cederoth, a Steele Canyon High alum, who made three appearances out of the bullpen last week recording a win and a pair of saves.

At Long Beach State on Tuesday (May 6), Cederoth gave up an unearned run on an error that tied the game in the bottom of the 8th inning, but remained in the contest and picked up the win after his teammates rallied for three runs in the 9th. He ended the contest by striking out the final two batters.

Cederoth then recorded saves in each of the final two contests vs. UNLV this past weekend. On Saturday (May 10), he went the final 2.2 innings allowing just a walk. He had three strikeouts including on two of the final three hitters.

On Sunday (May 11), Cederoth tossed went the final 1.2 innings, allowing just one hit (the only one he allowed on the week), then got a double play grounder to end the contest.

Over his 6.2 innings for the week, Cederoth had a 0.00 earned run average with six strikeouts and opponents hit just .053 against him. The saves were his 18th and 19th of the season, moving within one of the Aztecs single-season record of 20 set by Addison Reed during the 2009 campaign.

San Diego State will close out its regular season with a three-game series at Fresno State this weekend. The Aztecs will then move on to the Mountain West Tournament hosted by UNLV May 21-25.

Foothills Christian alum Lewis
earns Gold Glove award

© East County
KANSAS CITY, Mo, (5-17-14) — Foothills Christian High graduate CODY LEWIS, a former catcher, finished his junior season at Avila University of the Heart of America Athletic Conference with a 1.000 fielding percentage in 20 chances, helping him earn the Rawlings Gold Glove Award as a pitcher.

On the hill Lewis finished with a 4-6 record and a 3.79 ERA in 61 2/3 innings. After moving to the mound from behind the plate, he also earned all-conference honorable mention honors for Avila.

Jenner named National player of the week

© East County
INDIANAPOLIS (4-7-14) — JESSE JENNER, a recent member of the San Diego Stars semipro baseball team, has been named the NCAA National Player of the Week, as selected by Collegiate Baseball.

Jenner, a catcher for the University of San Diego, was also named West Coast Conference player of the week.

The Steele Canyon High product turned in a remarkable week, hitting .769 (10-for-13) with one double, one home run and five RBI. His offense helped lead USD to a 4-0 record this past week, lifting the Toreros into second place in the WCC standings.

Jenner capped the week with a perfect 3-for-3 performance – including his first homer with the Toreros – to help USD complete the sweep against Gonzaga.

Potter doubles his pleasure
Sets SDSU record with four 2-base hits

© East County
SAN DIEGO (4-1-14) — Former Grossmont High standout EVAN POTTER established a San Diego State single-game record with four doubles, leading the Aztecs to a 12-4 decision over Santa Clara in Tuesday's (Mar. 25) non-conference game at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

Potter, a member of the All-East County team in 2010 while with the Foothillers, also drove in two runs and scored a pair in the shortstop's four plate appearances.

A.J. Jezierski
(Dennison Univ. photo)

Jezierski named to
NCAC all-decade team

© East County
GRANVILLE, Ohio (3-13-14) — ANDREW "A.J." JEZIERSKI, was recently selected to the North Coast Athletic Conference All-Decade Baseball Team for his efforts as a catcher at Denison University. Jezierski prepped at Valhalla High, graduating in 2002.

A four-year starter behind the plate as a catcher at Denison , Jezierski was named All-NCAC three times, including two first-team honors. He earned second-team Academic All-American laurels in 2006.

A first-team All-Mideast Region selection in 2006, Jezierski capped off his career with a .364 average after hitting a career-best .402 in 2006. He drove in 31 runs, hit 11 doubles, had two triples and a career best five home runs while leading Denison to a 25-15 record. In four years, Jezierski logged 161 hits, including 40 extra-base knocks. He also drove in 84 runs and scored 138 times. Jezierski still holds four school records.

As a result of this All-Region First Team selection in 2006, he competed as one of the six best small college catchers for All-American honors, and earned a free agent tryout with the San Diego Padres – to cap to a college career.

Conyers stays on roll, clouts walkoff homer in Top 25 battle

© East County
ALCALA PARK (3-13-14) — Former El Capitan High standout TROY CONYERS, the 2012 CIF San Diego Section player of the year, came through in the clutch in Tuesday's (Mar. 12) Top 25 showdown. VIDEO/INTERVIEW

Conyers, a sophomore, clouted a walk-off 2-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning, lifting the No. 24 USD Toreros past No. 8 Cal State Fullerton, 5-3, in a non-conference game at Fowler Park.

With two outs, Josh Goossen-Brown got things started with a single through the left side. Conyers then stepped to the plate, and sent a fastball over the right field fence to lift the Toreros (11-4) to victory, their third straight against a ranked opponent. Fullerton fell to 8-6.

Conyers garners WCC pitcher of the week laurels

© East County
SAN BRUNO (3-6-14) — University of San Diego pitcher TROY CONYERS, a product of El Capitan High, has been named the West Coast Conference pitcher of the week for the period ending Sunday (Mar. 2).

Conyers, a sophomore left-hander, posted a strong start against Baylor, helping the Toreros gain a berth in the Baseball America national rankings. Conyers carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Bears.

After surrendering a single, Conyers did not allow another hit for the remainder of this outing, as he racked up eight strikeouts, in picking up the first win of the season. Conyers managed to retired 10 of his final 11 batters he faced.

For the season, USD started 8-1 -- the second-best start in school history -- gaining a No. 24 rankings.

As a freshman, Conyers was tabbed MVP of the WCC Tournament, tossing a complete-game shutout over San Francisco in the championship game, recording nine strikeouts.

It's celebration time when Chico State captured the school's second national crown,
claming the 1999 NCAA Division II baseball championship in Montgomery, Ala.
(Chico State courtesy photo)
"Chris" Franco

© East County
LA JOLLA (2-14-14) — In an eerie coincidence, No.12 Chico State opened a weekend series at UC San Diego on Friday. The No. 39 Tritons took the CCAA opener, 8-1.

Local baseball standout killed on SR 125

© East County
SAN DIEGO (2-14-14, 6:22 p.m.) — A five-car accident on State Route 125 early this morning (Tue., Feb. 14) claimed the life of a local baseball standout.

CHRISTIAN "Chris" FRANCO, who just turned 37 on Tuesday, was killed when his vehicle was struck by another car in a pileup just before 2 a.m., closing the northbound lanes for more than five hours. CHP reported that the left side's of Franco's Jaguar was completely tore off. A woman driving another vehicle involved in the crash was arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Franco was a member of the Chico State University baseball team which captured the 1999 NCAA Division II national championship. He also was a starting left fielder for the San Diego Stars semipro baseball team, which finished in third place at the National Baseball Congress World Series that summer.

"Chris was a reak good ballplayer who was a happy, go-lucky guy," said Stars owner/manager MICKEY DUETSCHMAN. "He was friends with lots of the players, then remains friends and stayed on contact with them after he left the ballclun."

A product of Sweetwater High School, where he served as a team captain as a senior in 1996, Franco became an all-Pacific Coast Conference performer at Southwestern College in 1998, where he gained notice by Chico State coaches.

With the Wildcats, he became known as a clutch performer during their title run, batting .447 with runners in scoring position, including 9-for-10 with a runner at third base and less than two outs. After sharing the starting left field duties with two others in 1999, he became a full-time starter in 2000 at left and center field, plus designated hitter, finishing with a 343 career average (.497 slugging percentage), with three home runs.

Aztecs pitcher Cederoth
named preseaon All-America

© East County
SAN DIEGO (2-17-14) — San Diego State and former Steele Canyon High pitcher MICHAEL CEDEROTH has been named to preseason All American team by Baseball America.

Michael Cederoth

Cederoth is being projected as a top 10 draft pick in MLB's June draft.

A 6-foot-6 hard throwing right-hander, Cederoth has been a member of the Aztecs' starting rotation during his first two seasons at SDSU, was a second-team all-Mountain West Conference selection in 2013. He led the league in strikeouts both overall and in conference contests. His 109 strikeouts last season rank ninth on the SDSU single-season list.

Cederoth was also named the Mountain West Pitcher of the Week after tossing eight shutout innings in a 2-0 win over Nevada.

USD pitcher Troy Cnyers named Top Prospect
of the summer collegiate Prospect League.
(USD courtesy photo)
Conyers tabbed tops of the Prospects

© East County
DANVILLE, Ill. (10-9-13) — El Capitan High graduate TROY CONYERS, a left-handed pitcher for the Danville Dans which dominated the summer collegiate Prospect League, was named the Top Prospect for the league.

Conyers was a dominant, two-way high school player for El Capitan for four years, and earned acclaim as the California prep player of the year as a senior by going 9-2, 1.07 with 131 strikeouts in 82 innings, while also stinging the ball at a .394-5-26 clip.

Despite those credentials, Conyers was passed over in the 2012 draft and was also forced to wait his turn, for the most part, as a freshman at USD by working primarily in a set-up role. In 17 appearances, he went 3-2, 5.70. His first real opportunity to showcase his talent beyond the high school level came this summer in eight starts for Danville, where he passed with flying colors by posting a 5-1, 1.53 record with 18 walks and 60 strikeouts in 41 innings on his way to earning a nod as the league’s all-star lefthander and No. 1 prospect.

He also managed to get in 22 at-bats, and hit .273-0-5. For a young lefthander with a strong, physically-mature 6-foot-5, 230-pound build, Conyers was ahead of the game with his ability to throw three pitches for strikes in almost any count, including a fastball at 89-91 mph. By adding strength to his big, physical frame, Conyers should only throw harder in time.

For now, his most advanced pitch is probably his changeup because of his ability to throw it with the same arm speed and from the same arm slot as his fastball. His slider is his best breaking ball. Conyers gives the impression of airing out his stuff, but is also construed as being sneaky quick because of the deception he creates in his delivery. He hides the ball well and opens up late, making it difficult to pick up his pitches, especially for left-handed hitters.

But possibly the quality that stands out most about Conyers is his mature mound presence. He has an advanced feel for setting up hitters and adjusting to various sequences late in games.

The Dans posted the best overall record in the Prospect League this season, largely on the strength of an outstanding pitching staff led by Conyers, the league’s No. 1 prospect, but weren’t able to withstand his early departure and went quietly in the playoffs, losing two straight semi-final games to Quincy.

Summer collegiate league awards

© East County
ARLINGTON, Tenn. (8-19-13) — El Capitan High product TROY CONYERS and Steele Canyon graduate WES JUDISH made a major impact in the Prospect League summer collegiate wood bat league after a successful season at USD.

Conyers, who played for the Danville (Ill.) Dans in the 10-team league was named the Prospect of the Year.

Judish, who played for the Hannibal (Mo.) Cavemen, was tabbed the league’s Fireman of the Year.

Conyers posted a 1.53 ERA with a 5-1 record and 60 strikeouts in 41 innings for Danville . Judish, meanwhile, logged a 0.94 ERA with a 3-1 record and 6 saves.

The balloting was done electronically through each of the League’s 11 managers. The annual Award Winners:

A week after the West Virginia Miners claimed their second Prospect League Championship, 2 games to no games for the Quincy Gems. From Opening Day through the All-Star Game hosted by the Butler Blue Sox to an exciting finish to the season’s end, 2013 has been an awesome fifth season for the Prospect League.

A pair of Granite Hills High alums now playing in the Pacific 12 Conference:
Daniel Starwalt (left) of Stanford, and Brian Carroll of 2013 NCAA College
World Series Division I national champion UCLA.
(GHHS courtesy photo)

NCAA Super Regional – Friday
UCLA 5, CS Fullerton 3 (10 inn.) CF BRIAN CARROLL (Granite Hills) scores winning run, and makes a great circus catch (at 2:20 mark on this GAME STORY)
NCAA Super Regional – Saturday
UCLA blanks CSU Fullerton 3-0; advances to College World Series

Brault, Orioles, come to terms

© East County
DENVER (6-14-13) — Former Grossmont High pitcher STEVEN BRAULT has signed with the Baltimore Orioles. After spending three seasons twirling for Regis ( Colo.) University, Brault surrendered his senior season to turn pro as a late round pick of the Orioles.

De Rosier signs with Washington Nationals

By Nick Pellegrino
© East County

LAKESIDE (6-11-13) — Former El Capitan High standout MATT DeROSIER, a right-handed pitcher for the San Diego Stars semipro baseball club, agreed to terms after being drafted in the 24th round by the Washington Nationals.

DeRosier struck out 41 batters in 45 innings while posting a 4-3 record with a 4.20 ERA for Southwestern College this past spring. In two appearances with the Stars, he had a 1-1 record with 9 K's in six innings.

At El Capitan in 2012, the senior led East County with a 0.91 ERA while going undefeated in four decisions. In addition, he posted six saves, the second-highest total by a Grossmont Conference pitcher this century.

Despite his credentials, DeRosier only gained a second-team berth on the coaches' All-Grossmont Valley League team, ranked behind teammates TROY CONYERS (the two-time CIFSDS player of the year), KEVIN GINKEL and SHANE COLEMAN.

   Nesovic tabbed Big West's top Rookie 

© East County
IRVINE (6-2-13) — Former San Diego Stars slugger ROBBY NESOVIC, who did not play high school ball as a senior, has been named the Big West Conference Rookie of the Year.

Nesovic, the designated hitter for UC Santa Barbara, registered a .343 batting average to rank eighth in the Big West, while notching the conference's ninth-best on-base percentage at .414.

Following the conclusion of the regular season, the La Mesa resident ranked fourth on the Gauchos with 61 hits and tied for third with 33 RBI. The diaper dandy also contributed on the mound for UCSB, tossing 51.0 innings with a 4-3 record and 4.76 ERA.

Nesovic was also an honorable mention to the All-Big West team, as selected by conference coaches.

With the Stars last summer, Nesovic was noted as the winning pitcher when the ballclub clinched a National Baseball Congress World Series berth. He combined with LUCAS WHITMORE on a 5-hit shutout of defending regional titlist South Bay (Chula Vista) System to claim the NBC Western Regional championship.

  Balough: CCAA Player of the Year

© East County
ELGIN, Ill. (6-3-13) — Former Santana High baseball player CAMERON BALOUGH has been named the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year.

A sophomore designated hitter for Judson University, Balough led the CCAC in RBI (76), doubles (19), total bases (118) and walks (40). Batting .376 with a slugging percentage of .554 with 83 hits, Balough proved to be a tremendous offensive threat.

Nationally, Balough sits at No. 2 in the NAIA in RBI, \No. 16 in doubles, No. 18 in hits and No. 20 in total bases.

Balough was a two-time All-East County performer in 2010-11 for the Sultans.

2013 MLB FREE AGENT DRAFT – Day 3 (Rounds 11-40)

By Mark Meadows
East County

EL CAJON (6-9-13) — Grossmont College's BILLY FLAMION, El Capitan High alum MATT DeROSIER and Valhalla High's RAMSEY ROMANO, all had their names called on Day 3 of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft held Saturday (June 8).

Flamion was selected in the 15th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers, while De Rosier was picked in the 24th round by the Washington Nationals. Romano later went to the Chicago Cubs in the 35th round.

Flamion, a transfer from the University of Oregon, logged only 7 innings of mound time for the Griffins while striking out 9. It seemed unlikely that would be enough to warrant a 15th round pick. But two weeks ago, Flamion attended a Dodgers' tryout camp featuring former L.A. manager Tommy Lasorda.

"Lasorda told Billy that he had a major league curveball 'right now', said Grossmont head coach RANDY ABSHIER. "He (Lasorda) even asked Billy how he gripped it, and if he would like to sign with the Dodgers (if drafted)."

De Rosier was a freshman for Southwestern in 2013. The right-hander struck out 41 batters in 45 innings for the Jaguars posting a 4-3 record with a 4.20 ERA.

Valhalla's Romano was the lone East County high school player chosen in this year's draft. Tomano, bound fir the University of Michigan if he doesn't sign, .356 with 2 home runs and 15 RBIs, leading the Norsemen to the CIF San Diego Sectrion Division 1 semifinals.

Trevor Frank
Aaron Griffin
Frank, Griffin, selected
in MLB Draft Day 2

By Mark Meadows
East County

SEACAUCUS, N.J. (6-8-13) — Former East County standouts TREVOR FRANK and AARON GRIFFIN – both pitchers – were the first two players with East County ties taken in Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft, held Friday (June 7) from the MLB television studios.

Frank, a product of Valhalla High, was tabbed in the 8th round (No. 231 overall) by the Cleveland Indians. Griffin, a Grossmont High alum, was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 10th round (No. 308).

For three seasonsmFrank was a starting pitcher at UC Riverside before moving into the closing role this past season as a senior. Frank posted a 4-2 record with 10 saves, striking out 44 hitters in 44 innings.

Griffin spent his first three years as a reliever/starter for Loyola Marymount of the West Coast Conference. But in 2013, starting exclusively, he went 4-5 with a 3.07 ERA for the Lions.

Across the County
USD record-breaking slugger Kris Bryant (No. 2 overall) and Madison High's Ian Clarkin (33rd) were taken in the first round.

Rancho Bernardo High saw Trevor Williams (currently at Arizona State) and current Broncos senior Gosuke vKatoh were taken in the second round, Meanwhile, another RB product, Cal State San Marcos' James Dykstra, was selected in the sixth round to become the highest-drafted player in Cougars history,

Cathedral Catholic's Steven Gonsalves and USD's Dylan Covey were selected in the fourth round.

The draft continues with Rounds 11-40 on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. with streaming video on

Few top prospects expected to get the call

By Bill Dickens
© East County

EL CAJON (6-6-13) — When the Major League Baseball free agent draft begins Thursday (June 6) at 4 p.m., it is not likely that a boatload of East County ballplayers will hear their name called.

Those at the top of the East County list include Granite Hills pitcher-center fielder TRENTON BROOKS and Grossmont corner infielder DEREK RUSTICH. Grossmont College shortstop KYLE HOLDER is also on several ballclubs’ draft lists, as is catcher Grossmont High/Southwestern College catcher CODY SOS.

Christian High/UC Riverside infielder EDDIE YOUNG, who now starts for the San Diego Stars semipro baseball team, is also on the draft board.

Other possibles include Steele Canyon/Grossmont College catcher JESSE JENNER.

Elsewhere, Madison pitcher-center fielder Ian Clarkin is tabbed to go early in the first round. University of San Diego power hitter Kris Bryant should make big money, while Rancho Bernardo’s middle infielder Gosuke Katoh will go probably as early as the second round.

Bonita Vista fireball Matt Ball should draw plenty of attention as well.

Cathedral Catholic’s Stephen Gonsalves will sign if he goes higher than his projected third round slot. If the money isn’t there he says he will attend Palomar College .

Of course there are always an abundance of surprise picks, so stay tuned.

Live Draft coverage from MLB Network (Cox Cable 330) begins at 4 p.m., with the top 73 picks being streamed on and broadcast on MLB Network, starting with Houston at No. 1 overall.

Rounds 3-10 will be streamed live on on Friday (June 7), beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m., and Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on on Saturday (June 8), starting at 1 p.m.

Troy Conyers
Conyers pitches USD to WCC crown
USD wins WCC Tourney title with 2-0 win over USF

© East County

STOCKTON (5-26-14) — In the biggest game of the season for the USD Toreros, head coach Rich Hill needed to go with a non-starting pitcher... which was just fine with former El Capitan High standout TROY CONYERS.

In his first collegiate start on the mound, Conyers, a freshman left-hander, tossed a complete-game shutout, lifting USD to the West Coast Conference tournament title after stopping San Francisco, 2-0, on Saturday (May 25) at Banner Island Ballpark.

USD (35-23) now advances to the NCAA regionals, probably to the site hosted by UCLA. The NCAA selection show is Monday at 9 a.m. on ESPNU to identify the tournament field.

Conyers (2-2), in his first collegiate start, completely dominated the Dons, as he allowed no runs, on just two hits, while striking out a career-high nine batters. Conyers is only the second USD pitcher this season to toss a complete game shutout.

Offensively for the Toreros, Austin Green led the way, as he went 2-for-4 with a double and one RBI. Kris Bryant also went 2-for-4 with a double.

Four Toreros earned All-Tournament honors, highlighted by Conyers being named the MVP of the tournament.

Secciani named to Academic All-District Team

© East County
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (5-5-13) — KYLE SECCIANI of the 12th-ranked Cal State San Marcos baseball team was named to the Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 Team, it was announced Friday (May 4).

A Grossmont HS alum, Secciani was selected to the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Conference Championship Most Outstanding Player after helping the Cougars to their second A.I.I. title in the past three seasons on Friday, joining 11 other standouts on the West Coast in being named Academic All-District.

The 2013 Capital One Academic All-District Baseball Teams, selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), were released to recognize the nation's top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom.

Secciani, a Business major, holds a 3.37 cumulative GPA over his four years at CSUSM while excelling on the field of competition. He advances to the Capital One Academic All-America Team ballot where first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees will be selected later this month.

The Cougars' everyday center-fielder the past four seasons, Secciani is the school's all-time leader in runs, triples, walks and stolen bases. In addition, he sits in CSUSM's career top 10 in batting average games played, hits, doubles, RBI, total bases and fielding percentage. He's batted over .300 in three of his four seasons.

This year, Secciani is hitting .306 with 32 RBI, 30 runs, six doubles, five triples and a home run. In addition, he's stolen 17 of the 20 bases attempts.

The Cougars have won a school-record 35 games (35-10) and have been ranked in the Top 25 every week of the season, reaching as high as No. 3 on March 26.

The Cougars are awaiting their assignment for the NAIA Baseball Opening Round. The field will be announced on Monday (May 6).

Trevor Frank
Eddie Young
UC Riverside's Eddie Young
(UCR courtesy photo)
UCR's Frank, Young to meet San Diego State

© East County
RIVERSIDE (4-1-13) — The red-hot UC Riverside baseball team will meet San Diego State in a home-and-home series, with games in Riverside on Monday (Apr. 1), then Tuesday (Apr. 2) at Tony Gwynn Stadium. Both start at 6 p.m.

The Highlanders (13-9) opened Big West Conference action over the weekend with a 3-game sweep of 21st-ranked UC Irvine. UCR has now won four straight and seven straight at home in taking the early conference lead.

UCR shortstop EDDIE YOUNG (Christian HS) is batting just .229 this season, yet his on-base percentage tops the ballclub at .471 because he's the runaway leader with 21 walks, including six over his last three starts.

Meanwhile, pitcher TREVOR FRANK (Valhalla) is the ace of the bullpen, owning a perfect 3-0 record with six saves in 12 appearances.

Young and Frank, both seniors, have one remaining collegiate ballgame scheduled in San Diego on Tues., Apr. 23, whtn UCR goes to Fowler Park to meet the USD Toreros.

Opening Night at Fowler Park, the new baseball field at USD.
(USD courtesy photo)
Aztecs' Cederoth gains pitching win in debut of USD's Fowler Park

© East County
ALCALA PARK (2-16-13) — Former Steele Canyon High standout MICHAEL CEDEROTH will be remembered as the winning pitcher in the debut of USD's Fowler Park.

Michael Cederoth

The sophomore right-hander struck out six batters and yielded just one earned run over five innings, leading visiting San Diego State past the 12th-ranked Toreros, 8-1, to kick off the 2013 season before a sellout crowd of more than 1,700 fans Friday (Feb. 15) night.

"I'll always be able to tell my kids and my grandkids that I won the first game here," said Cederoth, a member of the 2011 All-East County first team. "It's always good to play spoiler."

Junior right-hander Justin Hepner came on in relief and shut out USD over the game's final four innings to garner the save.

"My defense was awesome," Cederoth added. "There were some areas where I needed some defense and it was there. Ty France 's unbelievable glove, (catcher) Jake Romanski with his arm. That was unbelievable. To have those guys back there, I knew that I could just throw strikes. I didn't have to do too much. That really helped knowing those guys were there behind me."

The effort pleased Aztecs coach TONY GWYNN.

"You couldn't help but come into this game looking at it as a big game, in the sense that, new ballpark, national TV audience, big crowd," said Gwynn. "I thought (Cederoth) handled it pretty good. And I thought our guys handled this whole situation pretty good. We came out and did the things we wanted to do."

Frank gains UCR's first victory

© East County
PALM SPRINGS (2-19-13) — Former Valhalla High pitcher TREVOR FRANK was in line for his first save of the season when an error allowed the tying run to score. However, the senior right-hander was vindicated.

UC Riverside answered back with two runs in the bottom of the 8th, allowing Frank to claim the victory in an 8-7 decision over Utah Valley in Saturday's (Feb. 16) game at the Palm Springs Baseball Tournament.

Frank needed to pitch an additional inning of relief, but registered a strikeout to strand a Wolverines runner at third base to garner the victory.

The Highlanders (1-3) then closed the weekend with a pair of setbacks to 6th-ranked Oregon State, despite a 3-for-7 (.429) batting performance by UCR shortstop EDDIE YOUNG (Christian High).

In the second game with the Beavers, Young walked in the 9th – he led the entire Big West Conference in base on balls in 2012 – then broke up a double play at second base which allowed the tying run to score and force extra innings. Oregon State eventually won, 5-4 in 11 innings.

CSU San Marcos takes opener
with East County assistance

© East County
IRVINE (2-2-13) — Former Grossmont College all-conference third baseman KENNY BELZER (Granite Hills) and Grossmont High product KYLE SECCIANI each registered an RBI single, backing the 4-hit pitching of James Dykstra, lifting Cal State San Marcos to a 4-1 upset of 11th-ranked Concordia in Friday's (Feb. 1) NAIA baseball opener.

The Cougars scored all four of their runs in the 3rd inning, sinking the host Eagles' record to 2-2.

Secciani, a transfer from UC Riverside, opened the scoring with a see-ing, ground single up the middle. Belzer aided the rally with a clean single to left field to make it 3-0, then Secciani capped the outburst by scoring on a sacrifice fly.

The ballclubs continue their series Saturday (Feb. 2) at CSUSM Baseball Field with a doubleheader at 11:00 a.m.

Also on the CSU San Marcos roster is El Capitan alum BROOKS NOBLE, a transfer from CSU Dominguez HIlls.

East County Products at 4-Year Schools
Name School NCAA D-1
Brian Carroll Granite Hills UCLA
Michael Cederoth Steele Canyon San Diego State
Trevor Frank Valhalla UC Riverside
Aaron Griffin Grossmont HS Loyola Marymount
Bryan Haar Grossmont HS U. San Diego
Jesse Jenner Steele Canyon CS Fullerton
Wes Judish Steele Canyon U. San Diego
Jeremy Peterson Helix UC Santa Barbara
Evan Potter Grossmont HS San Diego State
Jake Reed Helix Oregon
Tanner Rust El Capitan New Mexico St.
Nick Sabo Monte Vista Long Beach St.
Jack Shannon Grossmont Coll. U. San Diego
Kyle Shaver Grossmont Coll. Pacific
Josh Simms Grossmont HS Pacific
Cody Smith Santana San Diego State
Eddie Young Christian UC Riverside
Name School NCAA D-2
Steven Brault Grossmont HS Regis (Colo)
Andrew Bruder Steele Canyon Cal Poly Pomona
David Bryan West Hills Alderson-Broaddus
Matt Hemphill Grossmont HS Regis (Colo.)
Nolan Murray Steele Canyon CS Monterey Bay
Brooks Noble El Capitan CS Dominguez Hills
Charlie Piro Grossmont HS Chapman
Josh Pond Santana CS San Bernardino
Name School NAIA
Erick Allen Christian Biola
Cody Lewis Foothills Chr. Avila
Blaze McEntee Helix San Diego Christian
Bryan Mitchell Christian The Master's
Matt Swan Grossmont Coll. Biola
Elden Whisman El Capitan Simpson
Yes, we know the list is incomplete. Email to us
names of those who(m) should be added HERE
Reed returns from Cuba

© East County
LA MESA (7-12-12) — University of Oregon pitcher JAKE REED, a former standout at Helix High, is playing with the National Collegiate USA baseball team on a summer tour.

The team recently played five games in Cuba – the first US sports team to go to the island nation in 16 years. The Americans came away with a 2-3 record in Cuba.

Having returned to the United States on Tuesday (July 10), the group is on its way to the Netherlands, where they will be a part of an international tournament.

Rookies power A's past Giants, 4-2, in Griffin's debut;
first MLB homer by Norris is a walk-off, game-winner

Courtesy, San Francisco Chronicle
OAKLAND (6-25-12) — Derek Norris came to the big leagues for the first time Thursday. A.J. GRIFFIN (Grossmont High/ USD) made his major-league debut Sunday (July 24). Together, the 23-year-old catcher and the 24-year-old right-hander combined to prevent the Giants from sweeping the A's in a three-game series at the Coliseum.

Hawksley, Parsons look toward future

© East County
EL CAJON (6-25-12) — Former Valhalla High first baseman DANNY HAWKSLEY has committed to play baseball for San Diego State, and West Hills High graduate ALEX PARSONS has accepted a scholarship to Midland University (formerly Midland Lutheran College) in Freemont, Neb.

Hawksley, who spent his freshman season at USD before transferring to Palomar College, where he batted .281 with a home run, nine doubles and 34 RBI in 31 games this past spring.

Parsons, a three-year starter in baseball and basketball at the prep level, will specialize for the Warriors in baseball under head coach Jef Field at Midland.

“We are excited to have Alex join our baseball program,” Field said. “We look forward to watching him progress as a student athlete in the next four years. We are optimistic he will develop into the player we believe he can become in reaching his potential.”

Parsons, who batted .354 over his final two Wolf Pack baseball seasons, was recognized as the West Hills 2012 Senior Male Athlete of the Year. He also participated in the All-East County Senior All-Star basketball game, while earning a handful more post-season honors following his senior season.

Helix alum Reed advances Oregon to within one game of College World Series
It took a century for Regis to win RMAC crown
Former Foothillers Brault, Hemphill, contribute to rare victory

© East County
PUEBLO, Colo. (5-14-12) — Founded in 1877, Regis University of Golden, Colo, was a charter member when the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference was created in 1909.

On Sunday (May 13) – more than a century later – the Rangers finally captured their first RMAC baseball championship.

A pair of former Grossmont High standouts in STEVEN BRAULT and MATT HEMPHILL contributed, as Regis defeated tournament host Colorado State-Pueblo (formerly Southern Colorado), 9-2, at Rawlings Field.

In the VIDEO, watch Brault, the Rangers' starting right-fielder, throw out a Pueblo runner as the plate in the very first inning. Meanwhile at the plate, Brault batted 6-for-19 (.315), including multiple hits in each of the final three games.

The victory capped a 4-game sweep through the tournament. The Rangers also topped Pueblo in the first round, 3-0, then twice downed New Mexico Highlands, -42 and 3-0.

Regis (32-21) now advances to its first NCAA Division II Central Regional since 1991. The Rangers will be the sixth seed, meeting top-seeded Minnesota State in the first round.

Homecoming at Montezuma Mesa
Gwynn returns to Aztecs dugout;
Frank, Young start for UC Riverside

By Nick Pellegrino
© East County

SAN DIEGO (3-28-12) — In a welcome homecoming on multiple levels, San Diego State was pleased by the return of head baseball coach TONY GWYNN to the stadium which bears his name to Tuesday's (Mar. 27) ballgame.

Meanwhile visiting UC Riverside saw two of its ballplayers – starting pitcher TREVOR FRANK (Valhalla) and shortstop EDDIE YOUNG (Christian) – get the start before family and friends against the hometown Aztecs.

Gwynn, who underwent more than 12 hours of surgery to remove cancerous growths from his jaw just days before the college baseball commenced, made his first on-field appearance of the season. Doctors are still limiting his workload, but the Hall of Famer was obviously enjoying a comfortable position on the diamond.

For Frank, it was his first outing at Tony Gwynn Stadium since capturing the SDCIF Division III championship in 2006.

In a memorable performance, Frank garnered his third save of the week to stop Cathedral Catholic, 4-1, for the San Diego Section crown. Entering the game in the 7th inning, the freshman struck out the side for the first SDCIF baseball title in Valhalla history.

"That was the last time I ever pitched here – I can't believe it's been almost six years," said Frank, who tossed three solid innings in his start against SDSU, leaving with a no-decision in a non-conference game eventually won by the Aztecs, 7-3. "That was a big day in my life."

Frank is now a junior at UC Riverside, majoring in cultural media studies, a newer subject area indicative with the changing world of media and the internet.

"I was majoring in business, but I've found cultural media studies to be quite interesting, so I hope to do something with film," he added. "You always hope to get drafted, or else I'll come back."

"School is great and baseball is coming around. I'm starting to get my pitches back, especially my slider."

Frank was not originally slated to pitch against the Aztecs, but Sunday's rainout pushed his start back two days.

He's been chewing up innings for the Highlanders over the past two seasons, ranking second on the ballclub in innings pitched, third in strikeouts (including a career-high 10 against Loyola Marymount), and third in earned run average.

Young, now a junior at UCR, nearly had his career cut short by an injury which forced him to temporarily leave school after being struck in the head by an errant baseball during practice. Young, then a freshman, was left with a fractured skull.

"It was scary -- I was hit in the temple," said Young. "But now I'm healthy – it's like it never happened. I'm just playing ball and trying to get back into the groove of things."

Young was forced to withdraw from UCR while rehabilitating. Fortunately, the NCAA gave Young a fifth year of eligibility because the injury was so devastating at the time.

"Everything is good right now," added Young, who is now in his second season as the starting shortstop. "I'm majoring in history, and you get a good education in the UC system. And I get to play baseball, too, so it's a win-win."

Young was drafted out of high school, so he's hoping to get another look by a major league organization. Young, a member of the All-East County first team and All-CIF San Diego Section first team in 2008, was a 33rd-round pick of the Chicago White Sox that June.

San Diego State will join UCR in the Big West Conference in the 2013-14 school year. Hawai'i joins the circuit next season.

Haar, No. 24 USD sweep WCC opening series

© East County
ALCALA PARK (3-27-12) — Former Grossmont High standout BRYAN HAAR was part of an important rally by the University of San Diego, allowing the 24th-ranked Toreros to complete a rain-delayed sweep of Santa Clara, 12-4, in Monday's (Mar. 26) series finale at Cunningham Stadium to open West Coast Conference play.

After the visiting Broncos assumed a 2-1 lead, USD (21-6 overall, 3-0 WCC) bounced back with consecutive basehits by A.J. Robinson and Haar, followed by an Andrew Daniel double to even the score at 2-2. Kris Bryant then moved the Toreros in front with a prodigious 3-run home run to left-center field for a 5-2 lead.

For the contest, Haar went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI. This season, Haar ranks among the team leaders in batting with a .337 average. He leads the Toreros in doubles (12) and is second in stolen bases.

Former Norsemen X's with the O's

© East County
SAN DIEGO (2-13-12) — Former Valhalla High pitcher BOBBY WILKINS has signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Orioles and will be playing in the American League ballclub’s minor league system.

Jenner gains game-winner for CS Fullerton

© East County
FULLERTON (2-27-12) — Former Steele Canyon High standout JESSE JENNER delivered the game-winning hit Saturday (Feb. 25), lifting Cal State Fullerton to a 3-2 triumph over TCU at Goodwin Field.

Jenner, called up as a pinch hitter, blooped a basehit to left field in the bottom of the 8th inning.

The Titans (2-3) then held on after the Horned Frogs loaded the bases with no one out in the 9th, but Michael Lorenzen came out of the bullpen to register a strikeout and induce a 6-3 double play to escape unscathed.

Fullerton will host San Diego State on Tuesday (Feb. 28) in another non-conference game.

Oregon frosh Reed opens strong in Hawai'i

© East County
HONOLULU (2-19-12) — Former Helix High pitcher JAKE REED, a true freshman at the University of Oregon, made his collegiate debut Saturday (Feb. 18) at the University of Hawai’i. Although the right-hander did not figure in the decision in a game the Ducks won 3-2 in 12 innings, he was none the less impressive.

In a six-inning outing, Reed scattered 5 hits and allowed only one earned run. He walked 3 and struck out 4.

He is rated the 23rd-best freshman in college baseball by Baseball America.

The rookie was selected in the 40th round (1,221 overall) of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Chicago White Sox. He helped Helix to a 25-9 record and its first CIF San Diego Section Division II Championship since 1988. He was named to the Max Preps All-State second team, Cal-Hi Sports third team, the San Diego Section first team, the All-East first team, and the Grossmont Hills League first team.

As a senior, Reed logged a 9-1 record, 0.63 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 67 innings.

Nothing fishy about Pond
Six-foot-6 Cal State- San Bernardino senior right-hander JOSH POND, a product of Santana High, is preparing for a big season after being named a National College Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) third-team All-American as a junior.

Pond set a Cal State-San Bernardino record and led all NCAA Division II pitchers in saves with 16 in 17 opportunities. Although did not win a game he posted a 1.54 ERA in 23 appearances.

Brault enjoys Rocky Mtn.High
A sophomore standout for the Regis University (Colo.) Rangers, Grossmont High graduate STEVEN BRAULT began the season with some added pressure. Brault was named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Preseason Baseball Player of the Year as voted on by the eight conference coaches.

The RMAC Freshman of the Year posted a .369 batting average while starting 28 games at 1st base and 10 in the outfield. He also chalked up a 3-7 record with one shutout, 54 strikeouts and a 6.05 ERA.

Strasburg won't be AWOL from Nats camp
San Diego State to retire his No. 37 this Friday

© East County
SAN DIEGO (2-13-12) — At least two internet blogs were in panic mode over the weekend, learning that Washington Nationals pitcher STEPHEN STRASBURG may miss the opening of spring training, with pitchers and catchers scheduled to report this Monday (Feb. 20) to Space Coast Stadium in Melbourne, Fla.

Don't worry, Strasburg will be okay – there's something else on his agenda.

This Friday (Feb. 17), when San Diego State opens its baseball season against Washington (The University of, not the Nats), the former Aztecs All-America pitcher will have his number retired (37) in pregame ceremonies at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

The ceremony will get underway at 5:45 p.m., with the Aztecs-Huskies game starting at 6 p.m. All tickets for this special night are priced at just $6.00.

In 2009, Strasburg was a consensus All-America selection after posting a 13-1 record, including a no-hitter over Air Force, with a 1.32 earned run average. That season he struck out 195 batters in just 109 innings while walking only 19.

Strasburg, a product of West Hills High, was the recipient of the 2009 Golden Spikes Award as the nation's top collegiate player. He was also named the National Pitcher of the Year by the College Baseball Foundation and was presented the Dick Howser Trophy as the nation's top player. In addition, he was selected the National Player of the Year by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball.

Preseason WCC honors for Griffin at LMU

© East County
LOS ANGELES (1-27-12) — Former Grossmont High pitching standout AARON GRIFFIN has been tabbed as a Preseason All-West Coast Conference selection according to College Sports Madness. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Loyola-Marymount junior right-hander took home WCC honorable mention honors a year ago.

Griffin emerged as a dominant Sunday starter over the course of the year, finishing the season with a 7-3 record and a 2.99 ERA over nine starts and 19 appearances.

The 2.99 ERA ranks 10th in LMU's single season record book. He dealt a pair of complete games, including one complete-game shutout en route to 72.1 innings of work on the hill. He struck out 47 hitters while holding opponents to a .264 batting average against. In his nine starts alone, Griffin sported a 2.89 ERA and a 4-2 record.

Thomas needs 72 hours to breakthrough in pro debut

© East County
FORT WORTH, Texas (8-24-11) — For CLIFTON THOMAS, the record-setting base stealer out of El Cajon Valley High, only 72 hours were needed before he blossomed in his professional debut for the Fort Worth Cats.

After batting just 1-for-14 in his first three games as a midseason signee, Thomas erupted with a 3-for-5, three RBI performance to fuel the Cats' offense against the South Division rival El Paso Diablos in Wednesday's (Aug. 24) American Association ballgame.

On three occasions with a runner in scoring position, Thomas, a centerfielder, delivered a run-scoring basehit in a 12-3 triumph. The contest opened a season-ending, 8-game homestand for the Cats at LaGrave Field.

Thomas signed on Sunday (Aug. 21) following an MVP performance for the Roswell (N.M.) Invaders of the collegiate Pecos League.

Thomas' career includes stops at Grossmont College and Texas A&M Kingsville , along with semipro/summer collegiate league stops with the San Diego Stars, the Brazos Valley (Texas) Bombers, and the Invaders.

At ECVHS, Thomas established school and Grossmont Conference records by stealing 50 bases as a senior in 2006, one short of the CIF San Diego Section mark set by current MLB standout Eric Chavez (Mt. Carmel, 1995).

Brault is a Lunker... and an All-Star

© East County
BRAINERD, Minn. (8-16-11) — Grossmont High alum STEVEN BRAULT of the Brainerd Lakes Area Lunkers has been selected to the postseason Northwoods League All-Star Team. This is a collegiate summer league.

Brault led the Lunkers in batting average nearly wire-to-wire, hitting .330 with 2 home runs and 31 RBI. The freshman out of Regis College in Denver also posted a 1.65 ERA in five appearances on the mound this summer.
Mosier signs with Chi-Sox

© East County
EL CAJON (7-22-11) — Valhalla High senior catcher BRYCE MOSIER has signed with the Chicago White Sox and will report to the Bristol (Va.) Sox of the Appalachian League.

A 6-foot-2, 190-pound catcher, Mosier batted. 443 with four home runs and 18 RBI for the Norsemen last spring,

  Taijeron tees off again

© East County
BROOKLYN, N.Y. (7-22-11) — One thing that TRAVIS TAIJERON has proven he can do as a professional baseball hitter is deliver in bunches.

In Thursday’s (July 21) Brooklyn Cyclones 13-0 New York-Penn League rout of the Aberdeen (Md.) Ironbirds, the Granite Hills High graduate fell a triple short of hitting for the cycle, finishing 4-for-4 with five RBI. His major stroke was a three-run home run in the latest victory.

East County hurlers Karstens, Correia pitch Pittsburgh into NL Central Division lead

© East County
HOUSTON (7-16-11) — Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers JEFF KARSTENS and KEVIN CORREIA no doubt crossed paths while growing up in East County. Both played baseball in the Grossmont Conference – Karstens at Mount Miguel and Correia at Grossmont High. They each took a turn at Grossmont College but were not teammates.

Funny, now, how they are now teammates at baseball’s highest level. Fact is, the duo has combined for 19 wins thus far this season which has helped the Pittsburgh Pirates move into a tie for the National League Central Division lead with the St. Louis Cardinals heading into Saturday’s (July 16) action.

Karstens, a 28-year-old right-hander, needed only 83 pitches to propel the Pirates into first place for the first time this late in the season since July 17, 1997. The veteran of parts of six major league seasons, Karstens masterfully and efficiently wove through the Houston Astros lineup on the way to his second career shutout in a 4-0 Pirates win at Minute Maid Park.

“It's one of the best pitched games I've seen,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told “You take into account the pitches thrown, 21 out of 30 first-pitch strikes, and then you get the leadoff hitter six out of nine innings, just a couple three-ball counts, 10 ground balls for 12 outs. Defense helped him a couple times, but that was a masterful outing.”

That effort hoisted Karstens’ career-high win total to 8 against 4 losses while lowering his ERA to 2.34 in 107.2 innings.

Karstens, who won his fifth straight decision, became the first Pirate to accomplish the feat since Matt Capps, who won eight straight from June-Oct. 2006. His 83 pitches are the fewest among all Major League pitchers in a nine-inning complete game this season.

A one-time New York Yankee, Karstens pitched a complete game and dominated the Astros as he allowed only five hits and really wasn’t ever in danger of losing control of the game.

It was the 12th time in his last 13 starts that Karstens was charged with two earned runs or less and over that stretch he has allowed only 16 earned runs in 81 innings pitched.

“My whole goal when I'm on the mound is to get my team off the field as quick as possible, get them back in to hit," Karstens told “A lot of times when you do that, you look up and it's the sixth inning. When you try and worry about what's going to happen the rest of the game, a lot of times you get yourself in trouble.”

Three of Karstens' last six starts have come against the Astros, all resulting in victories. He has surrendered just one run in 22 2/3 innings against Houston this season.

The Astros managed just one hit through the first five innings off Karstens.

Karstens' only other complete-game came on Aug. 6, 2008, when he blanked Arizona on just two hits.

"I think that game in Arizona is pretty hard to compare to, but tonight it felt good, just to come out and get us back on the right track where we were before the All-Star break," Karstens said.

Correia finished the first half of the season 11-7 with a 4.01 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP and 59 strikeouts in 116 2/3 innings. His 11 victories rank second in the NL, but he owns a pedestrian 4.6 K/9 ratio which limits his value. The 31-year-old right-hander's ERA has hovered below 4.00 all season, but after yielding five runs in his final start before the All-Star break, Correia's ERA ballooned a quarter.

Former Foothillers sparkle in Northwoods League

© East County
BRAINERD , Minn. (7-9-11) — Led by former Grossmont High pitchers AARON GRIFFIN and STEVEN BRAULT, the Brainerd Lakes Area Lunkers of Minnesota finished the first half of the Northwoods League season in second place in the Southern Division. The Lunkers defeated the Thunder Bay Border Cats 8-5 for their 4th straight win on Wednesday (July 6) before beginning the second round of the summer collegiate baseball season later this week.

Griffin pitched the first seven innings for the win and Brault, who is batting at a .353 clip (42-for-119), toiled the final two innings to log the save. It was Griffin ’s second win in as many decisions. He owns a 2.79 ERA and has posted 22 strikeouts in 29 innings.

On Thursday (July 8), the Lunkers (21-11) split a doubleheader against the River Bats at St. Cloud , taking the first game 2-1 before falling 4-3 in the nightcap.

Grossmont alum BRYAN HAAR slugged a solo home run – his team leading 4th of the summer for St. Cloud – in the first game loss. The University of San Diego third baseman is batting at a .348 clip (16-46) for the River Bats.

Whitmore named all-tourny at NAIA nationals

© East County
LEWISTON, Idaho (6-4-11) — Although his team, Lubbock Christian (50-13), lost to Concordia-Irvine,
9-3, in the 55th annual Avista-NAIA World Series at Harris Field on Friday (June 3), former El Capitan High-Grossmont College pitcher LUCAS WHITMORE was chosen to the all-tournament team.

A junior southpaw, Whitmore finished his junior season with a 10-3 record, 3.48 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 98 1/3 innings.

All-America honors for Santana alum Smith

© East County
SAN DIEGO (6-9-11) — Forget about what kind of bat it is. CODY SMITH has never had difficulty swinging the bat. He ranked among the East County leaders throughout his Santana High career.

He carried that prowess over to the NCAA Division I level as a freshman outfielder at San Diego State University this season.

Smith was named to the 2011 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America squad by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper of Tucson, Ariz. He earned second-team all-MWC accolades this past season, batting .320 with 11 doubles, four triples, two home runs, 30 RBI and 27 runs scored. He was successful on 15 of 16 stolen base attempts while leading the Aztecs in that category.

SDSU pitcher Cole Swanson of Torrey Pines, a second-team all-Mountain West conference selection, was also named to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper team. He posted a 4-2 record with a 3.23 ERA over 15 appearances including nine starts.

Smith and Swanson are the first Aztecs to earn the honor from Collegiate Baseball since Brock Ungricht in 2007.

Santana alum Smith tabbed all-Mountain West

© East County
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (5-24-11) — Santana High product CODY SMITH, a freshman outfielder for San Diego State, is among four Aztecs to earn second team All-Mountain West Conference baseball honors in balloting conducted by the league's seven head coaches. Juniors Brandon Meredith and Chris Wilson (son of Valhalla baseball coach MIKE WILSON) along with freshmen Cole Swanson were also honored.

A 5-foot-10, 185-pounder, Smith batted .302 with six doubles, a pair of triples, 14 RBI and 14 runs scored in MWC play. He did not commit an error in 24 MWC contests and currently sports a .299 overall average with 11 doubles, four triples and 28 RBI. He has also been successful on 14 of 15 stolen base attempts.

Wilson (Cathedral Catholic), who earned his award as an outfielder, hit .315 in conference play with 10 doubles, four home runs, 19 RBI and 15 runs scored in 24 contests. Three of his homers came in a contest against Air Force and tied the school single-game record. Overall, Wilson is batting .255 while leading the team in doubles (16) and home runs (5). His 32 RBI ranks second on the squad as well.

San Diego State (21-34) opens play in the 2011 Mountain West Conference tournament on Tuesday (May 24), with a contest against UNLV scheduled for a 7 p.m. start at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

Loyola Marymount University right-handed pitcher Aaron Griffin.
(LMU courtesy photo)
Darren Gay
Gay tabbed to MCC team

© East County
OSKALOOSA, Iowa (5-18-11) — William Penn University junior pitcher DARREN GAY, a former standout at Granite Hills High, Grossmont College and San Diego Mesa College, has been recognized as an honorable mention pick for the All-Midwest Collegiate Conference baseball team.

Gay turned in easily the best pitching campaign of any William Penn hurler, going 4-3 with team bests in ERA (1.63), shutouts (3--1 complete, 2 shared), saves (3), innings pitched (66 1/3), strikeouts (43), and opponent batting average (.170). Nearly untouchable during the league slate, opposition hit just .150 against the junior. In 13 total appearances this spring, Gay allowed no runs or one run nine times.

Rare double for LMU's Griffin

© East County
SAN BRUNO (5-17-11) — Loyola Marymount University sophomore AARON GRIFFIN earned a double honor, named Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Week.

Griffin made two starts last week, tossing 6 1/3 innings and leaving with a 2-1 lead on Monday versus Cal State Bakersfield. A Grossmont High graduate, Griffin allowed an unearned run on three hits and two walks while striking out a career-high eight batters.

On Sunday (May 15) at Saint Mary's, Griffin tossed his second career complete game, and his first career complete-game shutout, to improve to 6-3. The right-hander threw 116 pitches, allowing six hits and one walk while striking out six hitters. He retired 12 straight hitters from the third out in the second through the second out in the sixth.

Overall on the week, Griffin posted a 0.00 ERA and a 1-0 record with a shutout and a complete game over 15.1 innings of work. He allowed just nine hits and one unearned run over the two starts, allowing three walks and striking out 14.

The selection from the WCC is the second in Griffin's career, and it marks the seventh time that a Lions player has been selected either Pitcher or Player of the Week this year.

Lucas Whitmore
Steven Brault
Whitmore bound for NAIA World Series

© East County
LUBBOCK, Texas (5-17-11) — Former El Capitan High and Grossmont College hurler LUCAS WHITMORE pitched a complete game and had a span of 16 consecutive batters retired to help lead No.9 Lubbock Christian University to a 10-3 win over Kansas Wesleyan University on Saturday (May 14), clinching the Lubbock Bracket championship and punching their ticket to the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho.

Whitmore dodged a couple of jams early, and then got into a groove, retiring 16 straight Coyotes batters. He retired KWU in order in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings. The southpaw went the distance allowing a pair of earned runs in nine innings, striking out seven and not walking any batters. He improved to 9-2 on the season.

LCU (46-12) qualifies for the NAIA World Series for a tenth time in program history.

Whitmore, a junior at LCU, played center field as well as pitched for El Capitan in his senior season.

Brault earns RMAC
postseason honors

© East County
DENVER (5-17-11) — Former Grossmont High standout STEVEN BRAULT earned third team All-Rocky Mountain Conference Athletic Conference at two positions (pitcher and first base) at Regis University in his freshman season.

In addition, the 6-foot-1, 170-pound Brault was selected the 2011 RMAC Baseball Freshman of the Year.
Brault ranked 9th in the RMAC in batting average (.372) and fifth in batters struck out (54).

Brault was 3-7 with an earned run average of 6.05. He also produced 55 hits, which tied for 16th.

Promotional material, courtesy, Cal Poly Pomona
Taijeron voted CCAA Player of the Year
First Cal Poly Pomona recipient in 20 seasons

© East County
POMONA (5-13-11) — Former Granite Hills High and Grossmont College standout TRAVIS TAIJERON, now a senior at Cal Poly Pomona, has been named the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Most Valuable Player.

The Ultimate Travis Taijeron VIDEO

A candidate for the 2011 NCAA Division II Player of the Year, Taijeron is the fifth CPP player to be named the MVP of the conference and the first since 1991.


A 6-foot-2 center fielder, Taijeron is at the top of the league for most major offensive statistics, including slugging percentage (.731 - 1st), on-base percentage (.516 - 1st), homeruns (14 - 1st) and total bases (122 - 1st). His 14 home runs also ranks 18th nationally. A former catcher and first baseman, Taijeron helped the Broncos (30-19) secure a spot in the CCAA Tournament by batting .459 in the final month of the regular season

Two other East County products earned All-CCAA honors. First team recognition went to Santana High graduate JOSH POND, a 6-foot-6, 245-pound right-handed junior closer at Cal State-San Bernardino. He finished with 16 saves that not only earned a school record, but tied the single-season CCAA mark. He was successful in 16 of 17 save situations. Pond also posted a 1.54 ERA and struck out 37 in 23 1/3 innings.

Receiving honorable mention was another former Santana standout – pitcher BRANDYN BELL, who racked up a 6-2 record with a 3.33 ERA at Cal State-East Bay. The 6-foot-3 junior right-hander topped the Pioneers with 44 strikeouts.

As a junior in 2010, Taijeron earned American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) All-West Region Second Team honors as an outfielder. He was also selected to the All-CCAA Second Team after establishing the Broncos season record for home runs with 16. He also logged 48 RBI and topped CPP with a .345 average.

At Grossmont College as a freshman, Taijeron paced the Griffins in hitting .378 and registering an on-base percentage of .483.

In three varsity seasons at Granite Hills, Taijeron clubbed 33 home runs, notched 116 RBI and batted .345 (106-for-307).

MAY 23 UPDATE: Former Granite Hills slugger TRAVIS TAIJERON finished his record-setting two-year Cal Poly Pomona career with a .369 average, 34 doubles, 32 homeruns, 99 runs batted in, 78 walks and a .989 fielding percentage. After matching his single-season program record with 16 home runs in 2011, he stands at second all-time with his career mark of 32.

As great as his numbers read, Taijeron – a senior outfielder who earned a berth on the All-NCAA West Region team – could not carry the Broncos to a victory in the NCAA Division II West Region title game that would have led Cal Poly into the DII Championship Tournament.

Cal Poly Pomona suffered an 8-5 loss to Sonoma State Sunday (May 22) in the West Region title game to end a remarkable and record-setting season for the Broncos.

CPP finish the 2011 campaign with an overall record of 36-23, the largest win total for the program since 1985 and the highest winning percentage (.610) since 1983.

Brault named RMAC Pitcher of the Week

© East County
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (4-15-11) — In his finest performance on the mound in his young collegiate career, Regis College southpaw STEVEN BRAULT was awarded the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week after allowing just one unearned run in the Rangers 2-1 victory over Colorado School of the Mines on Saturday (Apr. 9).

Brault, a graduate of Grossmont High, threw the second complete game of his career and improved to 3-4 on the season. He allowed just four hits but didn't allow more than one hit in any given inning. He walked just one Oredigger and struck out a career-high seven batters.

On the season, Brault, a dual-threat for the Rangers, has a 5.87 ERA and is third on the team throwing 38 1/3 innings. He leads the Rangers with 31 strikeouts and has nearly a 3-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. Brault, who also plays first base and outfield, is third on the team with a .360 batting average and is second with six doubles and third with 36 hits.

Gay makes case with shutout in starting debut

© East County
OSKALOOSA, Iowa (3-24-11) — Former Granite Hills High and Grossmont College standout DARREN GAY pitched a shutout in a Midwest Collegiate Conference opening doubleheader for William Penn University last Saturday (Mar. 19).

After the Statesmen dropped the first game to snap a 5-game winning streak, Gay, a junior right-hander, responded with the team's best pitching effort of the season. Following just six appearances in relief, Gay tossed a complete-game 2-hitter, walking just one in allowing just three baserunners all contest.

According to the school website, Gay (2-0) made "a serious case for a starting spot" for Penn (14-5 overall).

Gay was the 2007 pitcher of the year for Grossmont College, but later pitched for San Diego Mesa.

Hot time in the River city

© East County
SACRAMENTO (3-1-11) — Former Christian High standout EDDIE YOUNG is off to a fast start as the starting second baseman for UC Riverside.

Over the weekend, Young was instrumental in leading the Highlanders to a 3-game sweep of Sacramento State . Included in Young’s efforts was a leadoff single in the 6th, eventually scoring the tie-breaking run in Sunday's (Feb. 27) series-ending, 4-2 triumph.

In his last six starts, Young has lifted his batting average to .346 during the stretch for UCR (4-4 overall). The sophomore also collected a hit and a run scored against USC during his hitting streak.

Young was originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 33rd round of the 2008 MLB draft after leading Christian High to the 2007 Central League crown, when he was named the league's player of the year, then was tabbed San Diego CIF Division IV player of the year as a senior in 2008.

SDSU Red-Black series

© East County
SAN DIEGO (11-4-10) — Five freshman out of East County — EVAN POTTER (Grossmont), DYLAN GARCIA (Granite Hills), JARED HUNT (Granite Hills), CODY SMITH (Santana) and KYLE HAYES (Santana) – will participate in the 2nd Annual Aztec Red-Black World Series this weekend at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

The games will be Thursday (Nov. 4), at 3 p.m., Friday (Nov. 5), 3 p.m. and Saturday Nov. 6, at 1:30 p.m. Admission is free.

These freshmen are part of the recruiting class, ranked 17th in the nation, for the San Diego State Aztecs.

The losing World Series team will host a free car wash on Sunday (Nov. 7) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Tony Gwynn Stadium, with the public is invited to have their autos cleaned free of charge.

O'Sullivan showcased
Traded to Kansas City

© East County 
NEW YORK (7-23-10) — It quickly became apparent that SEAN O'SULLIVAN's start Tuesday (July 20) against the New York Yankees was to fully demonstrate he was ready to fit into the rotation for almost any MLB ballclub

Less than 48 hours following his first MLB victory in a year, O'Sullivan, 22, was one of two pitchers traded to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for third baseman Alberto Callaspo, who was sent packing to the Los Angeles Angels.

O'Sullivan currently owns a career record of 5-2, the same mark as former West Hills High and San Diego State product STEPHEN STRASBURG.

O’Sullivan befuddles Yankees

© East County
NEW YORK (7-21-10) — Los Angeles Angels pitcher SEAN O’SULLIVAN made his first major league start in nearly a year Tuesday (July 20) against the World Champion Yankees in a game televised over the Armed Forces Network from Yankee Stadium.

Of course, the majority of the audience, including the 47,775 fans at Yankee Stadium, was focused on seeking a New York knockout.

After surrendering two runs and two hits in the first inning, O’Sullivan – a product of Valhalla High and Grossmont College – settled in to hold the Yankees hitless over five innings to gain his first pitching decision of the season as the Angels prevailed 10-2.

“He doesn't get rattled," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of O'Sullivan. "That's a tough lineup. I thought Sean made some good adjustments as the game went on."

O'Sullivan, who spoke with his parents – Paul and Dina – before the game, said his 11th Major League start had a different feel at the outset.

"As a kid, the Yankees are the biggest team," O'Sullivan said. "To get to pitch here, on their mound -- the loneliest place on earth, they say -- it's big.”

Filling in for injured starter Scott Kazmir, O’Sullivan walked three and struck out four, while throwing 85 pitches.

“I didn't know I was starting until I got here today," O'Sullivan said. "Butch [pitching coach Mike Butcher] said he gave me a call yesterday, but I didn't get it.”

O'Sullivan arrived in the Bronx from Triple-A Salt Lake with reliever Trevor Bell, who ended up pitching the ninth inning after O'Sullivan went six.

O'Sullivan, who had made four relief appearances for the Angels while spending most of the season at Salt Lake, held the Yankees to two runs on two hits and three walks (one intentional) across six innings, striking out four. He is 1-0, his ERA a sparkling 2.08.

The 22-year-old right-hander, who won his Major League debut with a superb effort in San Francisco on June 16 of last year, pitched a no-hitter for Triple-A Salt Lake earlier this season.

Nick Longmire
trots the bases
following his first
professional HR.
(Howard Owens
The Batavian)
Longmire's fast pro start

Special to East County
BATAVIA, N.Y. (6-28-10) — Although the Batavia Muckdogs (4-6) are off to a so-so start in the Class A New York Penn League, former Grossmont High slugger NICK LONGMIRE is on a hitting rampage.

The Muckdogs’ center fielder and No. 5 pick of the St. Louis Cardinals, Longmire leads the league in six offensive batting categories through 10 games. That includes hits (15), triples (3), home runs (3) and RBI (16). His .405 batting average is No. 2 in the circuit. MORE

Longmire takes first step in pros

Special to East County
BATAVIA, N.Y. (6-21-10) — Fresh off signing a professional baseball contract as a 5th round draft choice of the St. Louis Cardinals, former Grossmont High standout NICK LONGMIRE has made an immediate impact for the Class A Batavia Muckdogs of the New York Penn League.

Batavia’s fans fell in love with the East County center fielder instantly.

In the Muckdogs’ home opener on Saturday (June 19), Longmire clubbed a home run, two doubles, and had a sacrifice fly to drive in six runs as Batavia edged the Auburn Doubledays, 7-5. Phillips picks-up Padres paycheck

© East County
SAN DIEGO (6-26-10) — El Capitan High alum KYLE PHILLIPS, 26, is coming home – sort of.

A 10th round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2002, Phillips will now pick up his paychecks from the San Diego Padres organization. The left-hand-hitting third baseman was traded by the Toronto Blue Jays from their Pacific Coast League Triple-A farmclub in Las Vegas to the Padres PCL Triple-A ballclub in Portland on Friday (June 25).

Although Phillips is expected to finish the season playing for the Beavers, the continual transactions made by the major league ballclub leaves the door open for a possible call-up.

Phillips, who batted .300 with 8 home runs and 29 RBI a year ago at Las Vegas , was hitting only .258 for the same team this season. He is the brother of former major league JASON PHILLIPS, also a product of El Capitan High as well as San Diego State.

Brian Longpre in action
for CSU Northridge.
(CSUN photo)
Ex-Griffin signs with Blue Jays

© East County
NORTHRIDGE (6-23-10) — Former Grossmont College pitcher BRIAN LONGPRE, who concluded his amateur career with two seasons at Cal State Northridge, has signed a free agent contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Longpre, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-hander, toiled for the Griffins as a redshirt sophomore during the 2008 season after bouncing back from San Diego State as a freshman. He struck out 37 batters in 31 1/3 innings while compiling a 4.31 ERA.

Longpre concluded his CSUN career by appearing in 25 games in the 2010 season, finishing the year with a 2-1 record and a 4.54 ERA. The La Crescenta native struck out 27 batters, walked just 12, and finished with three pick-offs, good for the third-highest total in the Big West Conference.

In addition to excelling on the baseball diamond, Longpre graduated in May with a degree in finance.

Nick Longmire
Pacific Tigers
Greg Garcia
Hawai'i Rainbows

The next Strasburg?
Five local players tabbed on Day Two of MLB draft

© East County
EL CAJON (6-9-10) — Five college athletes with East County ties were selected in Tuesday’s (June 8) second day of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

At the top of the list is University of Pacific junior outfielder and Grossmont High alum NICK LONGMIRE (VIDEO) who was selected in the 5th round by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 169th overall pick. He is the highest player drafted out of the Stockton-based university since 2007. Longmire is no stranger to the stage of the MLB Draft. As a high school senior, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound then-first-baseman was drafted by Oakland in the 37th round of the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft. His choice to attend college first will definitely pay off should he decide to turn pro this summer.

A.J. Griffin
USD Toreros
Cameron Selik
Kansas Jayhawks
This season at Pacific, Longmire finished as the top hitter in the Big West Conference games with a .354 average. He hit .327 overall.

In his senior year at Grossmont, Longmire led the Foothillers with a .514 batting average, 15 home runs, 19 stolen bases, 36 RBI and a 1.010 slugging percentage. He was also named the San Diego CIF Division II Player of the Year.

Other Inlanders selected were: Valhalla (University of Hawai'i) product and middle infielder GREG GARCIA (7th round, St. Louis); Grossmont alum and USD senior right-handed pitcher AJ GRIFFIN (13th round, Oakland A’s); Grossmont College’s CAMERON SELIK (22nd round, Washington Nationals), who is now a junior at Kansas; and 6-foot-8 Grossmont College freshman KEVIN KLEIS (27th round, Pittsburgh Pirates).

Twenty-nine rounds were completed on Tuesday. The final 20 rounds will be conducted on Wednesday (June 9).

The Cardinals used the 229th pick to select Garcia, who led the Rainbow Warriors with a .358 batting average. Garcia earned first team all-WAC honors in 2010 after being named to the second team in each of his first two seasons at Hawaii .

A 6-foot-2, 234-pound senior right-handed pitcher and the 656th pick in the draft, Selik posted a 6-4 record in 15 starts for the Jayhawks this season with a 5.06 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 90 2/3 innings. Selik earned wins in his first four starts of the season, becoming the first Jayhawks pitcher to accomplish that since Pete Smart opened the 2000 with six-straight wins. He tossed one of two complete games by a Kansas pitcher this year, and held his opponents to a .277 batting average.

Griffin, a first-team All-West Coast Conference performer, was the 395th player selected in the draft. The 6-5, 215-pound right-hander registered a 5-0 record in league games with a 57-13 strikeout to walk ratio and had an ERA of 3.26.

Overall, Griffin was 8-3 with a 4.47 ERA and was second on the team in strikeouts with 113. Griffin picked up a win in the Tempe Regional after a dominating performance against Wisconsin-Milwaukee in which he allowed no runs on two hits in 5.0 innings.

A virtual unknown at Grossmont High, the 6-8 Kleis earned the closer’s role as a Grossmont College freshman this season. He compiled a 1-2 record with three saves, 5.51 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings.

After 30 rounds in this year’s draft, Grossmont College is the only San Diego community college to have a player chosen. The Griffins, in fact, had two. That’s right. Pacific Coast Athletic Conference champion San Diego City College and runner-up Palomar had none between them.

Watch the Clifton Thomas interview on Javelina Television.

Thomas' career end with record numbers

Courtesy, Texas A&M-Kingsville media relations
ABILENE, TEXAS – The 11th-ranked Abilene Christian baseball team ended the season of Texas A&M-Kingsville on Sunday (May 2) afternoon at the Lone Star Conference Tournament with a 16-7 win at Abilene Christian University's Crutcher Scott Fied.

The Javelinas (28-25) took an early lead when CLIFTON THOMAS (Grossmont College//El Cajon Valley HS) led off the bottom of the first inning with a single and stole second and would later score.

The loss ended the Javelinas’ season, finishing with a school record with 24 conference victories. Thomas concluded his career in grand fashion with one of the most prolific seasons in school history hitting .388 with 63 runs, 21 doubles, nine triples, 10 homers, 46 RBI, 154 total bases and 27 stolen bases. He is the only player in school history to have at least 10 home runs and 20 stolen bases in back-to-back seasons. He also set a school record with 139 outfield putouts this season, including nine against the Wildcats, earning an all-tournament team berth.

Thomas is expected to join the San Diego Stars semipro baseball club for the Western Baseball Association summer season.

All-Region honors for Thomas

© East County
KINGSVILLE, Texas (5-16-10/revised 5-22-10) — Former All-East County baseball player CLIFTON THOMAS (El Cajon Valley HS/Grossmont College) of Texas A&M-Kingsville was recently named to three different all-region teams.

Thomas was tabbed to the Daktronics All-South Central Region, the Rawlings/American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) All-South Central Region team, then was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association All-South Central Region team. On all three, he gained second-team berths.

Thomas led the Javelinas to a 28-25 record and a trip to the Lone Star Conference Tournament this year. Each player also earned First Team all-LSC honors this year, while Thomas also gained an LSC All-Tournament berth.

Thomas posted one of the best seasons in Kingsville history. He batted .388 with 63 runs, 21 doubles, nine triples, 10 home runs, 46 runs batted in and 27 stolen bases.

He is the first player in school history with at least 20 doubles, 10 homers and 20 stolen bases in one season. He tallied 154 total bases and a .703 slugging percentage en route to becoming the first player in school history with two seasons of at least 100 total bases.

Thomas is expected to join the Barona-San Diego Stars semipro baseball team this summer if he doesn’t get drafted.

Thomas gains first-team laurels

© East County
ABILENE, Texas (5-1-10) — Texas A&M-Kingsville senior centerfielder CLIFTON THOMAS (El Cajon Valley HS/Grossmont College) has been selected to the first team of the All-Lone Star Conference baseball team. The award was announced at Friday's (Apr. 30) banquet held prior to the start of this weekend's LSC baseball championship at Abilene Christian's Crutcher Scott Field.

Thomas has been the mainstay to the offensive production after putting together one of the most exceptional seasons in school history. Thomas batted .381 with 59 runs, 20 doubles, 9 triples, 9 home runs, a .690 slugging percentage and 26 stolen bases, all while playing outstanding defense. In fact, all but one Kingsville starter batted more than .300 this season (the lone exception batted .296).

Thomas, who was a second-team honoree in 2009, helped the Javelinas (28-23) gain the fourth seed to the conference event, with the winner gaining an automatic berth to the NCAA Division II South Central regional. The Hoggies will meet Cameron University in Saturday's first-round contest.

The Javelinas have won eight of their last 10 games and enter the tournament on a scoring binge having scored at least 10 runs in seven of their last nine contests. Since March 5, the Javelinas are hitting .363 as a team and seem to be getting better and better as the year goes along.

“Right now, it does not even bother us if we are down by five runs,” said head coach Jason Gonzales. “We think that we can get that back and still win.”

It was a remarkable turnaround for Kingsville, who placed four players on the first team after being completely shutout last season.

Eric Krause
Krause named MCC Pitcher of the year

© East County
OSKALOOSA, Iowa (5-22-10) — The awards continue to arrive for former Granite Hills High standout ERIC KRAUSE, who now performs for William Penn University.

Following a Final Four appearance at the California state community college championships for Southwestern College, Krause continued his excellence with the Statesmen, earning Pitcher of the Year award in the Midwest Collegiate Conference.

A three-time MCC Pitcher of the Week, the junior finished 2010 with an 8-1 record and a 2.76 earned run average in 75 innings of work. Krause tallied 87 strikeouts with only nine walks and opponents hit just .229 against him.

He was especially dominant in the league, owning a 5-1 mark with a 1.95 ERA, striking out 60 with only three base on balls.

In addition, the 2010 MCC Gold Glove Team featured Krause and his battery mate, catcher Eddie Sobczak.

Krause three-peats

Courtesy, William Penn Media Relations
OSKALOOSA, Iowa (5-12-10) — ERIC KRAUSE, a graduate of Granite Hills High and Southwestern College, concluded his junior campaign with another solid performance, netting him Midwest Collegiate Conference Pitcher of the Week laurels, the league office announced Monday (May 11).

Krause picked up his third league award of the spring as the Statesmen won the game he started on Friday, but lost later that day to end their 2010 season at 25-19.

The junior finished the week 1-0, helping Penn to an 11-2 win over Clarke. In seven innings of work, he gave up two runs (both earned) on four hits, striking out seven with two walks.

For the year, the staff ace was 8-1 with a 2.76 ERA in 75 innings pitched. He struck out 87 with only nine walks (9.7-to-1 K-to-BB ratio) and opponents hit just .229 against him.

Another Thomas award

© East County
KINGSVILLE, Texas (5-10-10) — CLIFTON THOMAS, the record-setting centerfielder for the Texas A&M-Kingsville baseball team, keeps adding to his trophy case of awards.

After gaining berths to the All-Lone Star Conference team and the LSC All-Tournament teams, Thomas, a product of El Cajon Valley HS and Grossmont College, was named recipient of the Gil E. Steinke Award as the college's Male Athlete of the Year for all Javalinas sports teams.

Thomas shared the honor with football player Billy Garza, and senior softball player Cassie Anderson, the program's Female Athlete of the Year.

McCoy finally standing tall with Blue Jays

By John Lott, National Post
TORONTO (5-4-10) — Looking at MIKE McCOY, you would not imagine a kid who once had hoop dreams.

Mike McCoy

But during his final year at Grossmont High School (1999), he honestly thought he had a future on the hardwood.

"I had a really good senior year in basketball - 23 points a game, six or eight assists a game, 86 three-pointers," he said. "But no recruiters."

To everybody but McCoy, the reason was obvious. Even his father had to call him on it.

"I was short," he said with a chuckle.

He still is. But that was less a barrier in the sport that gave him a long-term job and finally, at age 29, a spot on the opening-day roster of the Toronto Blue Jays.

McCoy stands 5-foot-9, weighs 175 pounds and plays six positions, which is why the Jays rewarded him for a sizzling performance in spring training. He is the proverbial 25th man on the roster, which means he will not play much and may not even stick around for long, once the inevitable Las Vegas shuttle begins.

For now, however, he fits the stereotypical description of the scrappy big-league utility guy whose performance belies his size. And after a breakout season at Triple-A last year - .307 average, 40 stolen bases, .405 on-base percentage - he figured he might have turned some heads in the front office of his employers, the Colorado Rockies.

Instead, the Rockies placed him on waivers and the Jays claimed him. Primarily a shortstop, McCoy also can play second, third and all three outfield spots. His versatility and 2009 numbers made him attractive, even more so after he batted .400 with a .486 on-base mark in spring training.

So for the first time in his career, McCoy stood along the third-base line alongside major-league teammates during pre-game ceremonies on Opening Day on Monday (Apr. 5).

After seven years in the minors and a brief September call-up with the Rockies last year (where he played in 12 games), he had to pinch himself.

"Big crowd, big ceremony," he said with a smile. "Just to be here in the big leagues on Opening Day, it was awesome. For me to make an Opening Day roster as a 34th-rounder, I was pretty happy."

Yes, the St. Louis Cardinals waited that long before drafting McCoy in 2002. He spent six years in the Cardinals' system before he was traded to Baltimore, then to the Rockies.

His minor-league career was patchy and there were times when he worried it might end before he ever sniffed the big leagues. "I've had some struggles in my career," he said. "There have been times when I was like, ‘Whoa, am I going to be able to get a job next year?' I remember in '08, I was hitting, like .200, and I'm wondering, ‘What's going on? What's going to happen to my career?' "

Then, suddenly, he snapped out of his slump, hit .343 in his last 39 games and kept up the beat for the full 2009 season.

He says his turnaround actually started in 2007 when he was still in the Cardinals' system. One of his coaches was Rick Eckstein, the brother of former Jay David Eckstein and currently the hitting coach for the Washington Nationals. Eckstein gave McCoy a curt message.

"He basically told me I'd never make it to the big leagues with my swing, trying to guide the ball and stuff," McCoy recalled. "He got me to focus on getting on top of the ball and getting more of a straight line to the ball with my swing."

The lesson stuck. "Something just clicked for me in my approach. I kind of matured as a hitter, understanding that I'm not going to drive the ball that much. I just need to get on base and steal bases."

Now his challenge is to stay sharp. Tony LaCava, Toronto 's assistant general manager, says McCoy's approach is ideal for his reserve role. "Everything he does is very compact," LaCava said. "He should play off the bench very well."

McCoy has maintained his major league status for at least a month as he has remained a Blue Jay through Monday (May 3).

Mats Mattson
(UNO photo)
Mattson produces landmark triumph
New Orleans stuns national champion LSU

© East County
BATON ROUGE, La. (4-30-10) — Following Tuesday's (Apr. 27) landmark victory, perhaps the University of New Orleans should re-think its proposal to the NCAA to drop to a non-scholarship Division III program in a few years.

Backed by a strong relief pitching stint by Grossmont High product MATS MATTSON, the Privateers rallied with four runs over the final two innings to stun 15th-ranked and defending national champion LSU, 7-4, before a Tigers crowd of 10,584 at Alex Box Stadium.

While Mattson shut down the Bayou Bengals, UNO senior Nick Schwaner belted his club-leading 15th home run in the 8th inning for the go-ahead runs to snap the ballclub's 9-game losing streak in one of biggest Division I upsets in the nation this season.

Mattson struck out two Tigers in 1 1/3 innings of relief to garner the victory. Mattson, a junior left-hander, has been one of the few bright spots for the Privateers (11-29).

Despite being a middle-reliever, Mattson now leads the pitching staff in victories (3), now owning a 7-2 overall record in his past two seasons with New Orleans. He is averaging nearly one strikeout per inning (30 Ks in 32.0 IP), while issuing just five walks.

Nick Spears
Shain Stoner
Ryan Brosnan
(SNU photos)
The Sooner Lumber Company

© East County
PLAINVIEW, Texas (4-30-10) — In a career outing, former Grossmont College standout NICK SPEARS belted two home runs and knocked in six runs in a 4-for-5 performance, leading Southern Nazarene University to a 24-14 pasting of host Wayland Baptist in a Sooner Athletic Conference contest Tuesday (Apr. 27).

The ballgame featured 11 homers, including 7 by the Red Storm (30-13).

Spears, who was named the conference top shortstop as a junior in 2009, continues stroking a hot bat. The senior is now averaging .425 for the season.

Meanwhile, Spears' pair of homers gives him 13 for the year, matching West Hills High alumni SHAIN STONER for the club lead. Stoner leads all Southern Nazarene batters with a .479 batting average, while is just one behind Spears for the RBI lead with 56.

Also playing for SNU is RYAN BROSNAN (Santana), who is batting .285 after missing half of his freshman season at Grossmont College with a broken hand after hitting .321 for the Griffins.

Eric Krause
(WPU photo)
Krause named top dog – again

© East County
OSKALOOSA, Iowa (4-20-10) — Former East County standout ERIC KRAUSE was chosen the Midwest Collegiate Conference Pitcher of the Week for the second straight week.

The Granite Hills High alum hurled eight scoreless frames for William Penn (Iowa) University last week, including a complete game six-hit, 7-inning shutout with nine strikeouts in beating Iowa Wesleyan.

Krause raised his season record to 7-1 while lowering his ERA to 2.45. The junior right-hander has 66 strikeouts in 56 innings for the Statesmen (22-13).

Statesmen's Krause makes statement

© East County
OSKALOOSA, Iowa (4-17-10) — Former Granite Hills High-Southwestern College pitcher ERIC KRAUSE tossed two strong games to earn Midwest Collegiate Conference Baseball Pitcher of the Week laurels for the league-leading William Penn University Statesmen.

Krause picked up his first career league award as the NAIA Statesmen (20-12, 10-4 MCC) went 5-1 last week. The junior right-hander went 2-0 during his week of honor. He gave up just one run (earned) on nine hits in 13 2/3 innings while striking out 16 with only one walk. Opponents hit only .188 against him.

For the season, the Statesmen’s ace is 6-1 with a 2.81 ERA. His six wins and 57 strikeouts in 48 innings lead all MCC pitchers.

Clifton Thomas
(TA&MK photo)
Thomas was named LSC Player of the Week for this effort.
Ex-Griff Thomas hits for cycle

© East County
ADA, Okla. (4-19-10) – Former El Cajon Valley High-Grossmont College outfielder CLIFTON THOMAS hit for the cycle Friday (Apr. 16), leading Texas A&M-Kingsville to a 12-7 Lone Star Conference victory over East Central (Okla.).

Thomas singled in the 1st inning, led off the 5th with his seventh homer, began the 6th with his sixth triple and doubled in the 7th.

In the 7th, it looked like Thomas would not have a chance to hit for the cycle when the first two Hoggie batters made outs. Trent Wagner was then hit by a pitch to give Thomas a chance and the senior center fielder came through with a double to complete the cycle.

The Javelinas finished the game with 15 hits. Thomas went 4-for-5 with four runs and two RBI.

Griffin receives WCC honor

© East County
SAN BRUNO (3-30-10) — Former Grossmont High standout AARON GRIFFIN shared this week's West Coast Conference pitcher of the week honor following one of the best pitching efforts of the season for Loyola Marymount.

Facing powerful Cal State Fullerton, Griffin, a freshman right-hander, tossed his first career complete game, leading the Lions past the Titans, 4-2. Griffin carried a shutout into the 9th, then hung on to defeat a team which owns three College World Series titles.

He used 119 pitches (73 strikes) to record the triumph. He faced 34 hitters and retired 15 of 16 batters from the second through the seventh, including 10 straight from the fourth into the seventh.

Griffin (2-1) allowed seven hits, a walk and two runs while striking out five. The complete game was the first for LMU since Lee Roberts tossed nine against Gonzaga on May 15, 2009.

Thomas continues hitting tear

© East County
KINGSVILLE, Texas (3-22-10) – In perhaps the biggest weekend of his collegiate career, former El Cajon Valley High and Grossmont College standout CLIFTON THOMAS batted a smooth .706 (12-for-17) to lead Texas A&M-Kingsville to a 3-1 series victory over Northeastern State (Okla.) at Nolan Ryan Field.

Included was a doubleheader sweep on Sunday (Mar. 21), when Thomas ignited a late comeback after trailing 6-2 in the 6th inning of the opener. The senior registered the first of several consecutive run-scoring basehits with two outs to tie the ballgame for the Javelinas

Earlier, Thomas smacked a home run in a 2-for-4 outing.

He then capped the twinbill with a 4-for-4 outing to stun the visiting Riverhawks. He added three runs, two stolen bases and a pair of RBI to cap the series with totals of eight runs and four stolen bases to go along with his dozen basehits.

Eagles alum Ward signs pro contract

© East County
ESCONDIDO (3-22-10) — The Barona-San Diego Stars semipro baseball team announced that former Granite Hills High and Grossmont College pitcher GABE WARD, who most recently played collegiately at Cal Lutheran, has signed a professional baseball contract with the independent Oakland County Cruisers (Waterford Township, Mich.). MORE
Alex Rosenthal
(AAU photo)
Helix alum garners school's first-ever victory

© East County
PHOENIX (3-17-10) — It took a lot longer than expected, but the new baseball program at Academy of Art University in San Francisco finally owns its first-ever baseball victory. And the winning pitcher hails from East County.

When the history of Urban Knights baseball is penned, it will be former Helix High standout ALEX ROSENTHAL who will be denoted as gaining the first win after AAU downed host Grand Canyon University, 5-4, in the second game of a Pacific West Conference (NCAA Division II) doubleheader held March 12 at Brazell Stadium.

Rosenthal (1-4) pitched five strong innings with four strikeouts, with only two of the runs allowed earned. Then the bullpen maintained the advantage with 1-hit relief to defeat the Antelopes, a former NCAA Division I program.

“I’m happy for the kids,” said head coach Brian Guinn. “They’ve been battling really hard throughout the year and last year. To get that first victory takes that weight off their shoulders. Now they can go out and play baseball and do what they’re capable of doing. They’re pretty excited.”

Rosenthal, a sophomore transfer from Grossmont College, also got it done with the bat as well. He went 2-for-4 (.500) in two of the 4-game series split against Grand Canyon, with a run and a double. He also posted a .750 slugging percentage.

For his efforts, Rosenthal, an Illustration major, gained mention on the honor roll as one of the Pac West's players of the week.

AAU, which went 0-30 during its 2009 debut campaign, saw its losing streak hit 43 straight before the breakthrough triumph over the weekend.

Selik tabbed Big 12
pitcher of the week

© East County
LAWRENCE, Kan. (3-8-10) — Former Grossmont College standout CAMERON SELIK, who pitched two seasons for the Griffins in 2006-07, has made a remarkable comeback following Tommy John surgery, recently being named Big 12 Conference pitcher of the week for the period ending Feb. 27.

The University of Kansas right-hander collected three quick victories to open the season, posting a 1.40 earned-run average in 19 1/3 innings. Included were a pair of victories in the Week 1 to share the Big 12 citation with Texas right-hander Cole Green.

Selik allowed an unearned run and two hits over six innings in the second game of a doubleheader against Eastern Michigan at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn. He struck out five without issuing a walk, as the Patrick Henry High alum just missed a career high for strikeouts, set last season against both San Diego State and Northern Colorado.

Then on Feb. 27, Selik scattered six hits and one run over 7 1/3 innings to top Sacramento State in a contest held at the Peoria (Ariz.) Sports Complex, the spring training home of the San Diego Padres.

Selik was tendered his Jayhawks scholarship after making a comeback playing summer ball in the semipro Western Baseball Association with East County's Barona-San Diego Stars, who participated in the NBC World Series.

Clifton Thomas
(TAMK courtesy photo)

LSC honor
for Thomas

Special to East County Sports
RICHARDSON, Texas (3-10-10) — Texas A&M-Kingsville senior centerfielder CLIFTON THOMAS was named the Diamond Hitter of the Week by the Lone Star Conference on Wednesday.

Thomas, a Journalism major, flashed his power stroke last week as he had seven extra base hits in a four game series with Eastern New Mexico. After driving in one run and scoring another in the series opener he caught fire. He went 3-for-6 in Game 2 with three runs and two RBI’s. He missed hitting for the cycle by a single. In Saturday’s first game he went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a triple, two runs and two RBI’s. He finished the series with a 2-for-5 performance that included two runs, an RBI and a triple. He went 1-for-5 with a run scored on Tuesday against A&M-International. He finished the week with three doubles, three triples and a home run. He is currently on a seven-game hitting streak and has scored in a run in each of his last six games.

Thomas enjoys big weekend

© East County
PORTALES, N.M. (3-8-10) — The college baseball season is only a month old, yet former El Cajon Valley High and Grossmont College standout CLIFTON THOMAS continues to be red-hot while playing for Texas A&M-Kingsville.

Over the weekend, Thomas batted .474 (9-for-19) with seven extra-base hits during a trio of top-notch performances, leading the Javalinas to a 3-game sweep of Eastern New Mexico.

On Friday (Mar. 5), Thomas, the starting center fielder for the Hoggies (12-9, 8-8 Lone Star Conference), missed hitting for the cycle by a mere single, registering a double and a triple after hitting his second home run of the season to lead-off the ballgame.

Thomas threw out an ENMU runner attempting to stretch a single into a double, nailing the Greyhounds batter by more than 10 feet according to a school press release.

A day later, Thomas batted 5-for-9 with two doubles and a pair of triples during a doubleheader sweep.

In all, the senior collected three doubles, three triples, a homer and six RBI in the series. For the season, Thomas is now hitting .358 with 20 runs and 13 stolen bases through 21 contests.

TAMK opens a 10-game homestand at Nolan Ryan Field on Tuesday (Mar. 9), hosting Texas A&M-International.

Tanida powers Fullerton past Long Beach St.

© East County
FULLERTON (2-24-10) — Former Helix High catcher ZACH TANIDA provided the spark for Cal State Fullerton Sunday (Feb. 21) as the Titans won their first baseball game of the season by beating Long Beach State 8-1.

Making his debut at CSUF, Tanida scored the go-ahead run in the 5th inning after leading off with a double. Tanida scored two runs for the Titans (1-2). He spent the first two years of his college career at San Diego Mesa College.

Tanida will make an appearance in San Diego from Mar. 11-14 when the Titans participate in the San Diego State Tournament. CSF will meet Fresno State (Mar. 11), the host Aztecs (Mar. 12), USD (Mar. 13 at USD) and Alabama-Birmingham (Mar. 14).

Haar's slam lifts No. 19 Toreros

© East County
SAN DIEGO (2-23-10) — University of San Diego sophomore infielder BRYAN HAAR, a product of Grossmont High, batted at a .438 clip (7 for 16) as the 19th-ranked Toreros claimed a 3-1 opening series edge over visiting Indiana (Feb. 19-22).

After four games, Haar has two home runs and six RBI, including a grand slam in the Toreros' 16-10 victory in the opener.

An All-WCC pick as a freshman when he batted .298 and finished second with 38 RBI, the 6-foot-3 Haar normally plays first base but spends some time as USD’s shortstop.

     Ex-Hiller shines for Palomar

© East County
MISSION VIEJO (2-23-10) — Grossmont High alum LEVI STEVENS, a freshman left-hander at Palomar College, has been just short of perfect for the Comets this year.

In Monday’s (Feb. 22) makeup game at Saddleback, Stevens pitched the last four innings in relief as the visiting Comets clipped the Gauchos, 4-1. Stevens gave up one run (unearned) to record the save. He has an ERA of 0.00 for seven innings pitched on the season.

O'Sullivan injured vs. No. 22 Oklahoma

© East County
SAN DIEGO (2-20-10) – The first start as part of the weekend rotation on the San Diego State pitching staff for RYAN O'SULLIVAN (Valhalla High) failed to last very long. And it had nothing to do with facing 22nd-ranked Oklahoma.

O'Sullivan, on just his 12th pitch of the evening, walked off the mound with severe elbow pain and was removed from a game eventually won by the Sooners, 9-5, to complete a doubleheader sweep.

According to SDSU media relations to an email statement, "It's something with (O'Sullivan's) right elbow but they're not sure of the extent of the injury. He was supposed to start at shortstop tomorrow, but that won't happen now."

On the potentially plus side, O'Sullivan was found sitting along the rail of the Aztecs dugout late in the contest, yet without ice or any other medical device to support his pitching arm.

The statement also noted that O'Sullivan, a sophomore, will be further examined by the medical staff on Monday.
Eddie Young (left) and Trevor Frank
(Courtesy, UCR Highlanders)
UCR's Young to visit SDSU

© East County
RIVERSIDE (2-21-10) — Former Christian High standout EDDIE YOUNG stroked a key RBI single in the 3rd inning, staking UC Riverside to a 6-0 lead en route to downing Brigham Young in Friday's (Feb. 19) season-opening baseball doubleheader.

Young, who missed most of the 2009 season following a head injury after getting struck in the head by a line drive during practice, has bounced back strongly. The sophomore has gained starts at second base and designated hitter for the undefeated Highlanders (3-0).

He elected to sign with the Highlanders after getting drafted out of Christian by the Chicago White Sox.

Also on the UCR roster is freshman pitcher TREVOR FRANK, who was on Valhalla High's 2006 SDCIF championship team under then head coach STEVE PERDUE, who now heads the program at Foothills Christian.

UC Riverside hosts Bethune-Cookman on Monday (Feb. 22), then visits Tony Gwynn Stadium on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. ballgame against SDSU.

Aztecs drop opener to No. 22 Sooners
O'Sullivan makes '10 debut Saturday

© East County
SAN DIEGO (2-20-10) – Addison Reed, the 2009 National Stopper of the Year, made his first collegiate start but took the loss as 22nd-ranked Oklahoma opened the NCAA baseball season by rallying past San Diego State, 7-4, Friday (Feb. 19) at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

Reed, a junior who was a consensus All-American, carried a 3-2 lead into the 5th inning, but allowed a pair of runs before getting lifted following a career-long stint of 4 1/3 innings.

The Sooners received home runs by Garrett Buechele and Cameron Seitzer to key the comeback.

For the Aztecs, freshman DH Blair Moore went 2-for-3 with a single and double in his collegiate debut. Matt Parker and Cory Vaughn had two hits apiece for the Aztecs.

The teams play a doubleheader here on Saturday (Feb. 20) at 1 p.m., with Valhalla High product RYAN O'SULLIVAN expected to start.

O'Sullivan (4-4, 1 save, 6.79), who is also SDSU's regular at shortstop, moves into the weekend rotation this season after serving as a mid-week starter during his freshman season of 2009.

Thomas matches school record in A&M opener

© East County
KINGSVILLE, Texas (2-7-10) – Former El Cajon Valley High standout CLIFTON THOMAS opened his senior season at Texas A&M-Kingsville in record-setting fashion.

Thomas, the starting centerfielder, equaled a school record by stealing four bases in the season opener, lifting the Javelinas to a doubleheader sweep of University of Houston-Victoria, 8-2 and 10-0, on Friday (Feb. 5) at Nolan Ryan Field.

Thomas batted 3-for-5 in the opener, including a pair of RBI, aiding a pair of scoring rallied with his thefts. He jump-started the offense in the 3rd inning when he reached via bunt single, stole second and third before registering the first run of the season.

In the 7-inning nightcap, Thomas added two more steals against the Jaguars, placing him on pace to top his personal best of 26 steals in a season set last spring; the Hoggies' school mark is 28.

Former Kingsville star and current San Diego Padres pitcher MIKE ADAMS tossed the ceremonial first pitch.

Blondin tabbed NAIA preseason All-America

© East County
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (12-15-09) — It's never too early for baseball, as the NAIA released its preseason rankings and the preseason All-America team – both with a distinctive East County flavor.

Former Grossmont College standout ROSS BLONDIN not only landed a first-team berth along with his Lubbock Christian teammate R.L. Eisenbach, the defending national champion Chapparels gained the No. 1 ranking in the 2010 NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll.

The Chaps, who finished last year with a 52-8 record and its second NAIA World Series title, gathered 23 of the possible 24 first-place votes and 684 total points. National runner-up Point Loma Nazarene captured the No. 2 ranking with 649 total points, followed by Oklahoma City, Southern Poly State (Ga.) and Lee (Tenn.).

The Preseason All-America team was chosen by the NAIA All-America Selection Committee. O'Sullivan named "general manager" for
inaugural SDSU Red-Black World Series

Free events includes complimentary car wash

© East County
SAN DIEGO (11-17-09) — San Diego State pitcher RYAN O'SULLIVAN is one of four current members of the Aztecs baseball team granted a managerial roll in the first SDSU Red-Black World Series.

The series, which completes the fall practice session, will consist of a trio of nine-inning contests over three days and is open to the public free of charge.

The three-game series will commence on Thursday (Nov. 19) at 2 p.m. at Tony Gwynn Stadium. Subsequent contests are schedule for Friday (Nov. 20) at 6 p.m. and Saturday (Nov. 21) at 1 p.m. The team will have full batting practice and infield before each of the first two games with no batting practice prior to Saturday’s contest.

An autograph session will be held after the final game of the series on Saturday and fans will also have a chance to meet the 2010 Aztecs squad during a free car wash that is open to the public on Sunday from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. at the stadium.

Each team in the series has been appointed an “owner” and “general manger” who will preside over the Series draft which will take place on Wednesday (Nov. 18). O'Sullivan, a sophomore, and junior CORY VAUGHN ("owner") serve one team as the GM and owner, while senior Pat Colwell and sophomore Brandon Meredith are the GM and owner of the other ballclub.

Rosters and pitching rotations will be available following the draft.

Following the Red-Black World Series, the team will be idle until it resumes practice in February. The Aztecs will open their 2010 campaign on Friday, February 19, against Oklahoma at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

Titans tab Tanida

© East County
LA MESA (8-31-09) — Cal State Fullerton baseball coach Dave Serrano caught Helix High alum ZACH TANIDA by surprise when he called Highlanders’ baseball coach COLE HOLLAND and offered the catcher out of San Diego Mesa College a chance to catch for one of the nation’s top college programs.

A versatile baseball player for the Olympians, Tanida continue his education and baseball career with the NCAA Division I power Titans.

“Coach Serrano called us and wanted Zach to come up and play for him,” Holland said. “It was an opportunity that none of us expected.”

Tanida batted .345 (51 for 148) with one home run and 31 RBI last season for Mesa.

Granite Hills' Eric Krause (circa 2007)
(East County file photo)
Former Eagles great accepts scholarship
Krause set Granite Hills mark with 32 career wins

© East County
OSKALOOSA, Iowa (8-19-09) — ERIC KRAUSE, a former Player of the Year, has accepted a baseball scholarship to William Penn University. Krause, who was an all-state pitcher at both the high school (Granite Hills, 2007) and community college (Southwestern, 2009) levels, is projected to be a starting pitcher for the Statesmen next season.

Krause, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound right-hander, was named to the All-Grossmont South League team in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and was also a three-time honoree to the team during that period. He established a Granite Hills record for career wins with 32, leading the Eagles to the San Diego CIF Division I championship in 2007.

William Penn finished as Midwest Classic Conference champions and advanced to the regional NAIA Regional playoffs last season.

Krause just finished a summer campaign with the San Diego Force that included a trip to the NBC World Series in Wichita, Kan. While on the Force, he compiled a record of 5-1, and was named the team's pitcher of the year in leading the semipro ballclub to the Western Baseball Association crown. At Southwestern College, Krause compiled a 6-3 record with a 4.66 ERA in 2009.

Former Griffins making progress

© East County
EL CAJON (8-9-09) — Former East County standouts JOSH MAZZOLA, SHANE KAUFMAN, LANCE JANKE and JOHNNIE LOWE, all 2006 graduates of the Grossmont College baseball team, are currently making a strong showing at the minor league level.

Mazzola, a 23-year-old first baseman for the San Francisco Giants’ South Atlantic League (Class A) affiliate Augusta Greenjackets, is proving to be a big time RBI man. While compiling a .270 average in 381 at-bats, Mazzola, a product of Santana High, has driven in 82 runs with 103 hits. Included in his totals are 13 home runs and 25 doubles.

Kaufman, a 6-foot, 185-pound right-hander out of Santana High, also began the season pitching for the Greenjackets before receiving a promotion to the Giants’ Eastern League (Double-A) farmclub, the Connecticut Defenders. He’s posted a combined 4-1 record with a 5.11 ERA.

A product for the Cincinnati Reds, Janke was dominating the Midwest League as a member of the Dayton Dragons before he was recently promoted to the Class A Florida State League Sarasota ballclub. Janke, who played two seasons (2005-06) for the Griffins, posted a 5-5 mark and a 4.06 ERA for Dayton before joining Sarasota.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Lowe, a right-handed draftee in the 6th round by the Chicago White Sox in June 2007, has made rapid progress up the organizational ladder. Lowe posted a 7-5 record in 20 outings for the Double-A Birmingham Barons earlier this season. Lowe has since moved over to Double-A Winston-Salem of the Central League, where he has lost his only decision.

Baseball in the summertime

© East County
ROCHESTER, Minn. (7-28-09) — Although college baseball players don’t play an organized home schedule during the summer doesn’t mean that they aren’t busy. Many of them travel to other parts of the country to fine tune their game.

Five collegians from East County high schools are participating in The Northwoods League, a 14-team wood-bat circuit comprised of franchises from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Iowa.

Granite Hills alum and current Pepperdine sophomore outfielder BRIAN HUMPHRIES along with Grossmont High-Pacific outfielder NICK LONGMIRE are playing for the St. Cloud (Minn.) River Bats. Humphries recently earned player of the week honors with a 3-for-6 batting effort, including a game-winning single in a 9-8 victory over the Brainerd (Minn.) Lakes Area Lunkers.

Other Inlanders playing in the Northwoods League include left-handed pitcher ERIC JULIENNE (Valhalla-Cal State San Marcos), who toils for the Waterloo (Iowa) Bucks; sophomore infielder BRYAN HAAR (Grossmont-Pacific) who is a member of the Mankato (Minn.) Moondogs; and 6-foot-7, 195-pound pitcher MATS MATTSON (Grossmont High-New Orleans), who plays for Brainerd.

Senior designated hitter/catcher DANE PONCIANO (Mount Miguel High) and junior third baseman AUSTIN COLEMAN (Granite Hills), both products of Cal State San Marcos, have been named to the All-Cascade Conference baseball team and then repeated the honors by being selected to the All-NAIA West Region team.

Braves send Conrad back to AAA

© East County
GWINNETT, Ga. (7-24-09) — It’s a tough business, this baseball. Just ask Monte Vista High graduate BROOKS CONRAD.

Despite batting .344 (11-for-32) with two home runs and eight RBI in 14 games, Conrad found himself without a position when Atlanta’s veteran second baseman Kelly Johnson was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Thursday (July 23).

Thus, Conrad was sent to the Braves AAA farm club in Gwinnett. Serving as Gwinnett’s designated hitter, Conrad went 0-for-3 in a 5-1 win over Norfolk, Va.

Conrad making contact in Atlanta

© East County
ATLANTA (7-14-09) — Former Monte Vista High graduate BROOKS CONRAD has spent the majority of his professional baseball career toiling in the minor leagues.

Oh sure, he had a brief stint – 19 at-bats – with the Oakland ’s A’s during the 2008 season. But then, a .158 batting average is obviously not a high enough caliber to keep one in the big leagues.

The A’s gave Conrad his release following last season and the Atlanta Braves signed him as a free agent on Nov. 18, 2008.

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox sees a positive upside for the switch-hitting Conrad, whose primary position is second base.

“Fans will love this kid," Cox told “He's all-out all the time. He's one of those gritty old-timers. He's not old, don't get me wrong, but he plays like the old-timers."

The 29-year-old Conrad was batting an unspectacular .259 (67-for-259) with 9 home runs and 38 RBI at Triple-A Gwinnett, Ga. Yet, Cox had a feeling Conrad was ready to have a breakout year. The first step of that opportunity came earlier this month when Conrad was called up to the major league club.

The veteran skipper wasted little time putting Conrad in the hot seat, dispatching him as a pinch hitter. And Conrad responded with a three-run home run that gave Atlanta a 9-8 nod over the Nationals in Washington.

"[It was a] huge thrill," Conrad told "Obviously, [it's] the best experience I've ever had in the big leagues. It just feels awesome to come up and contribute right away like that."

Conrad has hit safely in eight of 10 games since joining the Braves, batting at a .355 clip with a pair of homers and eight RBI.

An eighth-round pick of the Houston Astros out of ASU in 2001, Conrad signed as a six-year Minor League free agent with the A's in December and opened some eyes with a strong spring, earning a trip to Tokyo for Oakland 's season-opening series against the Red Sox.

He was inactive for the games against Boston and opened the season with Triple-A Sacramento, where he was batting .242 with a .321 on-base percentage, 21 doubles, 21 homers and 67 RBI in 93 games for the River Cats.

"It's been a roller coaster," Conrad said, “But I'm just floating right now."

More honors for Phillips

© East County
ORANGE (6-9-09) — Chapman University senior and Grossmont High graduate TRISTAN PHILLIPS has been named to the All-West Region Division III baseball team, as selected by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA).

A second team pick, Phillips batted .416 with a team-high 64 RBI and added eight home runs and 17 doubles. Phillips' RBI total is the most by a Chapman player since 1999.

Chapman won its fifth consecutive West Region title in 2009 and finished third place at the Division III championships. The Panthers were 32-17 overall.

Tristan Phillips
(Chapman University photo)

Phillips at D-3 World Series

© East County
APPLETON, Wis. (5-24-09) — Former Grossmont High all-star TRISTAN PHILLIPS and his Chapman University teammates have split their first two games at the NCAA Division III World Series.

Thus the Panthers (31-16) need a victory over Kean University (39-10) of Union, N.J. on Sunday (May 24) to remain alive in the double-elimination tournament that concludes on Tuesday (May 26).

Chapman lost its series opener to St. Thomas (Minn.), 9-1, but rebounded to defeat Farmingdale State (N.Y.) a day later, 4-2.

Kean toppled Trinity (Conn.) 8-5 in round one only to fall to Wooster (Ohio) 14-1 on day two.

Tristan Phillips
(Chapman University photo)

Phillips advance to D-3 finals

© East County
APPLETON, Wis. (5-18-09) — TRISTAN PHILLIPS has made it clear to all those who know him, including his baseball oriented father coach ROB PHILLIPS, that the 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior Panther isn’t ready to hang up his cap regardless how Chapman fares in the NCAA Division III championships that begin Friday (May 22) and runs through Tuesday (May 26).

The Panthers (30-15) take on St. Thomas (Minn.) with a 36-12 record in the opening round of the eight team tournament on Friday at noon.

Seeded No. 6 in the eight-team West Region, the Panthers (30-15) won four of five games in the double elimination event that concluded with a 7-4 victory over George Fox (Ore.) Sunday in McMinnville, Ore.

That victory catapults Chapman into the Division III final eight for the fifth straight season.
Phillips: An independent man

© East County
ORANGE (5-17-09) — Former Grossmont High standout and current Chapman University third baseman TRISTAN PHILLIPS and eight of his teammates have been named to the Association of Division III Independents All-Independent baseball team for 2009.

Phillips was selected Independent Player of the Year and Panthers' head coach Tom Tereschuk was named Coach of the Year for the fifth consecutive season. It's Phillips' second All-Independent selection of his career.

A 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior, Phillips earned the award after leading Chapman with a .436 batting average and 60 RBI in 40 regular season games. He also had eight home runs and 14 doubles and compiled a .952 fielding percentage at third base.

Phillips’ torrid batting has carried over into the NCAA Division III West Regional Playoffs in McMinnville, Ore. where he and the Panthers are only one victory short of qualifying for the Division III World Series in Grand Chute, Wis. (May 22-26).

But first things first. Chapman (29-14), which has swept to regional wins over Tyler ( Texas ) 16-2, Cal Lutheran 7-6, and Pomona-Pitzer 5-2, needs to beat George Fox ( Ore. ) on Sunday (May 17) at noon. If the Panthers win that game, a second contest between the two clubs will follow 40 minutes following the conclusion of game one.

Phillips is batting at a .538 clip (7-for-13) with a pair of doubles and three RBI in the regionals.

His production numbers have been some of the best in Chapman history. His batting average currently ranks second all-time in school history and only two players have had more RBI in a single season.

Phillips reaches fourth NCAA D-3 regional

© East County
McMINNVILLE, Ore. (5-13-09) — Former Grossmont High School standout TRISTAN PHILLIPS will lead Chapman University into the NCAA Division III West Regional baseball playoffs Thursday (May 14) at Linfield College when the Panthers take on No. 2 seed Texas-Tyler (38-10) at 3:30 p.m.

Although the Chapman Panthers (26-14) are the four-time defending champs, they are seeded No. 5 in the six-team bracket, making them an underdog for a change.

Rounding out the six-team first round bracket are No. 1 Pomona-Pitzer (35-5), No. 3 Cal Lutheran (31-9), No. 4 George Fox (33-9) and No. 6 Hendrix (22-21). The Panthers are 2-4 against the field this season, having been swept in a three-game series by Pomona-Pitzer, splitting a pair of games with Cal Lutheran and defeating Hendrix ( Ark. ) in March.

Nobody has stopped Phillips, however. The Panthers are led by an offense that is averaging over 8.6 runs per game and batting .343. Phillips is the leader of the pack with a .436 batting average, with 8 home runs and 60 RBI.

Phillips is on track to establish several career batting records.

Temperatures in the McMinnville area have been in the high 30s, which certainly will be no advantage to Chapman.

Phillips ranks among national leaders

© East County
ORANGE (3-28-09) — Former Grossmont High standout TRISTAN PHILLIPS is tearing up NCAA Division III pitching as a senior for perennial power Chapman University.

Phillips, in fact, ranks second nationally with 48 hits and is tied for fourth in the nation with 42 RBI.

In his last two games – against Claremont-Mudd on Friday (Mar. 27) and Sunday (Mar. 22) versus Occidental – Phillips pounded four home runs and drove in a dozen runs for the Panthers (17-6).

Phillips also tops Chapman in batting average with a .478 mark and 7 home runs.

He trails only Javier Arrieta of Sul Ross State (Texas) for the NCAA Div. III lead in hits (51). The RBI race is a little more jammed up as three players are tied for first with 44 runs driven in.

Powell, Blondin, named NAIA All-America

© East County
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (6-5-09) — Former Grossmont College standouts MATT POWELL and ROSS BLONDIN have been selected among a group of 17 players as first-team members of the NAIA All-America baseball team. The team was chosen by the NAIA Baseball Coaches Association selection committee

Powell, a senior catcher who transferred from Cal State Fullerton to Southern Nazarene (Okla.), batted a career-best .451 for the Crimson Storm (37-15), including 12 homers and 65 RBI, starting in all 52 ballgames.

Powell is currently a member of the Barona-San Diego Stars semipro baseball club.

Meanwhile, Blondin helped Lubbock Christian (Texas) to the NAIA national championship. The junior third baseman batted .437 with 25 homers this season, finishing second to teammate Will Stramp (26 HRs) nationally.

Blondin also aided the Chapparals (51-8) in defeating Point Loma Nazarene, 5-1 and 11-8, for the school's second national crown at the NAIA World Series, held in Lewiston, Idaho.

In the first game, Blondin slugged a solo homer, then went 2-for-4 with three RBI in the playback final.

Notes — Former El Cajon Valley High standout CLIFTON THOMAS, who spent this past baseball season with Texas A&M-Kingsville, has been signed to play summer ball with the Brazos Valley (Bryan, Texas) Bombers of the Texas Collegiate League.

Known for his exceptional defensive ability, Thomas has also been a terror at the plate this season for the Javelinas. In 50 games, the center fielder has hit .330 with 12 doubles, 10 home runs, 37 RBI and 20 stolen bases.

Thomas was selected in the 46th round of the Major League draft by the Texas Rangers. He earned First-Team All-San Diego CIF honors during his senior season after setting an East County record with 50 stolen bases. Thomas also earned First-Team All-San Diego honors in football his senior season after catching 92 passes.

Former Griffins earn post-season honors

© East County
EL CAJON (5-13-09) — Three former Grossmont College baseball standouts have earned 2009 All-Sooner Athletic Conference awards.

Lubbock Christian University’s third baseman ROSS BLONDIN, and Southern Nazarene’s shortstop NICK SPEARS and catcher MATT POWELL all received first-team honors.

Powell, a senior catcher from La Mesa, was one of two First Team All-Conference catchers after finishing regular season play with an average of .463, which is second best on the SNU squad. Powell had 12 homers during the regular season and hit 62 RBI’s, while finishing with a slugging percentage of .815 and a school record on-base percentage of .556. Powell also earned the SAC’s Golden Glove Award as the top defensive catcher in the league.

Spears, a junior from West Hills, was chosen the SAC’s top shortstop this year and is third on the team in hitting with a .424 average. Spears has 13 homers on the year, which is second best on the team, and 67 RBI, which is second best on SNU’s squad thus far this season. Spears has scored 63 runs heading into post-season play and has a slugging percentage of .762 and an on-base percentage of .507.

Blondin, a 6-foot-3 junior third baseman, leads the LBU Chaps with 84 RBI and 22 home runs. He ranks second in the NAIA in RBI per game (1.7) and is fourth in total bases per game (3.6) and slugging percentage (.942).

UPDATE - Chaps alone in First Place
LUBBOCK, Texas (4-5-09) – The only thing close in No. 1 Lubbock Christian’s ballgame at No. 21 University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma was the program records the Chaparrals nearly set Saturday (Apr. 4).

The Chaps were a home run shy of tying a school single-game record for homers, as they used seven home runs to defeat USAO 20-1 in a game shortened to seven innings by run rule in sweep a 3-game Sooner Athletic Conference road series at Bill Smith Ballpark.

The Chaps are now in sole possession of first place in the SAC because No.2 Oklahoma City University lost at home to Oklahoma Baptist University 7-5.

Blondin hits cycle for No. 1 Chaps

© East County
ABILENE, Texas (4-1-09) — Former Grossmont College standout ROSS BLONDIN became the first player in Lubbock Christian University history to hit for the cycle Tuesday (Mar. 31), going 4-for-6 to power the Chaparrals to a 13-6 triumph over host Hardin-Simmons at John J. Hunter Field.

Ross Blondin
Blondin opened his cycle sequence with a 1st-inning, 2-out solo homer, his team-leading 16th of the season.

He later added a line double off the top of the right-centerfield wall to drive home two more runs in the 3rd. An inning later, he went down the right-field line for a triple, then completed the feat with a lead single in the 8th.

For the contest, he produced four runs and three RBI.

Blondin, who has started in all 34 games at third base, is second on the team with a .446 batting average and a massive .962 slugging percentage.

The Chaps (30-4), ranked first in the nation in the NAIA, have now won four straight contests. They are tied for lead in the Sooner Athletic Conference with a 13-2 record. FULL STORY HERE.

Nick Spears
(SNU Courtesy Photos)

Spears finds the bull's-eye

© East County
BETHANY, Okla. (2-25-09) – NICK SPEARS has made a lot of stops during his amateur baseball career.

Spears found firm footing at Poway High as a junior and senior, and finally locked in at Grossmont College last year as a sophomore. At present Spears, a junior shortstop, is tearing it up at Southern Nazarene University.

Spears is batting at a .600 clip (27-for-45) for the Crimson Storm, an NAIA team that boasts a 13-1 record. He was named Sooner Athletic Conference Player of the Week for Feb. 16-21, when he hit .667 (12-for-18) with 12 runs, two doubles, a triple, four home runs and 12 RBI.

Jusino loved in Philadelphia

© East County
PHILADELPHIA (6-3-09) — Former Grossmont College standout TONY JUSINO has been named to the All-Philadelphia Big 5 team. The selections are from the five Division I schools – Temple, Villanova, Penn, St. Joseph's and La Salle – located within the metro area.

Temple infielder Tony Jusino.
(Courtesy, Temple Owls)
Following a pair of All-Pacific Coast Conference berths with the Griffins in 2007-08, Jusino ranked third on the Temple Owls with a stellar .363 batting average, also ranking among the ballclub's leaders in nearly every offensive category, including hits (73, 2nd) doubles (19, 2nd) and RBI (39, 4th).

Jusino's top performance of the season came in an Atlantic 10 Conference game against Xavier on Apr. 24. Playing at third base, Jusino batted 4-for-5 with 5 RBI, including a grand slam for a 13-9 victory at the Owls' home of Skip Wilson Field in Ambler, Penn.

Unfortunately for Temple, following a 10-5 start in conference play (16-20 overall), the Owls lost 12 of their final 13 contests to finish at 17-32 (11-15 in the A-10).

Jusino, who played his high school ball at Rancho Bernardo before joining Grossmont College, just completed his junior year. He is a criminal justice major. MORE

Upstart Utes down Aztecs for MWC title

© East County
FORT WORTH, Texas (5-24-09) — Utah completed a remarkable run at the Mountain West Conference Tournament as it defeated San Diego State, 9-3, to claim the title and the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Regionals. The Utes became the first No. 6 tourney seed to win the championship while SDSU was the first No. 4 seed to advance to the final.

With the win, Utah improved to 26-29 while the Aztecs saw their record drop to 40-21.

San Diego State will now have to wait until Monday (May 25) when the NCAA hosts in annual tournament selection show to see if it will receive an at-large bid to the postseason. The show will be telecast live on ESPN at 9:30 a.m. (PT).

Freshman RYAN O’SULLIVAN was roughed up by the Utes on the mound and was saddled with his 4th win in eight decisions. However, the Valhalla High graduate paced the Aztecs with three hits, an RBI and one run scored.

The Utes took control of the contest when they sent 10 men to the plate and scored six times in the top of the 3rd against O’Sullivan. After striking out the first two batters, the Aztec right-hander gave up five hits and a pair of hit batters including a two-run double by Austin Jones and two-RBI single by Rick Cornu.

Two Aztecs were named to the all-tournament team at the conclusion of the contest. That twosome included third baseman/catcher Erik Castro along with starting pitcher STEPHEN STRASBURG. Castro hit .400 (8-for-20) over five games with four doubles, four runs scored and four RBI. Strasburg made one start, throwing 7.2 scoreless innings with six strikeouts in the win over New Mexico.

Aztecs go crazy in 8th
SDSU advances to MWC Tournament finale

© East County
FORT WORTH, Texas (5-22-09) — The University of Utah entered the 8th inning with a seemingly comfortable 8-1 lead in Thursday's (May 21) winners bracket final of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.

Did someone say "seemingly"?

Former Valhalla High standout RYAN O'SULLIVAN opened the bottom of the 8th with a single, the first of 13 San Diego State batters in the frame, as the Aztecs rallied to shock the Utes, 9-8, at TCU's Lupton Stadium.

The victory advances SDSU to its first tournament championship contest since 2004, as the Aztecs (40-19) reached the 40-win plateau for the first time since the 2002 season and staging their biggest rally of the season. Utah fell to 23-29.

The 8-run outburst started when O'Sullivan led off with a basehit, was bunted over to second base, then a pair of walks loaded the bases.

Then it all unraveled for Utah

Erik Castro made it an 8-3 contest with a 2-run single. A walk to Cory Vaughn re-loaded the bases before Mitch Blackburn and Matt Parker singled to drive in a run apiece and pinch hitter Chris Wilson walked to bring in another and make it 8-6.

Tyler Andersen then came on to pitch, but he fared little better than his three predecessors. O’Sullivan promptly singled up the middle to bring home a pair of runs and tie the score before Colwell doubled to left center to complete SDSU’s amazing comeback.

During the inning, the Aztecs had nine consecutive hitters reach base on five hits and four walks.

San Diego State closer Addison Reed was then called upon in the ninth and he shut down the Utes to record his nation-leading 19th save in 19 opportunities.

The winner of the challenger (losers) bracket finale between TCU and Utah, will play the Aztecs in the championship round, to be held Friday (May 22) at 5 p.m. (PT). If SDSU falls, a playback final will be played Saturday (May 23) at 1 p.m. (PT).

O'Boys make some noise

© East County
SALT LAKE CITY (5-16-09) — One brother is currently taking the professional route in his baseball career, while the other is on course for The Show through the collegiate ranks. The O'SULLIVAN brothers of Rancho San Diego found themselves just 35 miles apart in the state of Utah on Saturday (May 16) – and both turned in marvelous performances.

While older brother SEAN O'SULLIVAN was tossing seven innings of no-hit ball for the Class AAA Salt Lake Bees of the Pacific Coast League, younger bro' RYAN O'SULLIVAN had a career game with a pair of home runs and recording the save in relief for San Diego State.

King Bee stings Iowa Cubs
Sean O'Sullivan flirted with a no-hitter, while his teammates pounded out 19 hits as the Salt Lake Bees routed the Iowa Cubs 16-7 on Saturday night. O'Sullivan (3-1) allowed only one batter to reach in the first 6 1/3 innings and that was when he hit Jake Fox with a pitch in the 1st inning. Ironically, it was Fox who broke up the no-hitter with a clean single up the middle.

Sean, a 21-year-old right-hander, fanned a season-high nine batters in seven innings with one walk. He was a standout performer at Valhalla High and Grossmont College before signing as a third round pick of the Los Angeles Angels in 2006.

Younger O’Sullivan is double threat
Earlier in the day, a half-hour drive north along Interstate 15, freshman Ryan O'Sullivan lifted the Aztecs from deficits of 4-1 and 7-3 to stun Utah, 10-9 in 12 innings, in the teams' final ballgame prior to the Mountain West Conference Tournament.

Ryan, the starting shortstop, batted 3-for-5 with three runs, accounting for four RBI with his two home runs. The first-year shortstop initially torched the fences at Lindquist Field with a solo homer in the 8th inning, then added his second bomb in as many innings – a 3-run shot – with two outs on a 3-2 pitch tying the game at 7-7.

In the 12th, SDSU scored three times, but the drama was far from over though as Utah would score twice in its half of the inning and eventually load the bases with two outs.

At that point, O’Sullivan was called to the mound and got the final out. He did so by inducing C.J. Cron to ground into a fielder’s choice to nail down the victory and pick up his first collegiate save.

San Diego State (37-19) now heads to Fort Worth, Texas, for the annual Mountain West Conference Tournament hosted by TCU. As the No. 4 seed, the Aztecs will open play against UNLV on Tue., May 19, at 7 p.m. (CT) at Lupton Stadium.

O'Sullivan homers in Aztecs win

© East County
SAN DIEGO (5-12-09) — Former Valhalla High standout RYAN O'SULLIVAN was one of three San Diego State batters to homer Monday (May 11), powering the Aztecs to a 12-4 triumph over San Francisco at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

Senior Jon Berger was honored with the start in the final home game of the season for SDSU (35-18), which won for the sixth time in seven outings.

Following a shaky start which included a 3-run homer by Dons second baseman Stephen Yarrow, Berger settled in and retired 14 batters in a row. Meanwhile, the Aztecs bats rallied from a 4-2 deficit with a series of homers.

Erik Castro's 2-run homer tied the game, then Chris Wilson added another 2-run bomb, as State scored four times in the 3rd inning to take a 6-4 lead.

In the 4th, O'Sullivan launched his fourth homer of the season – his second in two days – as the Aztecs went on to score 12 runs for the second straight contest.

San Diego State will hit the road for its final Mountain West Conference series at Utah. The 3-game series will be played in Ogden, Utah, at Lindquist Field, the home of the minor league Ogden Raptors, a Rookie affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

O'Sullivan: Strasburg's future replacement?
National leader Reed equals Ring's save record

© East County
SAN DIEGO (5-10-09) — Just who will San Diego State replace as a member of its starting rotation following the expected departure of STEPEHN STRASBURG, who is odds on favorite to be the No. 1 choice in the Major League Baseball free agent draft next month.

The Aztecs may have another East County product in line following Saturday's (May 9) victory.

Former Valhalla High standout RYAN O'SULLIVAN captured his third straight victory, striking out a season-high six batters in the Aztecs’ 5-2 win over Air Force at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

O'Sullivan, a freshman, tossed the first seven innings, then relievers GOLDY SIMMONS (Monte Vista) and Addison Reed limited the Falcons to a pair of unearned runs on three hits for the team's fifth win in six outings.

Reed, who tossed a perfect 9th inning, recorded the final two outs of the game on strikeouts. The save was his nation-leading 17th of the season as he tied the San Diego State single-season record set by former Monte Vista High standout ROYCE RING during the 2002 campaign.

The Aztecs (33-13, 12-8 MWC) and Air Force (14-33, 3-14 MWC) conclude their three-game weekend series with a contest at 1 p.m. Sunday (May 10) in SDSU's final home game of the season.

The Aztecs close the regular season next weekend at Utah (May 14-16), then the Mountain West Conference Tournament will be hosted by TCU in Fort Worth, Texas (May 19-20).

Niners nixed by O'Sullivan

© East County
SAN DIEGO (4-22-09) – San Diego State freshman RYAN O'SULLIVAN (Valhalla HS), in his first start in nearly three weeks, pitched eight strong innings Tuesday (Apr. 21) to pace the 19th-ranked Aztecs to a 6-3 non-conference decision over Long Beach State at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

O'Sullivan allowed just seven hits during his stint on the mound, then sophomore closer Addison Reed recorded his nation-leading 13th save of the season for the Aztecs (27-15). The 49ers fell to 17-19.

O'Sullivan was staked to an early lead with three SDSU home runs, including a pair by sophomore outfielder Cory Vaughn, who went 3-for-4 for the contest. It was Vaughn's first multiple-HR game as an Aztec. Junior center fielder Josh Chasse also homered.

Top o' of the mound
O'Sullivan: 7 shutout innings for first collegiate victory

© East County
SAN DIEGO (3-18-09) — Sometimes it’s good to be a little bit Irish. No doubt it would be nice to have an Irish moniker if one were pitching on St. Patrick’s Day.

That combination was a perfect fit for San Diego State freshman right-hander RYAN O’SULLIVAN, who picked up his first collegiate victory as the Aztecs blanked Kansas 1-0 Tuesday (Mar. 17) night at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

Making his fourth collegiate start, O’Sullivan turned in his best performance of the season as he allowed just three hits over 7 innings with a walk and a strikeout.

After giving up a pair of hits in the 1st, O’Sullivan – a Valhalla high graduate – settled in and retired 12 batters in a row from the 2nd through 5th frames before giving up a leadoff single in the 6th. His excellence was rewarded with a victory as he evened his season record at 1-1.

The Aztecs improved to 12-6, while Kansas fell to 10-6.

Longmire ain't no paper Tiger

© East County
STOCKTON (5-14-09) — While the University of Pacific baseball team continues to struggle, Grossmont High alum NICK LONGMIRE continues to shine.

Starting all but one of the Tigers’ 51 games as a freshman and leading the team in batting average (.323), triples (3) and RBI (31), Longmire is once again at the head of the class.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Longmire leads Pacific (18-28) with a .390 batting mark. He also has four home runs and 31 RBI with a half-dozen games remaining in his sophomore season.

He earned All-Big West Conference honorable mention as a freshman and should be recognized with even higher postseason praise this year.

Longmire came to Pacific already having proven his ability to hit the long ball as he led the state of California with 15 bombs in 2007. Drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 37th round of the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft, Longmire chose instead to pursue his degree and play for the Tigers.

The Grossmont North League and Division II Player of the Year in 2007, Longmire led the Foot­hillers with a .514 batting average, 56 hits, 15 home runs, 19 stolen bases, 36 RBI and a 1.010 slugging percentage. In addition, Longmire struck out only nine times during his senior season.

Thomas named all-conference

© East County
RICHARDSON, Texas (5-8-09) – El Cajon's CLIFTON THOMAS, who now plays baseball for Texas A&M-Kingsville, was one of two Javelinas named to the All-Lone Star Conference team.

Thomas, a junior centerfielder, had an outstanding year at the plate and in the field en route to earning second-team honors. He batted .330 with a team high 49 runs, .574 slugging percentage, 10 home runs and 20 stolen bases, becoming the first player in school history to hit at least 10 home runs and steal at least 20 bases in a season.

Thomas joins exclusive club

© East County
KINGSVILLE, Texas (4-26-09) — Texas A&M-Kingsville will not repeat as Lone Star Conference baseball champions this season, nor will they advance to the NCAA Division II playoffs.

But they did enjoy a somewhat memorable season thanks to El Cajon Valley High/Grossmont College alum CLIFTON THOMAS.

On Saturday (Apr. 25), Thomas clouted a home run in the second game of a doubleheader against visiting Angelo State University, becoming the first Javelinas ballplayer to ever reach the 10/20 Club for homers and stolen bases.

His leadoff shot to open the 3rd inning allowed Thomas, a junior, to finish the year with a solid .330 batting average and a school-high .574 slugging percentage,

Thomas also stole 20 bases in 27 chances this season to reach the Barry Bonds type figures in 50 starts for the Javs (20-35).

Thomas transforms into power hitter

© East County
KINGSVILLE, Texas (4-5-09) — It's hard to believe that former El Cajon Valley High standout CLIFTON THOMAS, who fell one short of the CIF-San Diego Section record for stolen bases in 2006, is developing into a power hitter.

Former ECVHS standout Clifton Thomas (2) jogs
around the bases following his second home run
of the ballgame against Tarleton State.
(Texas A&M-Kingsville courtesy photo)
Former ECVHS standout Clifton Thomas (2)
celebrates yet another home run on Mar. 29 for
the Javelinas of Texas A&M-Kingsville. Thomas
batted 2-for-4 with six RBI. FULL STORY HERE.
Nevertheless, Thomas slugged a pair of home runs in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday (Apr. 4), powering Texas A&M-Kingsville to a split with Lone Star Conference rival Tarleton State at Nolan Ryan Field.

In the first inning, Thomas struck for a leadoff home run to right field. An inning later, who went to right-center with a 2-run shot.

In the second game, Thomas "returned" to his high school ways, when he registered a stolen base and a sacrifice fly. The centerfielder finished the doubleheader batting 5-for-9, with four runs and four RBI for the Javelinas.

For the season, Thomas is batting a solid .338, leading the ballclub with 8 homers. He also is tops in extra-base hits, second in RBI, and third in doubles. Oh, yeah, he also leads in stolen bases, too.

Clifton Thomas
(TA&M-K photo)

Thomas starts big in Lone Star Conference

© East County
KINGSVILLE, Texas (2-20-09) – Former El Cajon Valley High and Grossmont College standout CLIFTON THOMAS isn't the "Lone Star" for Texas A&M-Kingsville. The Javelinas are off to a quick start thanks a variety of community college transfers from the West.

Thomas topps the list, keying an early rally with a towering 2-run homer and also slugging a double, powering Kingsville to an 11-3 triumph over East Central University in a Lone Star Conference contest at Nolan Ryan Field.

Thomas' double came in the 1st, scoring on a basehit by Philip Johnson. An inning later, Thomas hit his homer to straightaway centerfield for a 5-0 lead. In the third, Luis Diaz (Cypress College) hit a sacrifice fly, followed by an RBI triple by Will Mettlach.

Later, Thomas Miller (Western Nevada CC) slugged a lead home in the 5th for a 7-0 lead.

For the contest, Thomas scored three runs and drove in a pair for the defending conference champions. He ranks second on the ballclub in extra-base hits, while leading the conference with a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts.

Thomas earned First Team all-East County honors as a junior and senior. He was named First Team all-San Diego during his senior year. He set an East County record for stolen bases in a season (50) and led the county in batting average. He was drafted in the 46th round by the Texas Rangers in 2006.

In addition, Thomas earned First Team all-East County and all-San Diego honors in football as a senior with 92 pass receptions.

Garrett Jenner

Jenner on record home run pace

© East County
DAVENPORT, Iowa (4-16-09) — Former Grossmont College standout GARRETT JENNER slugged a 2-run homer to right field Tuesday (Apr. 14), capping a 6-run rally to give William Penn University a 10-3 triumph over St. Ambrose in Midwest Collegiate Conference action.

For Jenner, a resident of Jamul, it was his Statesmen leading 12th homer of the season, keeping the junior on pace to equal the school record of 17, set by Bill Holman in 1992.

The team's fourth straight victory moved William Penn (25-11, 10-4 MCC) into a first-place deadlock with Mount Mercy.

For the season, Jenner is among the conference leaders with a .366 batting average and 37 RBI.

East County Players at Four-Year Schools 2009
Name High School/JC College Team Page
Don Anderson Granite Hills Lindenwood (MO) Lions
Donald Arthur Steele Canyon San Diego Christian Hawks
Zach Barger Valhalla/GC Concordia Eagles
Derek Baum Grossmont HS U. of the Pacific Tigers
Ross Blondin Grossmont College Lubbock Christian Chaparrals
David Bristol West Hills CSU San Marcos Coyotes
Andrew Bruder Steele Canyon Cal Poly Mustangs
Austin Coleman Granite Hills CSU San Marcos Coyotes
Brandon Decker Granite Hills San Diego State Aztecs
Greg Garcia Valhalla Hawai'i Rainbows
A.J. Griffin Grossmont HS U. San Diego Toreros
Bryan Haar Grossmont HS U. San Diego Toreros
Brandon Haley Santana Avila University (MO) Eagles
Brian Humphries Granite Hills Pepperdine Waves
Ryan Inverso El Capitan San Diego Christian Hawks
Joe Inzone Steele Cyn/G'mont CC West Texas A&M Buffaloes
Garrett Jenner Steele Cyn/G'mont CC William Penn (Iowa) Statesmen
Kyle Johnson Steele Canyon George Fox (OR) Bruins
Bradley Johnston Christian HS San Diego Christian Hawks
Eric Julienne Valhalla CSU San Marcos Coyotes
Tony Jusino Grossmont CC Temple Owls
Nick Longmire Grossmont HS U. of the Pacific Tigers
Marco Mariscal El Capitan Dartmouth Big Green
Joel Matthews Christian HS Lee University (TN) Flames
Mats Mattson Grossmont HS U. New Orleans Privateers
Travis McCleary Mountain Empire Point Loma Nazarene Sea Lions
Blaze McEntee Helix San Diego Christian Hawks
Eric McKnight West Hills UC San Diego Tritons
Josh Miller
Granite Hills/GC CSU San Marcos Coyotes
Cody Minich Steele Canyon U. Sioux Falls (S.D.) Cougars
Bryan Mitchell Christian HS The Master's Mustangs
Danny Mitchell Christian HS San Diego Christian Hawks
Steve Noble Valhalla Wheaton College (Ill.) Thunder
Johnny Omahen Granite Hills CSU San Marcos Coyotes

Ryan O'Sullivan

Valhalla San Diego State Aztecs
Tristan Phillips Grossmont HS Chapman Panthers
Charlie Piro Grossmont HS Chapman Panthers
Dane Ponciano
Mount Miguel/GC CSU San Marcos Coyotes
Matt Powell Helix/Grossmont CC Southern Nazarene (OK) Crimson Storm
Eddie Pryor West Hills San Diego Christian Hawks
Chris Rabichaud Santana Simpson University Red Hawks
Aaron Richardson West Hills/G'mont CC West Texas A&M Buffaloes
David Ruiz Grossmont CC William Penn (Iowa) Statesmen
Garrett Russell Granite Hills N.M. Highlands Cowboys
Louis Russo El Capitan CSU San Marcos Coyotes
Kyle Secciani Grossmont HS UC Riverside Highlanders
Cameron Selik Henry/Grosmsont CC Kansas Jayhawks
Josh Simms Grossmont HS U. of the Pacific Tigers
Nick Spears Grossmont CC Southern Nazarene (OK) Crimson Storm
Stephen Strasburg West Hills San Diego State Aztecs
Clifton Thomas El Cajon Valley Texas A&M Kingsville Javelinas
Eddie Young Christian HS UC Riverside Highlanders
Jeremiah White Mount Miguel Baker University (KS) Wildcats
Taylor Wohlwend Grossmont HS UNC Asheville Bulldogs
Tyler Zickel West Hills Whittier Poets

Ryan O'Sullivan chooses Aztecs over Giants

© East County
EL CAJON (9-3-08) — When classes began at San Diego State University on Tuesday (Sept. 2), Aztecs baseball skipper Tony Gwynn was glad to see freshman RYAN O'SULLIVAN toting an arm-load of books.

O’Sullivan, a 10th round draft pick of the San Francisco Giants last June, turned down the professional team’s offer to accept a baseball scholarship to SDSU.

“We put a number (desired signing bonus) out there at the beginning of the summer,” O’Sullivan said. “The Giants finally made an offer close to what we wanted a day or so before the final signing date. But by then my feelings had changed.”

O’Sullivan shunned the Giants and instead will play shortstop and occasionally pitch for the Aztecs for a minimum of the next three years.

“Shortstop is my first love,” said O’Sullivan, who noted the Giants drafted him as a pitcher. “I want to get myself known as an everyday player. I want to work on getting stronger... perfecting my game. I’ll be able to do that at SDSU.”

O’Sullivan spent the majority of his summer playing wood bat baseball in the Northwoods League. He hammered five homers and logged 24 RBI in 146 at-bats.

“I don’t regret my decision to choose college over pro ball at this time in my life,” he said. “I feel in my heart that I made the right decision.”

He’ll look into his pro future some time before June 2012.

O’Sullivan enjoys banner night

Special to East County
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (8-4-08) — Valhalla High’s RYAN O’SULLIVAN put together one of the best statistical lines of any Northwoods Collegiate League (NWL) player this summer in the Eau Claire Express’ 19-0 destruction of the Madison Mallards on Sunday (Aug. 3).

It started with a three-run home run in the 1st inning, O'Sullivan's fourth consecutive game with a homer. He added three more hits, all doubles, in his next four at-bats to go with a walk in his other plate appearance. Overall, O'Sullivan finished 4-for-5 with six RBI and three runs scored.

O’Sullivan topped off the evening by tossing three innings and allowing just two hits while striking out three. O'Sullivan, a 10th round draft pick of the San Francisco Giants, is an incoming freshman to San Diego State University.

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