SBVC soccer standout headed to Redlands

San Bernardino Valley College sophomore soccer standout Mario Villafana (Summit HS) has chosen to stay close to home and will attend and play at the University of Redlands.

Villafana, a defender who helped contribut to 10 shutouts, earned second team All-Foothill Conference honors in helping the Wolverines to their first conference title and first playoff berth since 1994. The team went 14-4-3 overall and 6-2 in conference play.

The Bulldogs are coming off a 20-3-2 showing that included a SCIAC title and a berth in the NCAA Division III Sweet 16.

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps softball team the one to beat

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps may have finished second to the University of Redlands in the regular season but it is the Athenas softball team looking pretty good after one day of play at the four-team double-elimination conference tournament.

CMS is the only team without a loss after defeating Pomona-Pitzer 9-2 and Whittier 5-2.

Pomona-Pitzer was the first team eliminated as the loss to the local rival Athenas was followed by an 11-0 shellacking by Redlands. But make no mistake about it, this is a team on the rise. It has a handful of talented freshmen that will have an impact for years to come.

Redlands was upset by fourth-seeded Whittier 5-1 to start the day. So the Bulldogs have their work cut out for them. The good news for the Bulldogs is that their playoff life will probably go on whether they come through on Saturday or not. They have a good enough resume to get an at-large bid if they don’t win the automatic berth that comes with the conference tournament. The same can’t be said for ther teams.

It’s always interesting to see what coaches do with their pitching on the second day of a double-elimination tournament.

So the schedule for today: 10 a.m. Redlands vs. Whittier – the loser is out

12:30 p.m. – Claremont-Mudd-Scripps vs. the winner of that early game. A deciding game will follow if the loser’s bracket team hands the Athenas a loss.


Leopards claim SCIAC crown in baseball

The University of La Verne finished the job.

The Leopards turned in a 3-0 win over Whittier today which gives them the SCIAC title outright. La Verne had a bit of hiccup early in the round robin play losing a couple of games which helped keep a hot Pomona-Pitzer team in the running. But it’s over.

And the Leopards (25-13, 20-7 SCIAC) did it in dramatic fashion, securing the title by defeating a pitcher in Ryan Schwenn who no-hit them last time he faced them.

Remember this is the team without a home, so being able to secure a title is all the more noteworthy.

It is the 20th for the program and fourth under current coach Scott Winterburn.

Road warriors trying to hold on for conference title

The University of La Verne baseball team seemed in pretty good shape in the SCIAC a week or so ago but three straight losses have put the Leopards in a more precarious situation.

Sure the Leopards are in the preferable position of first place. It’s up to the other teams to try and play catch up. The Leopards lost to Pomona-Pitzer 8-2 today and it wasn’t really even that close.

So the Leopards are 23-13 and 18-7 in SCIAC play with games left against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Whittier and Cal Lutheran.

Pomona-Pitzer (22-12, 16-9) has a bit of an easier trek with a game left with lowly Caltech, CMS and Redlands.

Then there’s Cal Lutheran (20-13, 15-9) which has La Verne, Caltech, Occidental and Redlands.

La Verne has to be most worried about Pomon-Pitzer because it split that series, 2 games each. The Leopards won their first three games vs. Cal Lutheran so they already have that head-to-head tiebreaker.

It’s about to get interesting. La Verne is also likely to face top pitchers the rest of the way and the one from Whittier no-hit them the last time.

History might be a bit ominous. Call it the even-year crash and burn. in 2008 Pomona-Pitzer had a nice lead, only to lose its last six games, the title being decided with a loss on the final day, to of all teams, La Verne.

In 2010 Redlands lost five of its last six, dropping five in a row before ending the season with a win over Caltech. Pomona-Pitzer walked away the champion.

So now its 2012. Well . . .

It would be nice to see the Leopards finish the job. At the risk of being called a homer, the Leopards have prevailed in a tough situation, playing every game on the road with no home field to call their own, not just for this year but next year too.

They have never once complained or used that disadvantage as an excuse.




Former Coyote back on right track

It looks like former Cal State San Bernardino basketball player  Ivan Johnson is back in the good graces of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. It’s amazing what a moment of reflection can do for an individual.

Johnson, a 27-year-old rookie with a temperamental past,  has turned into a valuable contributor for a Hawks team that looks very much like a playoff contender despite a plethora of injuries.

But then last week he was sent home from a road trip a couple of days early after a verbal altercation on the bench during a game at Boston.Coach Larry Drew played down the incident and Johnson rejoined the team at practice when it returned from the road trip.

That practice seemed to go well and Drew and Johnson, by all media accounts, said everything was OK again and any issues had been addressed and were a thing of the past.

Well Johnson’s performance in back-to-back games against the Toronto Raptors would seem to indicate that is indeed true. Johnson scored 14 points and snagged seven rebounds  with three assists and three steals in a 102-86 loss.

The tonight he followed up with a career-high 21 that came on 9-for-13 shooting from the field and a 3-for-4 from the line. He also had eight rebounds as the Hawks beat the same team they had just lost to, 109-87.

Maybe that couple of days away was a reality check that he might really blowing his chance. Let’s hope so. A lot of 27-year-old rookies don’t get a chance, let alone two.


CPP’s Bosson named Pitcher of the Week

Cal Poly Pomona junior right-hander Kevin Bosson has been named the California Collegiate Athletic Association’s (CCAA) baseball Pitcher of the Week for the week of Apr. 9-15.

Bosson, a Claremont High School graduate, turned in a complete-game victory in his lone outing of the week against Cal State Stanislaus. In nine innings, he allowed four hits, no earned runs, did not walk a batter and struck out seven during a 4-2 Broncos win.

Cal State Monterey Bay’s Jesse Olson was the CCAA Player of the Week

CCAA Baseball Pitchers of the Week:

Jan. 30 – Feb. 5: Geoff Broussard (Cal Poly Pomona)

Feb. 6-12: Kagen Hopkins (Chico State)

Feb. 13-19: Aaron Appino (Cal State Monterey Bay)

Feb. 20-26: Ryan Goodbrand (UC San Diego)

Feb. 27 – Mar. 4: Troy Neiman (Chico State)

Mar. 5-11: Jeff Owen (Cal State Monterey Bay)

Mar. 12-18: Branden Petrangelo (San Francisco State)

Mar. 19-25: Geoff Broussard (Cal Poly Pomona)

Mar. 26 – Apr. 1: Thomas Lee (Sonoma State)

Apr. 2-8: Kagen Hopkins (Chico State)

Apr. 9-15: Kevin Bosson (Cal Poly Pomona).

Cal State product Ivan Johnson disciplined by Hawks

Just when we thought Ivan Johnson was turning the corner and getting his life together – this from the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Hawks blog:

The Hawks sent forward Ivan Johnson back to Atlanta for conduct detrimental to the team.  Johnson, who was also fined an undisclosed amount, will miss tonight’s game against the Magic. Johnson was sent home for verbal altercation on the bench during Wednesday’s game against Boston. He did fly to Orlando from Boston with the team after the game before being sent home to Atlanta.

Johnson is expected to re-join the team Saturday for a scheduled practice.

Hawks coach Larry Drew declined to expand on the disciplinary action, or the reason for it, following this morning’s shoot-around.

“We made a decision to discipline him by sending him home, fining him and we will move on,” Drew said.

Johnson, a 27-year-old NBA rookie, has had issues in the past.

He washed out after one season of run-ins with coach Ernie Kent at Oregon.

After one year at Division II Cal State-San Bernardino,  Johnson played a season in the NBA Development League before joining the Korean Basketball League. That opportunity ended last year when the KBL banned Johnson  after he reportedly made an obscene gesture at a game official. He headed back to the D-League where he was named first-team all-league, but volatile enough to lead the league in technical fouls. Johnson‘s coach with the Erie BayHawks eventually benched him for his behavior.

“With me, no it’s not a concern,” Drew said of Johnson’s documented disciplinary issues. “Isolated incident. If it were anybody else we would have taken the same measure. I spoke to him before he left. We had a good conversation. It was like I told him, we will do what we have to do. He will miss tonight’s game. We will see him when we get back to Atlanta. We are moving on.”

Athletes with Johnson’s past don’t always get a shot in the NBA, much less two. Let’s hope he wises up after this incident because he may not get another chance. And he has played well enough to warrant a contract past this season.

SBVC outlasts Chaffey 11-6 in pivotal baseball game

The San Bernardino Valley College baseball team overcame a 5-0 deficit and surged past visiting Chaffey 11-6 in a pivotal Foothill Conference showdown.

Everyone had pretty much conceded the top spot to Rio Hondo. The only drama is will the Roadrunners run the table and who will be the team finishing second and also getting into the playoffs.

SBVC, Chaffey and College of the Desert are in the mix for that playoff berth and the Wolverines struck a big blow, securing the three-game series. They will go for the sweep on Saturday when the teams play at noon at Chaffey.

Credit this game to the SBVC bullpen as Kevin Verdeja was not sharp. And credit SBVC coach Bill Mierzwik for knowing when to swap out pitchers. The Wolverines trailed 5-0 after two innings and Verdeja was not in it for th long haul. out he came and in came Joshua Bagwell who was stellar the next five.

When Bagwell walked the first batter of the eighth, he came out and in came ace Adam Quintana. It was all the right moves at the right time.

Chaffey starter Kyel Abel pitched well enought to get the win, just as he has all season. But he did not get the support he needed from the bullpen.

The two teams have never really liked each other and there have been fireworks between them in the past. But the last two games both have focused on their own game and not gotten too caught up in the rivalry. That’s a good thing. Let your baseball playing speak for itself.

The last two weeks should be interesting with three teams in the playoff mix. Let the best survive!


Leopards take control of SCIAC baseball race

The race for a conference title in baseball usually comes down to the last day in the SCIAC. But  that doesn’t look like it will be the case this year as the University of La Verne (22-10, 17-4) is sitting in control.

The Leopards began the weekend tied for first with Cal Lutheran but they swept the Kingsmen, finished off by a 13-3 mercy-rule humbling today in the second game of a doubleheader at Mt. SAC.

It was the last of the three-game series. Now its on to the round robin where each team will play one last game against every other team. So  Laverne has a three-game lead on Cal Lutheran (19-11, 14-7) and a four-game lead on suddenly-surging Pomona-Pitzer (19-11-1, 13-8).

So there are seven games left, six if you throw out each team’s game against winless Caltech. That’s a pretty decent lead for this point in the season. La Verne Coach Scott Winterburn is optimistic but cautious because he knows his team is likely going to get every team’s best pitcher this time around.

The Leopards did agood job of keeping their composure with Cal Lutheran doing its best to stir things up. The Kingsmen pitchers hit five batters, plunking Michael Stewart three times. It hardly seemed like a coincidence given that Stewart had laid a hard but clean tag on a Cal Lu runner early in the game on a baserunning blunder.

Asked about the repeated plunkings Winterburn played it down. Whether it was intentional or not, the Leopards did their talking with their bats, punshing the Kingsmen and finally putting them out of theuir misery with a five-run eighth.

And consider that this is a team without a home field. The Leopards are nomads of sorts, practicing at nearby Damien High School and having to play home games at Mt. SAC, Azusa Pacific, wherever.

Yet the Leopards just go about their business. They deserve to win this SCIAC title and when they do it will be a reward for a job well done!