The Mt. Baldy League champion Don Lugo baseball team has drawn the No. 1 seed for the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs which begin on Tuesday. But first-year head coach Jeff Abel is a bit concerned about his Conquistadores (23-3) who play on Thursday against thee winner of a wild card game between Riverside Patriot (16-11) and Jurupa Hills (17-9).
There were a couple of injuries in Thursday’s regular season finale against Colony. Senior pitcher-outfielder Benny Aguilera sustained an ankle injury going after a foul ball and is now on crutches.
Abel is hoping a week is enough time to at least get him healthy enough he can be in the lineup in the outfield or as a designated hitter but that is probably a stretch since he’s still on crutches. Abel doesn’t think he’s be able to pitch for at least a couple of weeks.
Losing Aguilera would be a major blow. Don Lugo graduated several players from last year’s team and Aguilera is the most experienced of those coming back.
There were a couple of less serious injuries. Junior outfielder Josh Ibarra strained a quad but remained in the game. Senior Albert Rizo injured his hand,. He came out of that game but Abel said he seemed better today.
The Don Lugo baseball team is off to a 12-0 start that has also resulted in a No. 1 ranking in Division 4.
The Conquistadors are taking the field with a new look. There have been wholesale changes in personnel as just one starter returns. But longtime coach Joe Marcos stepped down and the team is now being headed by his former top assistant in Jeff Abel.
Abel stops short of calling this team an overachieving team however.
“We had some young players that I knew had potential but I wouldn’t say we’re overachieving,” Abel said. “Maybe some guys have developed a little faster than we thought they would.”
The Conquistadors have won two tournaments that they have hosted – one a preseason tournament and one a spring break tournament. Among the more notable wins were one over Glendora and another over formidable small school power Woodcrest Christian.
Abel has gotten stellar performances from several players including senior outfielder-pitcher Benny Aguilera, the only returning starter from last year’s squad.
Among the other big contributors are junior Josh Ibarra, a backup last year, and junior pitcher-third baseman Nolan Fernandez, who came up from the junior varsity at the end of last season.
Abel also singled out the contributions of shortstop Albert Luevano, left fielder Khoury Bethley and pitcher Joshua Torres – all sophomores.
“The best thing about this team is these kids act like a family and they get along well on and off the field,” Abel said. “That’s one thing that has helped get us where we are. We have a long way to go but it’s definitely a good start.”
Next up for Don Lugo is a Mt. Baldy League game against Montclair (8-5, 1-2) on Wednesday.
Here is the schedule for the Don Lugo Easter Tournament which begins next week. Will update with scores and next day’s schedule as the tournament progresses.
at Don Lugo
St. Laurence, Ill. vs. Desert Christian, 9:30 a.m.
Paul VI vs. Paramount, Va., 12:30 p.m.
Linfield Christian vs. Don Lugo, 3:30 p.m.
Hesperia at Diamond Bar, 3:30 p.m.
Capistrano Valley Chr. at Walnut, 3:30 p.m.
Maranatha at Pomona, 3:30 p.m.
Southlands Christian at San Dimas, 3:30 p.m.
at Don Lugo
Arroy Grande vs. Ridgecrest Burroughs, 12:30 p.m.
Here is the Mt. Baldy selections as made by the coaches.
Most Valuable Players – Andrew Matus, Don Lugo, Frank Donaldson, Don Lugo
David Castaneda, Chaffey, Jr.
Damien Cauble, Ontario, Jr.
Noah Ehrhardt, Chaffey, Sr.
Adrian Garcia, Montclair, Sr.
Ryan Goff, Chino, Sr.
Danny Gomez, Montclair, Jr.
Matt Goytia, Don Lugo, Jr.
Kyle Guillement, Chino, Jr.
Andrew Martinez, Don Lugo, Sr.
Michael Martinez, Colony, Sr.
Daniel Perez, Don Lugo, Sr.
Chase Price, Don Lugo, Jr,.
Joshua Thorton, Chino, Jr.
Patrick Vizcaino, Don Lugo, Jr.