It’s not everybody’s best team but that doesn’t mean this season’s Rio Hondo League isn’t the strongest and deepest.
That’s what Monrovia High School baseball co-head coach Brad Blackmore said when asked to discuss the parity this season.
“It’s good for the league overall,” he said. “Personally, I’d rather be 8-0 and three or four games on top, I’m not going to lie to you.
“This is as strong and deep I’ve seen as a whole. It’s not everybody’s best team but it’s evenly matched, and you can throw South Pasadena in there, too.”
La Caada (14-2, 6-2) and the Wildcats (11-6-1, 6-2) are tied for first while San Marino (12-6, 6-3) and Temple City (12-7, 6-3) are tied for second, respectively.
South Pasadena’s (6-12, 2-7) record doesn’t look competitive on paper but they’ve put a scare on its counterparts.
“They haven’t had a lot of wins but they’ve played everyone tough,” Blackmore added. “We should be battle-tested for the playoffs.”
What’s stranger are the scenarios that can play out. A bad week from Monrovia can easily mean going from a first-place tie to dropping fourth and possibly outside looking in come playoffs.
“That’s the thing,” Blackmore said, “you’re up one game on one or two teams but a loss here and there and suddenly you can drop to fourth because it’s so close; somebody is going to be fourth real quick.”
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Temple City coach Barry Bacon can attest to the havoc the Tigers can still create as the season’s end approaches.
“South Pasadena is going to cause damage down the road,” Bacon said. “They’re a good ball club. They hung with us. There’s two outs in the seventh and they scored two runs to tie us. We hit a home run to win it but they battled us the whole way. Every venue in this league is tough, even Blair plays tough for two or three innings.”
The Titans last week routed Monrovia, 10-2, and the week before that they beat Temple City, 4-0.
However, the Rams recorded a key 4-3 win in 10 innings over the Spartans.
So, is there some parity in the Rio Hondo League?
“It really exposed the parity in the Rio Hondo League,” Bacon said. “I told the boys we have to grab La Caada and pull them back to us, and that’s what (the) win does.
“Now we’re a game out. There’s some parity in league, yeah, you can say that.”
La Caada coach Dennis Ballard said the race to the top will be an exciting one.
“This is one of the best high school leagues in Southern California,” he said. “This happens a lot of times when we go in the last two or three games where the league title isn’t decided. We have Temple City and San Marino right behind us. It’s exciting baseball.”
The Titans will march into La Caada on Wednesday at 3:30 for yet another key win, and it’s safe to say San Marino’s latest wins has increased its confidence.
“As far as the league goes we’ll decide that (this week) as far as where we’ll be,” Ballard said. “It’s a big seven or eight days. We don’t know who the best team in this league is.”
The Wildcats have won the league title eight out of the last 11 years, including the last three in a row.
Temple City will try to avenge its loss when it travels to San Marino on Friday.
Still fresh on La Caada’s mind is a 12-0 drubbing courtesy of Monrovia in the league-opener. Payback will be on the Spartans’ mind when they host the Wildcats on Friday.
“I told the kids, ‘Don’t fool yourselves. We’re not 12 runs better than them,’” Blackmore said. “Every game has its own entity. We don’t expect that to happen again, especially since we have to go to their place again.”
Monrovia is hoping to have Richard Kilbury back by the end of the week for its game against the Spartans or early next week. Kilbury has been out with a left elbow injury and hasn’t pitched since leading the Wildcats to a 12-0 win over La Caada in the league-opener.