Baseball: Arcadia clinches at least a share of the Pacific League title after a 5-1 win over Pasadena; San Marino beats South Pasadena; Monrovia presumably beats Blair and Temple City blanks La Caada, 4-0, in RHL action

Just got back to the office here. I know TomS is going to be upset that I couldn’t make it to the Calvary Chapel-Maranatha baseball game, but believe me when I say that I tried. In fact, I was really looking forward to watching Dylan Covey pitch. It’s 8:03 p.m. as I’m writing this and I haven’t even gotten started on my Pasadena-Arcadia baseball story. Anyway, Arcadia clinched at least a share of the Pacific League title after beating Pasadena, 5-1, on Tuesday afternoon at Arcadia High. It is the Apaches’ first league title since 2003 when Mike Parisi was coaching Arcadia. It was a stale game for the most part, but there were some good moments. Case in point was Arcadia’s Garret Tuck. He pitched five strong innings and allowed one run on four hits to earn the victory. A.J. Smouse pitched two scoreless innings to record the save. Then there was the amazing catch in right center by Pat Carroll. Chris Klein came to the plate with Nathan Bernstein at third and Ives Brown at first. On a 2-1 pitch Klein sent a shot to near center field. Carroll raced from left and extended his arm out to make the catch that had it been dropped surely would have cleared the bases to give Pasadena a 2-1 lead with just one out. Then in the sixth, Huntzinger made a diving catch to steal Bernstein of a double. “They tie the game with that,” said Arcadia coach Nick Lemas of Klein’s hit that was caught by Carroll. “Then they can take the lead and still be hitting and that changes the momentum. That was a phenomenal catch. (Carroll) had to run back … It was just amazing; I’ve seen Jim Edmonds make that play. That was a high-class play and Huntzinger has been doing that all year long.” Pirisi knew how big that catch was for Arcadia. “Carroll made a great catch and that could have put us right there and put a lot of pressure on Arcadia. This is a game of inches and it didn’t quite work out.” Arcadia can clinch the title outright with a win over Crescenta Valley. If CV beats Arcadia and Burroughs beats Burbank, that would put both teams with the same amount of losses but the Apaches get the first seed from the Pacific League because they own the tiebreaker over Burroughs. Still, there’s no way Arcadia wants to share the league title.

Temple City now holds the No. 3 spot in the Rio Hondo League after beating La Canada, 4-0. San Marino beat South Pasadena as well. The Rams have a favorable schedule since they close the season vs. Blair while the Spartans have to play a tough San Marino team. I don’t think a team from the Rio Hondo League will be awarded an at-large berth, so whoever loses on Thursday will be out of the playoffs.

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BREAKING NEWS: La Salle’s Agajanian suspended

La Salle baseball coach Harry Agajanian has been suspended for the rest of the season for what La Salle High is calling a violation of school policy.

“Coach Harry (Agajanian) is suspended as head coach of La Salle’s varsity baseball team until further notice for violation of school policy,” La Salle athletic director John Matheus said.

“Unfortunately, the administration just felt that we had to take action and we will discuss it further at the end of the season regarding next year.”

Without going into all the details, school officials can confirm that Agajanian’s suspension stems from a players refusal not to play in a game against Cantwell Sacred Heart. Agajanian sent that player to the bus after his refusal to play, and words were later exchanged. School officials met, and felt a suspension was warranted.

La Salle has two games left beginning today at home vs. Bishop Amat. They finish Friday at Bishop Amat. Assistant coach Junior Montes will take over as coach for what’s left of the rest of the season. Agajanian, who has coached the Lancers the last four seasons, could not be reached for comment. He’s expected to have a meeting with the principal today to discuss his future at La Salle.

Note: Please do not leave comments detailing what unfolded or which player was involved, those comments will be removed.

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Joe Montana joins Oaks Christian High coaching staff

MaxPreps.com is reporting Joe Montana is joining the Oaks Christian football coaching staff. The staff already includes 19-year NFL veteran Clay Matthews, Bob Richards and Bob Bates, two former California coaches of the year, and former University of Tennessee quarterback Casey Clausen, the older brother of Jimmy. “Our coaching staff is second to none,” Oaks Christian coach Bill Redell said. “It is a very experienced staff and the average age of our staff is 65. Nobody cares who gets the credit because by the time the game ends, none of us can remember who should get the credit.” Montana, who, according to Redell, will be in the press box. The move has brought about a change in the head coach’s philosophy. “We have a policy where we don’t want fathers coaching their kids,” Redell said. “But we made an exception. So the new rule is, if you’ve been a three-time Super Bowl MVP, you can come out and coach your kid.”

Must be nice.

Funny line from our Eastside brother, Joe Amat: Coach Redelll used to have a rule that fathers couldn’t coach their sons… but had to amend it to “… unless you’ve made a Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame or Super Bowl MVP!”

Muir and Oaks Christian play in Week 3. How you likin’ that, Stang Fan?

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Swimming Prelims: Site changed, read information here

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The CIF Southern Section Division IV preliminary swimming heats scheduled for Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool in Long Beach on Tuesday have been moved. The meet will now take place Tuesday at Mt. SAC. Event and race times are still the same with the first race scheduled to get underway at noon. The change in venue was necessitated by a failure of the Belmont Plaza pools pump system. The repair of that pump system may require that additional days beyond tomorrow also move to Mt. SAC. The CIF-SS swimming office will make that determination Tuesday after consulting with management at Belmont Plaza Pool and a release will be sent out once that decision has been made. We’ll keep you posted. Click here for heat sheets and all other CIF Prelims/Finals information.

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Baseball: Championship Week coming to the wire

The Alpha League, the Almont League and the Rio Hondo League titles area all up for grabs. Maranatha will host Calvary Chapel on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Alhambra is at Montebello on Tuesday and needs to win. Monrovia is at Blair on Tuesday, and that should be a win for the Wildcats but I don’t think they can clinch if San Marino beats South Pasadena which also play on Tuesday at SPHS. Monrovia, I think, can clinch with a win at South Pasadena on Thursday. Temple City and La Canada are battling for the league’s final playoff spot. The Rams need to win to keep their hopes alive. Meanwhile, the Pacific League’s fourth spot is up for grabs. Assuming Arcadia beats Pasadena on Tuesday, the Bulldogs need to beat Muir on Friday and hope the Apaches beat CV on Friday night at 7. All indications point to my being at both games. Anyone else missing?

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Softball: Things are heating up as season winds down

Quite a few big games this week. I know Flintridge Sacred Heart hosts Alemany today at Glendale Sports Complex at 3. This is a re-play from the last game when Sacred Heart won after scoring int he bottom of the seventh to win, 4-3. It was Sacred Heart’s first win ever over Alemany. The game was protested before the start of the game because Alemany coaches said the pitcher’s circle was at 43 feet instead of the regulated 40 feet. The game was played under protest. I wonder if you go to any given softball field and measure the pitcher’s circle how many are exactly 40 feet. I think not. In the Rio Hondo League, Temple City visits La Canada on Tuesday. If the Spartans win that clinches the league championship. Also on Tuesday, Keppel plays at Montebello for the Almont League crown. In the Prep League, Mayfield’s season is done and clinched at least a share of the league title, a first in the school’s history. Rio Hondo Prep could garner the same honors; its big game comes at Pasadena Poly on Friday at 3:45 p.m. Any other games we’re missing that deserve mention?

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Melendez: Mother’s impact made all the difference

Avid readers of this blog know how special I think my mom is. As a single mother through most of my childhood she did everything she could to make sure I’d make something of my life, and she set the example by working hard. As a kid, I witnessed her courage during a seemingly-bleak period of our life. It didn’t matter that we were homeless or that she almost died after a truck ran her down and dragged her a few blocks. She was never one to let us feel bad for ourselves and insisted on surrounding ourselves by strong, smart and positive people. Her advice, I feel, has paid dividends. I’m lucky enough to still have her around and strong as ever. She’s 42-years young and anxiously waits for her first grandchild. I’ll let my brother and sisters handle that. As I type this my heart goes out to Karen Bell, mother of St. Francis goalkeeper Jordan Bell, whose son died in his sleep last August. I’m also reminded of Pasadena basketball coach Tim Tucker whose mother abruptly died last Thanksgiving after losing her short battle with pancreatic canter. Today happens to be Tucker’s birthday, too. On this special day I bid everyone a happy Mother’s Day. I leave you with a column I wrote last Mother’s Day while working as a reporter at The Orange County Register. Some of you have read it but for those who haven’t will have a better understanding of where I come from and why I hold all mothers, especially single mothers, in high regard. Enjoy.

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By MIGUEL A. MELENDEZ
The Orange County Register

Mother’s Day has come and gone.

I’ve become more appreciative of my mother, Cristina, who through my childhood raised me and my older brother and younger sister as a single parent.

She raised us the best she could. She doesn’t know it, and neither did I until recently, but she’s the reason I became a sportswriter.

For a while I didn’t know how it was I became a sports fan.

Before my father left when I was 3, I didn’t remember him being into sports, and my brother didn’t really get into sports until Michael Jordan started winning a few rings.

I claim to have become a Dodgers fan at age 5 but I don’t really remember following them until eighth grade. My mother said she, like all Latinos at the time, followed Fernandomania, but I don’t remember.

(Apologies to Fernando Valenzuela, with whom I’ve had the pleasure to have lunch while on assignment with the Dodgers.)

We were poor and at one point even homeless. I vividly remember the day we all got dressed up and went to McDonald’s for the first time. We even took a picture, posing with the drive-thru sign. I get emotional when I pass by the McDonald’s on Alvarado and Olympic.

As a poor kid living in a gang-infested neighborhood (just a block away from where Staples Center now is), the opportunity to play organized sports was not there.

So I relished playing and being good at kick ball, especially when I learned how to catch.

I spent a lot of time running away from bullies, climbing fences or riding my bike as fast as I could to avoid confrontations with the neighborhood hooligans who had nothing better to do than torture me and my brother.

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Melendez: Kyle Joseph Bell’s memory lives on

MIGUEL MELENDEZ COLUMN

This column appeared on page C3 in the Star-News sports section on Saturday, May 9

It was in these pages nearly two months ago when we brought you the story of Kyle Joseph Bell, 22, who died in his sleep after an apparent heart failure last August.

He was an endearing and beloved son, brother, friend and confidant to those lucky enough that knew him.

Kyle’s loss was especially tough on Jordan Bell, the senior goalkeeper of the St. Francis High boys soccer team.

Jordan was getting ready to start the season last year when the unthinkable happened.

A season seemingly in despair was sparked by a great run in the CIF-Southern Section Division I playoffs that ultimately led to a magical season accentuated by the clinching of a CIF Southern California Championship in March.

Though Kyle’s presence was gone in body, his spirit was kept alive by small but meaningful tributes from Jordan.

“I did this for him,” Jordan said at the time. “We both got our redemption.”

It’s been nearly nine months since his passing but the Bell family is making a collective effort to keep his spirit alive.

Every first Monday of each month, “Team Kyle Bell” – one of about 100 groups made up of families and church groups that also volunteer – get together to serve dinner at the Union Station Homeless Services’ Family Center.

The San Gabriel Valley’s largest social services agency assisting homeless men, women and children is celebrating its 35th anniversary today at the California club in downtown Los Angeles.

The Family Center is a 50-bed shelter for homeless families, from single fathers and mothers to grandparents with children.

“All of the families who live at the Family Center make a commitment to stability and work with a case manager to follow a plan to move them from their current situation to self-efficiency,” said Dana Bean, communications specialist and grant writer for Union Station Homeless Services. “We’ve had great success. Year to date 93 percent of families who exited have moved on to stable housing.”

Perhaps by design, the Bell family made sure their time served the homeless well.

While working as a runner for the “Dr. Phil Show” at Paramount Studios, Kyle befriended a homeless man with whom he later shared lunches.

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Baseball: Robledo puts together All-Valley Top 20 Rankings, which includes Tribune and Star-News teams; No surprise Bishop Amat is ranked No. 1

So what do you think of this poll? Here’s Robledo’s take:

By the way, I was looking at the Star-News baseball poll, and figured I would do an all encompassing baseball poll between our two area’s. A top 20 would look like this based on games through Thursday.

1. Bishop Amat (20-5, Tribune)
2. Northview (18-4, Tribune)
3. Glendora (16-7, Tribune)
4. Arcadia (18-4, Star-News)
5. San Dimas (17-5, Tribune)
6. Damien (18-6, Tribune)
7. Bonita (16-5, Tribune)
8. Monrovia (15-7-1, Star-News)
9. South Hills (16-7, Tribune)
10. Charter Oak (15-7, Tribune)
11. Alhambra (15-7, Star-News)
12. San Marino (15-7, Star-News)
13. La Caada (15-5, Star-News)
14. Temple City (14-9, Star-News)
15. Nogales (19-7-1, Tribune)
16. Diamond Bar (12-11, Tribune)
17. Maranatha (18-5-1, Star-News)
18. Pasadena (13-10-1, Star-News)
19. St. Francis (15-12, Star-News)
20. Bosco Tech (14-6, Star-News)

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BREAKING NEWS: The Galaxy to play the most famous soccer club in the world, FC Barcelona, on Aug. 1 in an international friendly at the Rose Bowl

I know this isn’t high school-related but since the Star-News first broke the story I thought I’d post it here and let our soccer freaks read it so they can start making plans. See yall at the Rose Bowl.

This story appeared on page C2 in the Star-News sports section on Friday, May 8

By Miguel A. Melendez
Staff Writer

The Galaxy will announce today that they will host world-renowned soccer power FC Barcelona in an international friendly on Aug. 1 at the Rose Bowl, the Star-News has learned.

It will be the Galaxy’s second high-profile game against an international team — they will play AC Milan on July 19 at The Home Depot Center.

Galaxy star David Beckham, currently on loan to AC Milan, will play. He’s expected to return to Los Angeles when the international transfer window opens July 15. Beckham’s first game will come against New York on July 16.

The Home Depot Center was the Galaxy’s first choice for the Barcelona game, but the venue is unavailable because of the X-Games.

The high-profile match, slated for an 8 p.m. start, will mark the Galaxy’s first trip to the Rose Bowl since hosting an MLS Cup playoff game in October 2002. They went on to win the MLS Cup at New England that season.

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