Above: San Marino’s Doug Mayberry, who has had to deal with a variety of injuries.
There was a high sense of optimism when the high school baseball season started.
A season riddled with injuries, however, has all but derailed the hopes of some teams (San Marino, La Caada) while others (Monrovia, Maranatha) try to overcome depth problems.
San Marino (5-14, 2-6) recorded its biggest win of the season Tuesday when it beat Monrovia, 6-3. Before that, the Titans had little to celebrate.
Senior catcher Mark Chen broke his nose three weeks ago in the second game of a doubleheader against Maranatha. His first game back was Tuesday. Sophomore Bradley Haslam has been out several weeks with a leg injury and will return for the first time Friday at South Pasadena. Everett Phillips, regarded as the ace this season, pitched three innings against Charter Oak in the third game of the season and has not pitched since because of a ligament strain in his throwing elbow. He’s not expected to pitch the rest of the season.
Doug Mayberry, the lone all-league returnee who batted .382 with 15 RBIs and 10 doubles as a junior, has been in and out with a variety of injuries.
Sophomore Matt Wofford, batting .387, also has been out the last two weeks. San Marino coach Mack Paciorek promoted Nick Gott, son of former Dodger pitcher Jim Gott, from the junior varsity team. Gott in his second start for the Titans tweaked his knee against Temple City in a pickoff attempt.
Paciorek is not discouraged.
“It’s one of those years you can’t shake,” he said. “But it’s nice to see the motivation with their insistence to get back on the field. That’s the one thing all athletes have to learn, is you have to work hard to get back. They’re giving us that motivational boost.”
Paciorek said he knew the Rio Hondo League had more parity this season, but a surprise still ensued.
“South Pasadena having so many seniors you knew were going to make a run at one point,” he said. “Temple City’s got the pitching, we knew that going in. But the surprise is Monrovia. It’s not that they’re not good, but they’re not what they have been. That’s kind of caught everyone off-guard.”
Monrovia’s quest for a sixth consecutive league title is on thin ice. The Wildcats (8-11-1, 4-3) need to win outright and hope La Ca ada (8-9, 2-6) upsets Temple City (13-6, 7-1) Friday.
The Spartans started league with five consecutive losses before beating San Marino, 4-3, and Monrovia, 5-4. UC Santa Barbara-bound Brendon Shoemake and Sam Baldwin have been bright spots in La Caada’s pitching rotation.
Monrovia started the preseason ranked No. 1 by this newspaper despite returning only three starters. But filling big shoes in the rotation and key spots elsewhere slowed the Wildcats.
“Temple City is sitting pretty right now,” Paciorek said. “We are no longer in control of our destiny. We can win out and still not make the playoffs or we can win three of four and make the playoffs, if other things go our way.”
Maranatha (9-12, 4-5) is in a rebuilding mode as it sits in fourth place in the Olympic League.
The Minutemen, No. 7 in the preseason rankings, returned five starters this season, but losing Star-News Player of the Year Dylan Covey to graduation left a considerable gap in the lineup.
Maranatha also lost significant power at the plate. The Minutemen batted .312 with a .421 on-base percentage and .398 slugging percentage last season.
They’re batting .262 this season.