Baseball: Shupper, Maranatha a good fit.

It’s been a pleasure so far in Matt Shupper’s first season as Maranatha’s baseball coach.

Sure, some of it has to do with the success the Minutemen (12-7-1, 6-2 in Olympic League) are having, but from the time Shupper landed at Maranatha in the fall it’s all been smooth sailing.

Maranatha is coming off a split with Cerritos Valley Christian and earned a 7-6 victory that handed the Crusaders their first loss in league and stayed in the race for a league title. Maranatha has two home-and-home series left this season with Village Christian (9-9, 4-2) and L.A. Baptist (5-14, 1-7).

Shupper is hoping to build on the solid foundation laid out by Brian DeHaan, who resigned last summer after five seasons and led the Minutemen to a CIF-SS Division 5 title and a 93-52-2 career record. When the position opened up it was an attractive one because of the returning talent and potential. But it’s become evident there’s more to coaching at Maranatha.

“Coming to Maranatha has been a dream come true,” Shupper said. “I love working with these kids. The experience has been great, the administration, the parents, the support.”

Shupper previously coached at the high school level, but it’s a high comfort level he feels at Maranatha that’s made it an easy transition.

“When you feel like you can go out there and be yourself, that’s always great,” he said. “They hired me based on who I’ve been. I don’t have to be someone I’m not. I love going to work where the parents are at the game and always looking for a way to help the team. It’s such a family environment.”

Shupper couldn’t have asked for better senior leadership from twins Josh and Ryan Marrs. Josh is batting a team-high .463 with 13 RBIs and two home runs. Ryan is batting .355 with 10 RBIs.

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BREAKING NEWS: Arcadia hires Chris Long as its next head football coach, takes over Jon Dimalante who resigned a few weeks ago.

Arcadia athletic director Ryan Press has announced Chris Long as the next head football coach at Arcadia High School. He replaces Jon Dimalante who spent 17 seasons at the helm, compiling a 113-76-1 career record after deciding to step down on April 10.

Long played high school football at Serra High, leading it to a CIF championship in 1989. He attended L.A. Southwest College and earned a full ride to Eastern Michigan where he played linebacker. He graduated with a degree in sociology in 1996. He started coaching at Arcadia in 1997 and 998 under Dimalante then coached throughout the Los Angeles area, including a few years at L.A. Southwest College. He was the head coach for three seasons at Western Christian High and spent another three seasons at Hoover High. He served as an assistant head coach and defensvie coordinator at Arcadia last season.

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PrepXtra Live REPLAY: CIF’s Thom Simmons joins Aram, Fred and Stevie R. discuss Wednesday’s close Southern Section vote …

BREAKING NEWS: Aram tweeted that the 30-day, sit-out transfer rule was voted in at the CIF-Southern Section meeting this morning, passing by ONE VOTE, 41-40. The proposal still has to pass at the state level during other section votes for it to go into effect for the 2012-13 season, but passing the Southern Section is a huge step. We will have more later. You can follow Aram on Twitter @ChemicalAT

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Baseball: La Salle rallies to beat Bishop Amat for the first time ever, will meet again Friday at Citrus College.

By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer

LA PUENTE – When La Salle High School’s Bowdien Derby struck out Andrew Medina to end Tuesday’s game with Bishop Amat’s tying and game-winning runners in scoring position, La Salle coach Harry Agajanian’s face was a picture of relief.

La Salle overcame a five-run deficit to beat Bishop Amat 7-6 for its first win over Amat in school history.

Agajanian made the risky decision of starting junior pitcher Austin Wallis instead of his senior ace Derby, especially with Amat sending out left-hander Daniel Zamora.

But the move paid off.

With the exception of giving up five runs in the second inning, Wallis was solid while La Salle battled back before giving way to Derby to get the final two outs in the seventh.

“I thought throwing Wallis we could get them off-balance,” Agajanian said. “They’re a good fastball-hitting team and Derby is a good fastball pitcher. That’s why we thought we would mix it up a little and throw Austin at them. He has a pretty live fastball, too. It’s not 90 (mph), but he’s got some good off-speed that keeps you off-balance. I think it worked.”

Since Amat entered the Del Rey League in 2007 it has won five consecutive league titles. Tuesday’s loss was just its second defeat in more than 70 league games since ’07.

La Salle (14-6-1, 6-1) can take Tuesday’s big win a step further when it faces Amat (14-8, 8-1) for the third and final time in the regular season on Friday at Citrus College.

La Salle has played two fewer games than Amat in league play, but both have only one loss. The winner will have the inside track toward the title, and La Salle is in a good spot with Derby set to go.

“It would be sweet,” Agajanian said of the possibility of beating Amat again. “They beat Derby in our first meeting (March 23), so we’re not going in with the expectation of it’s a lock or anything. It’s baseball and they’re very good. We have to go in, make our pitches, hope Derby’s on and keep swinging the bat like we did today.”

For Bishop Amat, the top-ranked team in CIF-SS Division 4, the loss was unsettling.

After Bryan Menendez drove in a pair of runs, Adam Alcantara followed with a bases-loaded triple to clear the bases and give Amat a 5-0 lead in the second inning.

But La Salle countered by scoring five runs, all with two outs, to tie the game in the third at 5-5.

After Zamora struck out the first two batters in the inning Noeh Martinez, who went 3 for 4, singled, stole second and scored on Jordan Rodgers’ infield single to make it 5-1.

After Zamora hit Derby to put a second runner on base he appeared to get an inning-ending ground ball to short, but it was bobbled for an error. La Salle made Amat pay with four unearned runs courtesy of Antonio Ruiz’s single that drove in two, and Michael Pedote’s RBI single that brought in the game-tying run.

Amat wasn’t done with the miscues.

After Derby singled to lead off the fifth, Chris Williams’ fly ball to left was dropped for an error. After Antonio Ruiz’s bunt single loaded the bases, Derby scored on a wild pitch and David Sanchez’s infield single scored Williams for a two-run lead.

“For us to squander a 5-0 lead with Zamora on (the mound), that’s not all right,” Amat coach Andy Nieto said. “That’s a formula and recipe for being eliminated in the first round (of the playoffs).

“But you have to give them credit. It was a great job on their part for taking advantage of the extra opportunities that we gave them.”

Nieto then turned his attention to Friday’s game that ultimately could decide the league title.

“We’ve got to lick our wounds,” Nieto said. “Our players should be hurting and should be wounded and deserve to be. But we got a find a way to pick ourselves up from this and get back to work.”

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