Baseball: Pasadena’s Brandon Cox is a natural athlete

Pasadena junior quarterback Brandon Cox, a prized recruit in the Pac-12 with an offer from Arizona, moved up to the varsity baseball team this season. He’s still raw by baseball standards, but his talent is evident.

“He’s a natural athlete,” Parisi said. “If he dedicated himself to baseball he’s a kid that with his speed, size and strength he’d have the chance to be a good all around player, and potentially be drafted.”

It’s no secret that Cox, a three-star quarterback ranked No. 35 in the nation at his position by Rivals, will take the football rout when it’s all said and done. But his presence alone is having an effect.

“He’s still learning baseball,” Parisi said. “But just by him being on the team and being in the dugout makes our players better.”

Cox, a right fielder, is batting .300 so far this season. Parisi isn’t sure if he’ll remain with the team his senior year when he’ll be surrounded by a recruiting circus.

“I’m hoping I can get him his senior year, but I know he’s trying to commit and sign early,” Parisi said.

If Cox does commit early there’s talk he could graduate early, though it’s still too early to tell.

“I know it’s a thought in his mind,” Parisi said.

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Postponed Games: A logistical nightmare throughout.

The calls for postponement came around noon Wednesday when the rain was coming down the hardest. The fields were flooded and conditions were not safe, prompting a handful of area baseball and softball games to postpone them for Thursday.

Among the teams affected was Temple City, which had a a home game scheduled against South Pasadena. The big Rio Hondo League showdown pitted San Marino at Monrovia, which hoped to avenge a 2-1 loss in the season opener. Both games will be re-scheduled for Thursday at the same time (3:30 p.m.) and site. In softball, the San Marino at Monrovia game also was re-scheduled for Thursday.

The postponed games mean teams affected, in this case the Rio Hondo League, will be forced to play back-to-back games with games already scheduled for Friday. The forecast calls for 20 percent chance of rain Thursday and 70 percent chance on Friday. If rain Friday again postpones games they will be re-scheduled for Monday, per the league constitution. San Marino baseball is scheduled to play at South Pasadena while Temple City visits La Canada. The La Canada softball team resumes league play at home against Temple City on Friday night, which also could be affected by rain. Alhambra baseball also could be affected, which hosts Montebello at 3:15 p.m. in Almont League play at Moor Field.

Pasadena’s baseball team also was affected by rain. The Bulldogs will resume the Gladstone tournament final at 1 p.m. today at Gladstone against Charter Oak.

Coaches will deal with Friday if and when the rain comes, in the mean time they’ll push forward. But the fact they’re now faced with consecutive games is not an issue. Most teams resuming league play are coming off tournament play where they played three to four consecutive games, and some are coming off doubleheaders in nonleague play.

“It’s no big deal,” Temple City coach Barry Bacon said. “We play back-to-back later in the season because of track and swimming finals.”

If there’s one major downside to postponed games is the logistical nightmare created by the rain. Athletic directors are faced with re-scheduling buses, making sure enough umpires are available for re-scheduled games and coordinating with team parents/boosters who put together snack bars. Not to mention parents who already have coordinated with their employers and/or worked around their schedules to make afternoon games that were scheduled well ahead of time.

“That’s the unfortunate part when somebody takes time off work to catch a game they’ve scheduled ahead of time,” Bacon said.

If teams had the luxury of playing under the lights that would minimize the effects caused by rain.

“If I had lights we’d have a lot of night games,” Bacon said. “It’s less of a stress on parent work schedules. If the rain stopped like it did just now (late afternoon) we could go out there, prepare the field and have it ready by 6.”

Only a handful of area teams play under the lights: Arcadia baseball at home (usually on Fridays), Maranatha at Brookside Park and La Canada softball at home.

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If baseball/softball games are postponed because of rain PLEASE leave a comment or text me on my cell!

UPDATE
South Pasadena at Temple City baseball game postponed because of rain, re-scheduled for Thursday.

San Marino at Monrovia baseball game postponed until Thursday.

Pasadena vs. Charter Oak in championship game of Gladstone tournament postponed until Thursday, 1 p.m.

San Marino at Monrovia softball game postponed until Thursday.

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Baseball Rankings: Temple City still the team to beat.


Temple City still No. 1, but San Marino looking to close in, resumes RHL with big game at Monrovia today.

STAR-NEWS RANKINGS
Compiled by Miguel A. Melendez

1. Temple City (13-2-1)
Solid showing in Las Vegas
2. Arcadia (11-3)
Apaches resumed Pacific League
3. La Salle (11-6-1)
Took part in Beach Pit Classic
4. San Marino (10-3)
Showdown at Monrovia today
5. Alhambra (9-2)
Moors seek vengeance Friday
6. Monrovia (10-3)
Big week ahead
7. Maranatha (10-5)
Taking part in Don Lugo tourney
8. South Pasadena (7-9)
Darkhorse in Rio Hondo League
9. La Canada (8-8)
0-4 league record deceiving
10. Pasadena (4-5)
Resumes Pacific League on Friday

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Softball Rankings: San Marino still holds top spot


La Canada had a great showing at the Woodbridge tournament.

STAR-NEWS RANKINGS
Compiled by Keith Lair

1. San Marino 11-4-1
Plays at Monrovia today
2. La Canada (10-1-1)
Three wins in Woodbridge tourney
No. 3 Duarte (12-3)
An extended spring break
4. Keppel (10-2)
No games until next week
5. Arcadia (7-3)
Four consecutive victories
6. La Salle (8-6)
Next up: Bishop Amat
7. Monrovia (11-4-1)
Swept Northview tournament
8. Marshall (12-1)
Four-game winning streak
9. Flintridge SH (6-5)
1-1 start in Mission League
10. Rio Hondo Prep (8-2)
Goes on its spring break

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Baseball: Arcadia shakes off rust in 2-1 win over Burbank.


Above: Arcadia pitcher Erik Trask

By Keith Lair, Staff Writer

BURBANK – All it took was one long hit.

Brandon Benson, Arcadia High School’s No. 6 hitter, doubled off the left-field netting at Burbank’s strange high-netting outfield fences.

“Brandon has been struggling a little bit,” Arcadia coach Nick Lemas said. “The potential is there for him to be a big-time hitter in our lineup. I thought it was gone, but this is a different ballpark. It was as high up there as it can be.”

Benson thought it was a pop-out.

“I really thought I popped it straight up,” the senior said. “I got lucky, I guess.”

What the two-out hit in the top of the fifth inning did was get the visiting Apaches over their spring break rustiness en route to a 2-1 victory over Burbank in a Pacific League game on Tuesday.

“I guess it just took one hit,” Benson said. “One hit makes a chain reaction.”

The victory was the Apaches’ 34th consecutive league victory and third this season. Their last defeat? Against Burbank in 2009. The Bulldogs are 2-2 in league this year.

The teams were locked in a scoreless duel in which neither team seemed to find an opening. Burbank left-hander Daniel Starkand had given up two singles in earlier innings but induced the Apaches (12-3 overall) into subsequent double plays.

“They did a good job of hitting their spots, throwing strikes and making us put it in play,” Lemas said. “We were able to get enough to get out of here with a `W.’ ”

Arcadia pitcherErik Trask had given up a two-out walk in the first in which Dylan Mersola reached third base, only for the right-handed pitcher to get cleanup hitter Harry Hernandez to ground out. Two innings later, Mersola hit a lead-off double and was thrown out by catcher Brendan Campbell trying to reach third base after a wild pitch for the first out of the inning.

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BREAKING NEWS: Arcadia football coach Jon Dimalante resigns. “It was the right time,” he said.

Jon Dimalante, after 17 seasons at the helm and a 113-76-1 career record, decided to step down as Arcadia High School’s football coach Tuesday morning.

Dimalante informed Arcadia athletic director Ryan Press of his decision and later did the same with the team. The news came as a bit of surprise to Press.

“He didn’t say a whole bunch,” Press said. “The main thing that he said was that the time was right. I know he had been thinking about it for a little while. Obviously those are enormous shoes to fill.”

Dimalante will continue teaching physical education, but leaves a gaping whole in a program he elevated to title contenders just last season. He led Arcadia to 10 Pacific League titles in his tenure, and leaves a class that just sent two players (Taylor Lagace, Myles Carr) to Division I schools (UCLA, Fresno State).

Dimalante said he has educational goals he wants to achieve, but certainly leaving the program is the hardest thing he’s had to do.

“It was the right time,” he said. “I love these kids who have played here for me. That’s going to be the hardest thing, not working with them every day. I’m going to be their biggest fan.”

It’s more than Arcadia football Dimalante will miss about leaving.

“The community, the players, the coaches that worked with me,” he said. “It’s just been a wonderful 17 years, and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it. This is my home. I have nothing but great feelings here.”

Dimalante is long considered a father figure to many of his current and former players, and that’s evident by the droves of former players who make their way back to Arcadia year in and year out.

“I’ll miss seeing my players work hard and see them grow,” Dimalante said. “I’ve been to a lot of weddings and everything else in between.”

Among the players who have remained in touch with the program is UCLA linebacker Todd Golper, who will remember Dimalante as a coach who underscored unity.

“‘It’s not about you, it’s about us,’” Golper said. “A typical line from coach D that represented the values he preached and coached upon us: selflessness,loyalty, strength, and brotherhood. I had the pleasure to live the meaning of these words under Coach Jon Dimalante.

“He will be missed, not only as a coach who always did more with less, but as a man who molded boys into men. The responsibility of a high school football coach goes so far beyond wins and losses. Coach D understood that. He lived it. There is no finer man I’ve ever been coached by in my entire athletic career then Coach D.”

As for hiring the next Arcadia coach and whether it’ll be a promotion from within or looking externally, that’s something Press has not had time to grasp just yet.

“I haven’t had that discussion with the rest of the administration,” he said. “I just found out a couple hours ago. We’ll find out and go from there.”

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Baseball: Rio Hondo League back in action on Wednesday after a very busy spring break.

There are many ways to stay busy, and the Rio Hondo League proved this point.

Take the Temple City High School baseball team, which spent nearly a week in Las Vegas taking part in the Durango Blazer Sportco Spring Classic where 40 of the best teams from California, Utah and Nevada competed. Temple City (13-2-1, 3-1 in league) won its bracket with three consecutive victories, including a win over Arbor View, ranked No. 4 in Nevada. The Rams were one of four seeded teams heading into the semifinals against Shadow Ridge of Nevada. Temple City lost, 11-7, but finished fourth overall.

That the Rams boast a talented pitching rotation was validated with their end result, which was just one of many positive experiences during the four-day trip that also included a trip to Las Vegas buffets as well as friendly competition at one of many large bowling alleys.

Temple City stayed near the strip and ate at the Orleans Casino, but the Rams didn’t wander far from there.

“We did everything we can to keep them away from the other part of Vegas,” Temple City coach Barry Bacon joked.

All joking aside, Temple City will come away with a rich experience and a renewed sense of excitement as it resumes league play next week against visiting South Pasadena (7-3, 1-3).

“To me, it’s just interesting to get the boys out of town and take them somewhere new,” Bacon said. “We had a great bonding experience and gave them a look into what college baseball life is like.”

Bacon said planning for the trip this season was easy, largely in part because of the strong parent support.

“With this kind of tournament you have to make sure you have a team like mine with enough pitching, and even then we ran out of pitchers,” Bacon said. “You also have to pick a team with super parents who you know will be helpful. Next year we won’t come because our spring break won’t line up with their spring break out here.”

Among the top teams from California invited was powerhouse Chatsworth, which drew a number of pro and college scouts, just another opportunity the Rams took advantage of.

South Pasadena also kept busy taking part in the Apache Invitational. The Tigers didn’t fare so well in losing all four of their games to San Dimas, La Salle, Bonita and West Covina. But the experience of facing bigger and stronger lineups will be helpful down the road in a league with much more parity this season, according to San Marino coach Mack Paciorek.

“It’s a five-team race for sure,” he said. “Every team has one or two arms that can beat anybody.”

San Marino (9-2, 3-1) kept with a long-standing tradition of enjoying spring break and for the 49th season did not take part in any tournament. Legendary coach Mickey McNamee in his 44 seasons at the helm did not take part in spring break tournaments, nor has Paciorek in his five seasons at the helm. The Titans scheduled workouts with players who enjoyed their time off.

“We worked out with the guys who stayed in town and trusted that the guys who are not here took their gloves, are staying in shape and ready to go,” Paciorek said.

Monrovia (8-3, 3-1) scheduled a tough nonleague game this week, losing to powerhouse Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, 9-8, and scheduled a doubleheader with California Military Institute. The Wildcats resume league on Wednesday against visiting San Marino and looks to avenge a 2-1 loss.

La Canada went the same rout as Monrovia, scheduling a doubleheader with Village Christian. The Spartans are 0-4 in league, but that can be deceiving. La Canada played Temple City tough in a 4-3 loss, and it held a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh before unraveling in the seventh and losing to San Marino, 7-2. The Spartans then suffered tough losses to Monrovia (6-4) and South Pasadena (6-4).

“It’s like being in the twilight zone at those as those games are taking place,” La Canada coach Dennis Ballard said. “We had two in a row where we had identical endings. We felt a little cursed but we easily could be 4-0 in league.”

La Canada resumes play in a week against Temple City, and the Spartans hope that’s enough time for Mitch Russell to heal up, who apparently suffered a stress fracture in his left ankle in the league opener on March 20. Russell had taken some time off from practice after that game in hopes of nursing his ankle back to health, but to no avail.

Ballard hopes to have him back in time when the Spartans resume league play.

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BREAKING NEWS: La Salle hires Jelani Gardner as next boys basketball coach, takes over Steve Goldstein.

La Salle High School has selected Jelani Gardner as its next boys basketball coach. La Salle athletic director Anthony Harris confirmed the news, though an official announcement won’t be made until school resumes from spring break. Harris said Gardner, a St. John Bosco assistant, will be introduced to parents in a couple weeks.

Gardner takes over Steve Goldstein who resigned after a near three-decade career at the helm.

The La Salle position was an attractive position, drawing strong interest from respectable area coaches that included Renaissance Academy Sid Cooke and former La Canada Muir coach Rocky Moore. According to sources, La Salle went after Pasadena coach Tim Tucker who was considered the top choice.

Gardner, a phenom at St. John Bosco and Cal, takes over a program that is in the rebuilding stages.

“I’m really happy with his selection,” Harris said. “He’s hungry. He has a great basketball game. We’re looking forward to the future of La Salle.”

That Gardner comes from a private school background had little to do with his selection.

“Not at all,” Harris said. “With his experience we felt like he was a good fit, his ability to really truly develop kids. We’re not St. John Bosco. We don’t want to be St. John Bosco. I think he’s a really good guy who will lead us in a good direction.

St. John Bosco is coming off an impressive season after reaching the finals of the CIF State Southern California Regional championship game.

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