Keppel forfeits wild-card win due to ineligible player.


Keppel’s remarkable baseball season came to a disappointing end Friday when the CIF-Southern Section announced the Aztecs will have to forfeit their wild-card win from earlier this week because of an ineligible player, thus eliminating them from the playoffs.

Keppel (8-17) was set to play at Elsinore on Friday afternoon in the first round of the Division 3 playoffs, but instead rode the long bus ride back to school from Wildomar after the violation came to light. The Aztecs will forfeit their wild-card win against Hawthorne, and Hawthorne moves on to play the first round game today at Elsinore.

Keppel coach Houston Hernandez received a call from his administration just as he was stepping off the bus at Elsinore. About a half hour later, he was informed the Aztecs had to pack up and head home.

“This is probably one of the worst days ever,” said Hernandez before elaborating. “It was definitely an administrative error, period. Somebody didn’t do their job and now we have to suffer for it.”

The CIF-SS sent out a statement Friday evening, alluding that more forfeits is a possibility.

“Mark Keppel is faced with the potential loss of every win this season depending on the number of games their ineligible player appeared in,” the statement read. “Information was received by the CIF-Southern Section office this afternoon of a player who transferred from another CIF-SS school without proper paperwork.”

Hernandez said he was succinct when delivering the message, and players mingled on the field in disbelief.

“They stayed on the field for about 20 minutes and it sunk in that all their hard work had been taken away,” Hernandez said. “It was emotional out there, and I was too. How could everything we did be swept away because someobody didn’t do their job.”

Keppel, which finished tied for third with Schurr in the Almont League, earned its first playoff berth this season for the first time in at least a decade. The Aztecs were 7-93 in the five years prior to Hernandez taking over three eyars ago, and the program had won just two of their 75 league games.

“There was nothing that these boys or myself could have done to make the situation any better,” Hernandez said. “It’s a little hard and a little embarassing the way it ended. There was was nothing that these boys or myself could have done to make this situation any better. It really hurts, but hopefully push us really hard for next year.”

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Baseball 101 with Alhambra’s Steve Gewecke ….

As some of you know I graduated from Alhambra (2001) and some of the coaches I’ve covered in my four-year tenure here at the Star-News also at some point were my teachers, most notably Joe Petralia (former boys basketball coach) who was my history teacher. Moors baseball coach Steve Gewecke taught a lot of my friends, but I never had him. Eleven years later, I asked Gewecke what it is he looks for when watching a pitcher warming up in the bullpen. I listened intently:

“If I see a kid warm up you see arm angle, does the fastball run and what kind of curve ball is it. A 12-6 curveball is something that breaks down, your old-fashion drop ball. An over the top guy would easily have a 12-6 curve. But if it’s a 2-8 that’s a slurve, a half-slider and half-curve. A slurve looks like a lollipop curve; has a big break. Basically when they throw a slurve they want you to hit it but they want you to hit it in the air. You throw it with no count or at 1-0 and you want the guy to get himself out with a pop up. I don’t know what kind of break we’ll see (today), but supposedly he throws a lot of them.”


Carter vs. Alhambra at Moor Field, 3:15 p.m.
Keppel at Elsinore, 3:15 p.m.
Mary Star of the Sea at Gabrielino, 3:15 p.m.
Maranatha at Citrus Valley, 3:15 p.m.

Alhambra coach Steve Gewecke left around lunch time on Wednesday and headed for the desert to catch a CIF-Southern Section wild-card playoff game. He made the 160-mile trek to and from Paloma Valley, which played host to Carter.

Gewecke saw plenty and came back with a lot of useful information after Carter came away with an 8-5 victory. The Lions will play Alhambra (20-3) in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs today at 3:15 p.m. at Moor Field.

Here’s what information is readily available: Carter (18-8) is the fourth-place team out of the San Andreas League, won by Colton with a 12-2 record. The Lions possess some size on the mound. Whatever information one needs after that can only be done through scouting, which is exactly what Gewecke did Wednesday afternoon.

Carter got off to a strong start with four runs in the first inning, thanks to two hit batters and one walk. In that short time, Gewecke was able to make his assessment.

“Carter kind of took the game to Paloma Valley and put some of the pressure on them,” Gewecke said. “Carter really tries to push the envelope in terms of putting pressure on the defense, drag, push, squeeze successfully.”

In short, Carter resembles Alhambra, which is making its 12th consecutive playoff appearance in Gewecke’s 16 seasons at the helm.

Carter’s size on the mound is evident. The Lions started 6-foot-6 junior Richard Brotzman against Paloma Valley.

He recorded his sixth win of the season in 12 appearances and went the distance. Gewecke was hoping to catch a glimpse of who the Moors will face today, and that would be 6-2 junior Mark Alvarez.

Gewecke said Brotzman was teetering in the seventh, prompting Carter to send Alvarez to the bullpen. Brotzman held it together to record the complete game, and though Alvarez never entered the game Gewecke wanted to catch Alvarez in the bullpen, but to no avail.

A storage container made it nearly impossible to watch Alvarez, so all Gewecke can go on is what he gathered from Paloma Valley coach Chuck Kemp. Arcadia also faced Carter earlier this year in the Rancho Cucamonga tournament, but the Apaches also faced Brotzman in that game. Kemp told Gewecke that Alvarez has a pretty good curveball, good breaking ball, but not an overpowering fastball.

If not for that storage container, Gewecke could have evaluated Alvarez and known what to expect today.

“If I see a kid warm up you see arm angle, does the fastball run and what kind of curve ball is it,” Gewecke said. “A 12-6 curveball is something that breaks down, your old-fashion drop ball. An over the top guy would easily have a 12-6 curve. But if it’s a 2-8 that’s a slurve, a half-slider and half-curve. A slurve looks like a lollipop curve; has a big break.

“Basically when they throw a slurve they want you to hit it but they want you to hit it in the air. You throw it with no count or at 1-0 and you want the guy to get himself out with a pop up. I don’t know what kind of break we’ll see (today), but supposedly he throws a lot of them.”

And as far as height on the mound goes, it’s an advantage, too.

“I think it does (help) because if they use their height the ball comes out of the hand with more tilt,” Gewecke explained. “It’s harder to hit a ball that’s thrown on a downward tilt than a ball that’s flatter.”

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Baseball: Temple City’s Calvin Copping leads way.

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

TEMPLE CITY – Kaiser High School pitcher Christopher Mathewson made 16 throws to first base the entire game, six in the fourth inning.

Perhaps he should have paid a little more attention to the batters.

Temple City’s Ben Arrue and Gabriel Juarez connected for consecutive RBI singles in the fourth and Calvin Copping proved too strong on the mound with 12 strikeouts as the Rams ran away with a 5-1 victory Thursday in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs.

Copping made 93 pitches (69 for strikes) and gave up just six hits in going the distance for Temple City (21-3-1), which advances to Tuesday’s second round.

Kaiser (18-9) found no rhythm at the plate, and squandered a golden opportunity in the third with two on and no outs. Copping showed poise despite an unearned run on a Arrue throwing error that allowed Erik Ascencion to score and give the Cats a 1-0 lead.

Copping came back strong, striking out the next two and recording the third out on a groundout, and it wasn’t long before Arrue came back with a little payback.

“You can’t give up so I just cut the tire and let the error go,” said Arrue of his mentality approaching the plate in the fourth. “I felt good that I redeemed myself.”

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Baseball: La Salle’s Derby pitches way to victory.

By Keith Lair, Staff Writer

GLENDORA – Bowdien Derby was able to turn a corner on the Laguna Beach High School baseball team.

The La Salle senior pitcher faced a first-and-third situation in the opening inning of the Thursday afternoon’s CIF-Southern Section Division 4 first-round playoff game at Citrus College.

Derby got back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

The senior then had three consecutive at-bats with runners on the corners. He had a base hit, walk and a ground out.

But stopping the Breakers, the third-place finisher from the Orange Coast League, and getting the game’s first RBI were the two important corner shots that Derby made in a 6-2 victory.

“When you’ve got a leadoff guy getting on and the second guy can bunt for a hit or sacrifice him over, you’ve got runners in scoring position right there,” Derby said. “My guys are doing their job. I’ve got to come through for my team, too.”

The top four batters for the Del Rey League champions and tournament’s No. 2 seed got on base 11 times in 16 tries.

“We have a lineup that if we throw names on a board, however they land, that could be our lineup,” La Salle coach Harry Agajanian said. “We feel that strongly about our whole lineup.”

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Baseball: Monrovia comes through in clutch to beat Chino

By Nathan Cambridge, Correspondent

MONROVIA – In a game in which Monrovia High School scored all its runs with two outs, Carl Daniels led the way with a two-out, three-run home run in the fifth inning to power the Wildcats to a 6-2 win over visiting Chino in a CIF-Southern Section Division 4 first-round baseball playoff game Thursday.

“I thought they did an incredible, unbelievable job with two outs,” Chino coach Bob Sheehan said. “That’s just an amazing thing to be able to score six runs with two outs, but they did it.”

Not only did Monrovia (18-5) score all its runs with two outs, the Wildcats also collected all eight of their hits with two out.

“We got the hits when it mattered,” Wildcats co-coach Brad Blackmore said.

After Chino (19-8) tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fifth inning, the first two Wildcats grounded out to start the bottom half. Justin Jones then drew a seven-pitch walk ahead of David Perez, who hit a two-out single.

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Softball: Here are the updates I have so far …

Division 4

Dos Pueblos 7, Maranatha 2
Division 5
La Canada 15, Lompoc 0
Calvary Chapel 5 Keppel 4
Marymount at Duarte
San Marino 6, Lompoc 3
Monrovia 6, Savanna 4
Division 6
Westridge at Boron
Academic Excellence 6, Marshall 1
Rio Hondo Prep at Saddleback Valley Christian
Rosamond vs. Alverno at Glendale Sports Complex
San Gabriel Mission vs. Whitney at Cerritos Sports Center
Pasadena Poly 11, Crean Lutheran 0

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Track & Field: Zoe Dretzel is a positive influence.

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

SOUTH PASADENA – Within five seconds of meeting Zoe Detzel – “Detzel like a Pretzel,” she helps you pronounce and spell her name – you can’t help but smile. And not long after you’ll find yourself laughing with her.

That’s just who Zoe Detzel is, a senior who in just one year at South Pasadena High School has made an impact that will leave a lasting impression after she moves back home to Pennsylvania. But before that happens (exactly one month from now), Detzel will compete in the 300 hurdles at this weekend’s CIF-Southern Section Track and Field Championships at Mt. SAC.

Detzel moved to California with her mom, Deb, who took a job as the academic director at the USC Language Academy. Detzel joined her in the year-long move to keep her company. She was happy to join her mother while her father and six siblings stayed in Pennsylvania.

“I wanted to move out here because I love to meet new people,” she said, and that’s pretty evident as she’s always surrounded by new friends.

Detzel is used to moving. She grew up in York, Pa., and also lived an hour outside of Philadelphia in Oxford, where it was common to be among the Amish.

“Yeah, we saw them,” Detzel said. “You guys have a farmer’s market here in South Pasadena. Let me tell you it’s not a Farmer’s Market. They actually grow (the food) and sell it.”

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Baseball: Keppel back in the news, for right reasons.

Keppel is back in the news, but this time it doesn’t invovle a coach resigning or a new coach coming in to get his feet wet.

This time the news is more of excitement and renewed energy surrounding the Aztecs baseball team, a team that for the first time in about 20 years made the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs. Keppel (8-17) gave its packed crowd more than just an appearance, the Aztecs gave them a 4-2 victory over Hawthorne on Tuesday in the wild card round and advance to Friday’s first round game at Elsinore.

Keppel coach Houston Hernandez said the school still is trying to figure out when exactly the Aztecs last made the playoffs.

“We’ve heard little less than two decades and a little over two decades,” Hernandez said. “But it’s been roughly 20 years.”

But there’s more.

“I just talked to one of the P.E. teachers and he said he thinks this is the first home playoff win since 1976 when we last won league.”

Hernandez proved to be exactly the right kind of coach Keppel needed when it hired him three years ago as a 25-year-old. The former St. Paul standout was the third coach in six years at Keppel, a school known to have programs with revolving doors. Hernandez was in charge of taking over a program that was 7-93 in the last five years prior to taking over, a program that had won 2 out of 75 league games as well.

But Hernandez, who had previously coached at Villa Park before taking over the Aztecs, had a plan.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be a quick fix,” he said. “I told them I’d be committed to them if they were committed to me. I told them to give me at least three years. In that three years if we haven’t done anything to open anybody’s eyes then they could go with someone else because I wouldn’t deserve to be here.”

Looks like Hernandez is in the for the long term now.

Keppel was trailing 2-1 going into the sixth on Tuesday against Hawthorne. The Aztecs put together a two-out rally and scored three runs to all but seal the win.

Keppel finished tied for third in league with Schurr, but the Aztecs earned the automatic berth after winning the series, 2-1.

Keppel on Friday will make an all-day event out of going to Elsinore. Regardless of the outcome, the Aztecs return eight sophomores and three juniors, led by juniors Ruben Medina (.288, 13 RBIs) and Will Hatem (.338, 11 RBIs, one home run).

In short, the future looks bright.

“It’s good for them to experience this now,” Hernandez said. “They already know what to expect next year.”

But no future burns bright without the right man at the helm. No need to worry, Hernandez is staying put.

“I’ve had a couple offers to leave as far as last year to go to another place and be a head coach,” he said. “But when you’re building your team and you don’t want to leave until it’s accomplished as far as you can take a program, and we’re not there yet.

“So I’m here to stay.”

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Baseball: Arcadia’s collapse completed in 3-2 defeat.

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

ARCADIA – Long after the final pitch and well after the final team huddle, most of the Arcadia High School baseball players sat in silence in the dugout with blank stares.

Five others were in the outfield, stunned by how the final two weeks transpired, an Apaches season filled with promise that came to a screeching halt with a 3-2 loss to Santa Barbara on Tuesday in the wild-card round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.

There were no words needed to express their disappointment, and Arcadia coach Nick Lemas all but followed suit when trying to dissect where it all went wrong, not just in the playoffs but in the final two weeks of the season that saw the Apaches (19-8) go from title contenders after opening league play with 10 consecutive wins to a team in search of its identity before stumbling to a five-game losing streak.

“That’s the most games we’ve lost in a long time,” Lemas said. “And it was all done in a two-week span.”

In that span, Arcadia had its 41-game Pacific League winning streak snapped in a rare loss at home and lost its chance to clinch a share of the league title with a loss to rival Crescenta Valley in the final game of the regular season.

In the end, the Apaches could only muster six runs in 35 innings in five games. Arcadia’s funk continued well into Tuesday as it scattered seven hits and went 1 for 9 with runners on base.

“We’re in a team slump,” said a somber Lemas. “We needed to make plays and we didn’t. It’s been that way for two weeks.”

It should be pointed out that in Arcadia’s five-game span the Apaches have faced formidable pitching, and it was no different against Santa Barbara (16-13), which sent Kenny Crawford to the mound. He needed only 78 pitches (52 for strikes) to go the distance. He struck out two and allowed two earned runs on seven hits.

But consecutive errors in the sixth may have been too much for the Apaches to recover from.

Max St. John led off with a single between the shortstop-third base gap. Steve Hirschberg came in as the courtesy runner and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. But the ball was mishandled, allowing Toby Minehan to reach first safely. Jason Jimenez also showed bunt and got the sacrifice to advance the runners, but the ball again was mishandled, loading the bases with no outs.

Connor McManigal scored Hirschberg on a sacrifice fly to center, giving the Dons a 3-1 lead they would not relinquish.

Erik Trask got out of the bases-loaded jam and got an Arcadia rally started in the sixth when he led off with a double on the first pitch. He reached third on a groundout and Gary Huang drove him in on a groundout to pull the Apaches within 3-2. Brandon Benson then singled to right and stole second, but was left stranded when Troy Resch grounded out.

“They made the plays, got the hits and did what they had to do to come down here to beat us and we didn’t,” Lemas said.

Arcadia took a 1-0 lead in the third. Darren Kerfoot got it started when he singled up the middle on the first pitch. He stole second and advanced to third on a David Dominguez infield single to put runners on the corners with no outs. Drew Klein grounded into a double play, but Kerfoot was able to score.

Arcadia got into some trouble in the fourth after John Brontsema on a 1-1 count connected for a double to the right-center field gap. He then advanced to third on an Andrew Cordiero wild pitch before Michael Day drew a four-pitch walk, bringing up Zach Torres with no outs. The first out came shortly after when Torres was called for interference.

But then St. John connected on the first pitch for a single to shallow right, scoring Brontsema to tie the game at 1-1. That was enough to knock out Cordiero from the game.

Trask then came into the game and struck out the first batter he faced on three pitches and got the next batter to fly out to right to end the threat, leaving two runners stranded.

Santa Barbara took a 2-1 lead in the fifth when Connor McManigal, who led off with a triple, scored on a Michael Day sacrifice fly.

When Santa Barbara walked to their chartered bus, several players were mesmerized at the decorated wall that listed Arcadia’s impressive feats through its history. They pointed to the asterisks in the 2010 and 2011 seasons when the Apaches went undefeated in league.

Impressed, they high-fived knowing they knocked out a team that had accomplished so much and certainly had bigger aspirations than a wild-card game appearance.

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