This years pitching core is sensational, Plutko, Mathews, Paez, Pedroza, Santiago, but is anyone doing more for their team than Sierra Vista’s Christian Huerta, who is batting .583 with nine doubles, four homers along with a 6-1 record and 0.94 ERA? If you haven’t seen him, he could start and be nails for anyone.
The San Gabriel Valley is filled with quality pitchers. Just look at Bishop Amat High School. The Lancers, arguably the top team in the state, are led by senior left-hander Paul Paez, who is 7-0 with a 0.31 ERA and signed a letter of intent with San Diego. Glendora’s Adam Plutko could be the area’s top Major League Baseball draft prospect. The UCLA-bound senior is 5-1 with a 0.95 ERA. Diamond Bar has the area’s best underclassman in junior left-hander Kenny Mathews. The Cal State Fullerton commit is 5-1 with a 1.11 ERA after suffering his first loss on Friday against Plutko and the Tartans. Others having good seasons include Charter Oak’s Travis Santiago, 4-0 with an area-best 0.25 ERA, and Northview’s Eddie Pedroza, who threw a perfect game last week against Ganesha. But there probably is nobody doing as much for his team offensively and defensively than Sierra Vista senior Christian Huerta, who has 10 consecutive hits in his past three games with 11 RBIs and is batting .583.
He also has four home runs, nine doubles and two triples for the surging Dons (11-4, 4-0).
“He’s really been amazing,” Sierra Vista coach Brett Stevens said of Huerta. “He’s not a big guy at all, but he has the strongest wrists. He’s really improved himself tremendously at the plate to make him more of a complete player.”
Huerta also has established himself as one of the area’s best pitchers.
He’s only 5-foot-8 and weighs 150 pounds, but he throws a mid-80s fastball with three other pitches and is 6-1 with a 0.94 ERA.
Huerta’s 66 strikeouts tie him with the harder-throwing Plutko for most strikeouts in the Valley. Paez is one back at 65.
“Christian lost a game 3-0 to Monrovia early in the season, but just like last year he’s caught fire again and is pitching well,” Stevens said. “He lost a no-hitter to Gladstone in the seventh inning and had a one-hitter against Workman.
“He strikes guys out and doesn’t give up much. He only has 11 walks, which tells you a lot about his control. He isn’t striking guys out because he’s blowing them away. He’s doing it with great pitches.”
Because of his size, Huerta likely will wind up at one of the area community colleges instead of going straight to a four-year school.
“If he can prove himself at that level, and I believe he will, then he will get his opportunity at a four-year school,” Stevens said. “He just has to continue to work, continue to work on his grades and if he can do that, he’s got a lot of baseball ahead of him.”
Most teams have played 20 games because of participation in multiple tournaments, but La Puente is benefiting from playing in no tournaments and just four nonleague games.
The Warriors are 8-2 and 6-0 in the Montview League, with back-to-back games against Sierra Vista in the final week that could decide the league title.
“We were scheduled to be in the Don Lugo Tournament, but they lost our paperwork. We were changing athletic directors so it never happened,” Warriors coach Brian Day said. “We’re young and I’m not sure we have the arms to play four or five games in a week, so I think the lack of games has helped keep our arms fresh and the kids focused.
“Next year we’re going to be real solid. I’ve already entered us in the Glendora and Northview tournaments because I feel so good about what we have coming back. But this year, we’re fighting. We know it’s probably going to be us and Sierra Vista fighting for the title, so this is a chance for us to gain some experience.”
Sophomore pitcher Raymond Sedillo has been a big part of their success. He’s 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA.
Junior Jimmy Jacobo is batting. 400 with 10 doubles.
“We’ve got a lot of talent, they’re just young,” Day said. “Jacobo is a player who can probably play at the next level.”