By Steve Ramirez
Diamond Bar High School started strong last baseball season, only to see it come apart in Hacienda League play.
The Brahmas, who won their first five nonleague games this season, are determined to not let it happen again, and they’ve already received some early answers after splitting a league series with West Covina last week.
Diamond Bar improved to 6-1 after rebounding from a 4-1 loss to the Bulldogs at home with a 14-3 shellacking on the road.
“It meant a lot (to beat West Covina),” Diamond Bar coach Eric Shibley said. “I think the guys showed the type of character they have. We made some adjustments after the first game.
“But the kids didn’t drop their heads and were ready to play.”
Diamond Bar’s strength this season has been in a the return of 10 players who had significant playing time in 2012. They’ve showed that experience early on.
The keys have been senior Zeph Walters, who is hitting .500 with 10 RBIs, and sophomore infielder/pitcher Jacob Cooke, who is hitting .500 with seven RBIs. Senior pitcher Sean Patton, who got the win against West Covina, is 3-0 with a 1.24 ERA.
“We have so many returners from last year and they’ve all contributed,” Shibley said. “They are just playing very well right now.
“Our strength of schedule is not the toughest, but I like how the guys have come out. We’ll find out more about ourselves this week.”
The Brahmas face a key series this week, with a home-and-home set against Los Altos, the first coming Wednesday at home. They face the Conquerors in Hacienda Heights on Friday. Both games are at 3:30 p.m.
The Conquerors finished second in the Hacienda League last season, with Bonita winning it en route to the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 title. Both are the two favorites this season after advancing to the final four of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Invitational two weeks ago.
“We’ve seen them,” Shibley said. “They’ve gotten off to a good start playing some very good programs. Year in and year out, they are always ready to go. They’re scrappy, so we’ll have to be ready.”
LEAGUE RACES HEAT UP
All leagues will be in play this week, including the Valle Vista League, with opens up with some solid encounters.
The league race, which is expected to be a three-team chase between defending champion Nogales and traditional powers Northview and San Dimas, will begin with Northview facing a home and home against Covina, and Nogales getting Baldwin Park.
The Vikings host the rival Colts Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. Northview, which is 6-1, started the season 5-0 after winning the Dick’s Sporting Goods tournament before splitting with South Hills and Millikan last week.
Nogales, which is 8-0, is at Baldwin Park Tuesday at 3:15 p.m.
San Dimas, which 6-2, gets a home-and-home against Wilson. Covina is 4-3.
It’s also a big week in the Sierra, where favorite South Hills (6-1) is at Charter Oak (2-2) Tuesday before hosting Damien (3-3) on Thursday. Both games are at 3:30 p.m. The Huskies and Spartans began the season as the league favorites.
By Steve Ramirez