What happened to Damien and Bishop Amat baseball? Both in danger of missing the playoffs

Damien and Bishop Amat baseball are two of the biggest disappointments in the CIF-Southern Section this season. The Spartans, 11-9 overall and 4-6 in the Sierra League, boast UCLA bound pitchers Grant Hockin and Jonathan Olsen, but may miss the playoffs entirely. If the Spartans, ranked 9th in the CIF-SS preseason Division 2 poll, fall again to South Hills on Thursday, not only will their playoff hopes be on life support, they could find themselves finishing last if they continue to free fall. This is a team that was so highly thought of, online’s Perfect Game ranked Damien No. 23 in its preseason NATIONAL rankings. I can hear the conspiracy theorists now. Is Damien throwing in the towel to prove it should remain in the Sierra League. Of course not, but it would help with their position while they fight the move to an all private school league. Bishop Amat, ranked fourth in the preseason Division 4 poll and ranked fifth in the L.A. Times’ preseason Southern California Rankings, climbed over .500 to 11-10 with a 7-3 victory over La Salle on Tuesday. The Lancers are fighting St. Paul for third-place and the final playoff spot in the Del Rey. What happened to our private school baseball giants that have a combined record of 22-19? And what does this say to all the public school complainers that private school’s have an advantage that public school’s don’t? What it tells me is a free education is a pretty strong advantage as well.

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  • Valley Athletics

    Fred . Amat,cathedral and St. Paul are battling for 2nd and third . No one can compete with Serra for first . Amat is at full strength now and has not lost since everyone has returned from injuries.cathedral is good but losing 3 key players to warren and Amat makes them vulnerable in back 2 backs against better teams. Alan trejo would of made cathedral a more consistent team . Damien is young . Expect them to be a force next 2 years.

    • http://twitter.com/SGVNSports Fred J. Robledo

      I’m just saying they had higher expectations than 11-9 and 11-10 respectively.

      • http://twitter.com/SGVNSports Fred J. Robledo

        BTW, Cathedral and Serra are 5-0, Amat is 3-2 and fighting off others for third.

        • Valley Athletics

          Your correct about there expectations . But in the playoff battle , the battle is still between cathedral , St. Paul and amat for 2nd and 3rd . Serra is just to talented for anyone in league .cathedral has to win the second game against St. Paul and still has Amat and Serra on schedule . I don’t think cathedral could beat Amat twice , so I predict amat at second or coin flipping for second with cathedral .

  • Lance R

    Come on Fred, you sure do not talk that way come football season win or lose with our Lancers. Why is baseball any different?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ptyrone Patrick Tyrone

    Well Diamond Bar dropped a 2-0 decision to Walnut today! Here they go with the downward spiral!! that they are know for!! Whats even worse??,….THey got 1 hit !!!

    • Valley Athletics

      Did not see that coming .walnut hasn’t been that good all year . Walnut pony produces some top talent . Walnut would be very good if all there players stayed . They lost kolbi oriti to northview , Aaron pinto to St. Paul . Both great pitchers and hitters . Luis and Christian moya at amat . James Johnson , a sophmore starter at south hills

      • HSbaseballwatcher

        Don’t forget to mention the freshman from Walnut starting on Damien varsity. Yes Damien is young, should be interesting to watch them the next few years. All teams have up and down years.

        • Valley Athletics

          Didn’t know about freshmen from walnut on Damien varsity .thats alot of talent

  • http://twitter.com/NoCal_Al Al Saito

    Diamond Bar is very talented and they are going to be fine. Walnut’s Robert Iwasaki was very good on the hill today and deserves the credit. Iwasaki has given up one run in his last 31 IP, so he is no fluke.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ptyrone Patrick Tyrone

      Hopefully your right! but that loss does hurt! in terms of chasing down Bonita for a piece of the league title!

  • Just Saying…

    Give Cathedral some credit. Cathedral has become a “true team” since
    they lost players. Cathedral may or may not be as talented as Amat or
    Serra, but they will compete, more than you give them credit for.
    Cathedral is young, but hard-working. Give credit where credit is do. Your bias for Amat is obvious making your comments less valid.

  • From What I See

    Well if freshman baseball at Amat is any indication as to how varsity is ran, the coaches appear to play who they like the most or who they know instead of the best players. Instead of allowing everyone to compete, they just give spots to kids, for whatever reason. Way too much politics involved, which is a shame because they are playing with kids’ future. I now understand why kids transfer out, because they are on the bench watching kids play that they are better than. Since the freshman team is under the same umbrella as the varsity, I’m guessing it’s the same way all around. Who knows how many players Amat has lost because they were being mistreated or victims of politics. Sooner or later not playing your best players is bound to catch up with you. So maybe that’s what has happened to Amat baseball. It’s a shame for ANY program to be like that but especially one such as Amat.

  • baseball dad

    For years, Amat baseball was the only game in town. If your kid played baseball in the San Gabriel Valley, there was only one program you wanted to play for. This came with a price (tuition).

    The last couple of season, several public school baseball programs have flourished in the San Gabriel Valley. Kids and parents who want to play baseball have options.

    You are no longer stuck with:
    * tuition expenses
    * A couch who thinks he is bigger then the game or high school
    * Verbal abuse from coaches
    * False promises
    * Not given a chance to compete for a position because the position was promised to a kid who plays for an elite baseball club

    Many talented baseball players are staying away from the Amat Baseball program. And many talented baseball players are transferring out of the Amat High School. All because of the reasons listed above.

    It’s time for the coach to step down from his self made pedestal and teach and coach the game to his current player. Seven errors in a game is a reflection of the coach, not the program.

    It’s going to be awhile before the next Rio Ruiz enrolls at Amat to resurrect the program.

    • Valley Athletics

      There has always been good bAseball programs in the valley. Not just Amat . South hills , bonita, Glendora, northview just to name a few . Players like Rio Ruiz don’t come around the valley that often . Ruiz was a legitimate first round pick .

  • Notgettingenoughplayingtime

    Same old tired excuse for those who get beat out by some other talented athlete.

    Same old excuse I played for daddy all my life and the coach is mean.
    Same old excuse the coach did this, the program is that.

    Good luck at public school.

  • TheCloser

    It’s funny how this article was about Damien and Amat and it turned into a hate on Amat thread. LOL Lots of Amat haters out there!

    I will say this. My daughter choose to go to Amat over great public schools in our area where she knew the coaches and grew up playing travel with some of the players. She walked into a situation with a stacked roster, no guarantees, no promises, no tuition help, had to pay for camps while in 8th grade, nothing given to her, etc. Our experience at Amat has been first class and I don’t have to kiss anyone’s a$$. So politics, I haven’t seen it.

    • bruins4life

      Well, I am glad your experience has been wonderful for your daughter and perhaps it is different for softball. But as a parent for the baseball program, everything is true and the politics are outrageous. If your child doesn’t play travel for specific teams, your chances are slim to none to actually see play time. It’s a shame and I am having doubts of sending my younger son in a few years. I hope their is a change.

      • TheCloser

        From a practical standpoint, does it make sense for the coaches to play favorites to lose games, reputation, and ultimately dollars?

        • bruins4life

          No it does not make sense, but unfortunately it is happening. Check out the varsity, they have 29 on their roster and only about 10 play. So looking at their record, I guess reputation does not matter nor does the chance of losing prosepective players, it’s all about who you know and where you play.

          • Ontheinside

            Of course everyone is upset when the team is losing. Most games lost were due to errors, but the best 10 are playing. 29 is a lot but most of the kids not playing are pitchers and seniors. What is the answer then, cut them so they are not part of a team at all? Does your kid play in an elite travel club? Is he in the Perfect Game circuit? Do you know Amat has been playing the top ranked teams during non-league? Then throw in some of the top ranked kids in the country transfer to Serra. When Amat was on top, they did not play this schedule. It’s not about favorites or politics.

          • StatMan

            I agree with Ontheinside; Nieto has probably done his best coaching job this year having to juggle and tweak the lineup due to some injuries to key players. The team struggled early, but are playing solid baseball now. I have been to every game, and the parents who complain have sons that don’t play much….those riding the bench got their shot during fall ball and preseason, and the ones playing now earned it. I hope that next year Nieto carries fewer players; his policy has always been to carry seniors on varsity if they have been with the program since freshman year–regardless if they are not varsity caliber players…this should change so hopefully the griping will diminish.

  • HSBaseballFan

    Yes, Fred, Damien baseball should have had a great season with its tremendous depth of talent. The Damien roster shows 12 sophomores and that is probably why Valley Athletics chalks up its dismal season to being a young team because Valley Athletics says “expect them to be a force in the next two years.” One would think that is why the team has struggled but that is not the case. There are only about three sophomores that play in a game at any one time. Mostly Seniors and Juniors have been playing. The team is losing because Coach Leyva does not know how to manage talent. Remember, this is a team that was ranked (preseason) 23rd in the nation by Perfect Game and 20th by the LA Times. All Coach Leyva had to do was effectively manage his group of players. He now holds a disappointing 4-7 record in Sierra League. The hard truth is Al Leyva is not a winner. The Damien baseball program has been his for several years. Talent has been handed to him on a silver platter time, and time again, and yet he has shown that he does not know how to manage it. Only Coach Leyva is to blame for the disappointing Damien baseball season.

    • Valley Athletics

      Correct. I don’t know who are the starters . A family friend who has a kid on jv said that the varsity team had 12 sophomores and most of them from the patriots travel team . Plus the players you do hear about from Damien hockins and Olsen are young . Some other guy mentioned on here that the team had a couple freshmen from the walnut area that starts . So I guess he is incorrect on that .

  • From What I See

    To Thecloser..softball is obviously different. maybe you should consider yourself lucky that your daughter hasn’t had to go through this but I have seen it and it is obvious. I am planning to send my son to Amat but I don’t want him to sit on the bench simply because he didn’t play for a particular travel ball team. That’s ridiculous!
    @Notgettingenufplayingtime…. I have been to quite a few games and I am watching the better players sit on the bench! They eventually get in the game and it’s like “where was he in the first place.” It’s like that in a few positions! After asking around I find out that many of the kids starting, come from the same travel ball teams. Now by all means, if they are the best players they SHOULD be starting, but that’s not the case from what I’ve seen. I at least want my son to have a FAIR shot if I send him there.

    • TheCloser

      I have a boy coming to Amat in two years that isn’t a Duke or Arsenal player and I don’t plan on having him be part of those programs. If that’s a requirement for playing I’ll find another place if that’s how it works. Plenty of other great schools out there but my kids have always wanted to be Lancers so they get first crack. With the 30 day transfer sit rule it’s easy to go somewhere else these days anyways.

      Like I tell my employees, you make a decision to come to work everyday, if you don’t like it we’re not the only company out there so don’t create problems and just leave.

      • Valley Athletics

        Most of the players are actually from the bombers . Only a selected few are from the arsenal . If you are an arsenal player ,it usually means you are a top area player . It’s not easy to make it on the arsenal