By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
STORY ONLINE: Adrian De Horta wasn’t perfect for the South Hills High School baseball team, but the senior pitcher was as close to perfection as it gets.
The areas best high school prospect lived up to the billing by going 11-1 with a 1.46 ERA and 97 strikeouts to lead South Hills to a third consecutive Sierra League title and a CIF-Southern Section Division 2 quarterfinal appearance.
De Horta wasn’t just dangerous on the hill, he delivered with his bat too, batting .366 with 22 RBIs, eight doubles, two triples and 13 runs scored.
For his efforts, De Horta, who was selected the Sierra League most valuable player, also has been selected the San Gabriel Valley Tribune baseball player of the year for 2013.
The feared right-hander was greeted by Major League Baseball scouts whenever he pitched and was selected last week in the eighth round (238th overall) of MLB’s June draft by the San Diego Padres.
But De Horta was also recruited by several Division 1 schools before choosing power Cal State Fullerton, who boasts last year’s Tribune player of the year, pitcher Justin Garza from Bonita, and former Northview High shortstop Richie Pedroza.
De Horta hasn’t decided what he will do, but South Hills coach Kevin Smith has no doubt what his next team will get.
“He turned into a tremendous leader, he really did,” Smith said. “I’ve had kids that worked hard and I don’t want to say he was the hardest worker ever eve, but he had an incredible work ethic and became super competitive. He never wanted to come out, he was a bulldog.”
An example of that came in De Horta’s final game, already tired after helping the Huskies get past San Clemente 4-3 earlier in the week, he pitched on three days rest in their quarterfinal 2-1 loss to Vista Murrieta in the quarterfinals.
“He pitched the first two innings and that was it,” Smith said. “He was fighting me to come out and really fighting back the tears because he wanted to keep going.
“But I knew he had enough. He had given us everything he had. Players like that don’t come around too often.”
Coaches of the Year: MIKE REGAN & MARK CHIAPPELLI, San Dimas
The Saints’ co-head coaches were named the coaches of the year after dominating the Valle Vista League, which was no easy task with four teams posting 20-plus wins. In addition, three Valle Vista league teams advanced to the CIF-SS Division 4 quarterfinals, and two, including San Dimas and Baldwin Park, advancing to the semifinals.
The Saints finished 26-7 and 11-1 in the Valle Vista League, losing only to Baldwin Park while sweeping pre-season league favorites Northview and Nogales.
The Saints lost in the Division 4 semifinals to eventual champion, Oaks Christian.
“We had a lot of magic,” Mike Regan said. “I told our kids all year they could win and beat anybody.”
The Saints won the league title by two games, sweeping Northview in the final week.
“Having four teams with 20 wins, every game was a battle,” Chiappelli said. “Our kids did a great job coming together and buying into the program. But it was still a grind every single game facing the arms we had to face in league.”
Parker Merritt, Bonita, Pitcher, Sr.
Named the Hacienda League pitcher of the year from the league champion Bearcats. He was sensational throughout the season, finishing 8-1 with a 0.91 ERA. Merritt tossed three shutouts, had six complete games and only allowed 10 earned runs the entire season.
Jimmy Lambert, San Dimas, Pitcher, Sr.
The Valle Vista League first-team selection led the Saints to the league title and the CIF-SS Division 4 semifinals. Lambert was sensational throughout, finishing 13-1 with a 1.18 ERA, including eight complete games and two shutouts. He also finished with 80 strikeouts in 94 innings.
Jacob Blunt, Bonita, Catcher, Sr.
The Hacienda League first-team selection was widely considered the best all-around catcher in the area. Besides being great defensively, Blunt batted .458 with 28 RBIs and 11 doubles for the league champion Bearcats. In a 9-0 win over Los Altos, Blunt finished with two doubles and three RBIs.
Zeph Walters, Diamond Bar, Infielder, Sr.
Helped lead the Bearcats to a 22-7 record and CIF-SS Division 3 semifinal appearance. The Hacienda League first-team infielder/pitcher batted .358 with 13 doubles, 28 RBIs and two home runs. On the mound, Walters was 11-2 with a 1.24 ERA. He had four complete games and finished with 103 Ks.
Ben Fonseca, Baldwin Park, Infielder, Sr.
The Valle Vista League shortstop/pitcher was named the league MVP and helped lead the Braves to the CIF-SS Division 4 semifinals. He batted .444 with 16 RBIs, 11 doubles and on the mound was stellar, finishing 10-2 with a 1.06 ERA. He had four complete games and two shutouts.
David Denson, South Hills, Infielder, Sr.
In his only year of high school baseball, the University of Hawaii commit was named a Sierra League first-team selection for the league champion Huskies. The big lefty batted .446 with seven HRs, 11 doubles, two triples and 27 RBIs.
Kollby Oriti, Northview, Infielder, Sr.
The emotional first base/pitcher was named to the Valle Vista League first-team and helped the Vikings reach the CIF-SS Division 4 quarterfinals. He batted .441 with 21 doubles, 10 triples, 23 RBIs and two home runs. In 21 innings on the hill, Oriti was 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA.
Adam Alcantara, Bishop Amat, Outfielder, Sr.
The Del Rey League first-team selection helped the Lancers reach the second round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs. He had another great season with the bat, hitting .367 with eight doubles, two home runs and a team-leading 36 RBIS. He also had seven stolen bases.
Elias Orona, San Dimas, Outfielder, Jr.
The Saints’ best hitter helped lead his team to the Valle Vista League title and the Division 4 semifinals. Named to the Valle Vista first team, the speedy outfielder batted .438 with six doubles, three triples, three home runs and 30 RBIs. He also had seven stolen bases.
DJ Peters, Glendora, Outfielder, Jr.
The 6-foot-4 power-hitting outfielder was named to the Baseline League first-team after a stellar season. Peters hit for average, batting .430 to go with six home runs, five doubles, two triples and a team-best 24 RBIs. He went 3-for-5 with two home runs in a late season encounter against league champ Los Osos.
Eric Gonzalez, Nogales, Utility, Sr.
Played outfield, shortstop, catcher and pitched for the Nobles, earning Valle Vista League first-team honors for his diverse play. On the hill, Gonzalez was 9-2 with a 1.41 ERA and 100 strikeouts. And he was just as dangerous with his bat, hitting .321 with 15 RBIs.
1. Bonita (25-4-1)
2. San Dimas (26-7)
3. South Hills (22-7)
4. Diamond Bar (22-7)
5. Baldwin Park (23-6)
6. Northview (23-9)
7. Glendora (17-10)
8. Bishop Amat (19-12)
9. Damien (17-11)
10. Nogales (22-7)
Baseline: Los Osos
Del Rey: Serra
Montview: Sierra Vista, La Puente
Mission Valley: Arroyo
Sierra: South Hills
Valle Vista: San Dimas
Pitcher — Andrew Eppenbach, Bishop Amat, Jr.
Pitcher — Sam Stavang, Bonita, Sr.
Utility — Jordan Abernathy, Damien, Jr.
Utility — Adrian Solchaga, Gladstone, Sr.
Catcher — Daniel Millwee, San Dimas, Jr.
Infielder — Justin Row, Bonita, Sr.
Infielder — Adrian Guzman, Nogales, Sr.
Infielder — Jake Grijalva, Northview, Sr.
Infielder — Logan Murratalla, San Dimas, So.
Outfielder — Bernardo Flores, Baldwin Park, Sr.
Outfielder — Niko Contreras, South Hills, Sr.
Outfielder — Ethan Etchebarren, La Puente, Sr.
Outfielder — Chad Hockin, Damien, Sr.
Pitcher — Robert Iwasaki,Los Altos, Sr.
Pitcher — Sean Patton, Diamond Bar, Sr.
Pitcher — Scott Burke, Glendora, Sr.
Pitcher — Niko Castaneda, Northview, Sr.
Infielder — Martin Gallegos Glendora, Sr.
Infielder — Evan Claproth, Bishop Amat, Sr.
Infielder — Steven San Miguel Rosemead, Sr.
Infielder — Christian Novelo, Sierra Vista, Jr.
Infielder — Jordan Abernathy Damien, Jr.
Infielder — Jeremy Giles, Claremont, Sr.
Infielder — Dominic Hilo, Baldwin Park, Sr.
Outfielder — Tony Muniz, South Hills, Sr.
Outfielder — Robert Longtree, Ayala, Sr.
Outfielder — Nolan Luzzi, Diamond Bar, Jr.
Outfielder — Joey Franco, Los Altos, Sr.
Outfielder — Darren Benton, West Covina, Sr.
Catcher — Joey Morreale, Los Altos, Jr.
Catcher — Juan Amaya, El Monte, Jr.