SGV TRIBUNE ALL-AREA PHOTO GALLERY
By Stephen Ramirez
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Scott Hurst, Bishop Amat, Sr.
Bishop Amat High School features arguably the richest baseball tradition in the area.
It includes winning nine CIF-Southern Section divisional titles and a good list of former players who went on to play Major League Baseball, including recently retired Michael Young, of the Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies and the Dodgers, and pitcher Dan Haren, who is on the Dodgers’ starting staff this season.
But of the Lancers nine CIF-SS titles, this season’s road to championship glory was the most unexpected. It included a four-game losing streak to end the season and was capped by three come-from-behind wins, including a 4-3 victory over top-seeded Palm Desert in the Division 3 title game.
A key component for the Lancers’ run to the title was senior outfielder/pitcher Scott Hurst, who was one of the area’s better offensive players and arguably the top closer. But it was his role as a leader that turned the tide for Bishop Amat.
“The season was a roller coaster,” Hurst said. “A lot our guys got down on themselves and us five seniors just tried to keep the team motivated. It brought us all the way to Dodger Stadium and we wound up (winning). It was a heckuva season, one I’ll never forget.”
For his efforts, Hurst, who will play at traditional power Cal State Fullerton next season, is Tribune Baseball Player of the Year.
Bishop Amat, which opened the season with four losses, appeared dead in the water a little more than a month ago after losing back-to-back games to rival St. Paul. But the Lancers, helped by Hurst’s leadership, strung together 10 wins to close the season. They capped the run with three come-back victories, including a 4-3 win over top seed Palm Desert to win the Division 3 title.
It was Bishop Amat’s ninth division title, and its fourth since 2007.
Hurst keyed surge, ranking among area leaders with a .419 batting average, with 25 RBIs and 15 extra-base hits, including six triples. He finished off the final three victories with saves in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. In three innings, he retired nine of 10 batters, givng up just a walk while striking out five. He finished the season with 19 strikeouts in 11 innings.
“I was just trying to pound the zone all year,” Hurst said. “It was my first year closing. I was trying to get the hang of it all year. It wound up working out well for our team.”
Now Hurst begins the next state of his baseball career, signing with Cal State Fullerton.
“I feel real confident going to Fullerton, which is another great program,” Hust said. “I still have some things to work on, but I think I’ll fit right in.”
COACH OF THE YEAR: Andy Nieto, Bishop Amat
Andy Nieto, in eight seasons, has arguably become the area’s top coach. He’s won four divisional titles while also scoring some marquee wins titles. But this might be his best effort. The Lancers lost their first four games and looked in danger of missing the playoffs after a lost week against rival St. Paul. But Nieto was able to keep the team motivated and eventually the Lancers caught fire and finished the season with a 10-game win streak, including ending the season with three come-back victories to win the school’s ninth division title.
For his efforts, Nieto is Tribune Coach of the Year.
“Our guys(were) extremely resilient,” Nieto said. “They never quit. We had a lot of doubters. But those doubters learned an important life lesson — never doubt the spirit of the team. I’m proud of our guys. They deserved everything they’ve received and they deserve to be (champions).”
GAVIN VELASQUEZ, South Hills, Junior, Pitcher
Not a lot was expected from Velasquez to begin the season, but he turned out to be a hidden gem for South Hills. He was 10-1-1 with a school-record 0.67 ERA. He had five shutouts and gave up just one earned run during his first 29 innings. He also had 75 strikeouts in 83 innings. He was first team All-Sierra League.
ALEX GARCIA, Bishop Amat, Senior, Pitcher
Garcia was the money pitcher for the Lancers, and a key factor in Amat rallying to win the school’s ninth CIF-SS title. He was 8-3 with a 2.72 ERA. The senior also had 105 strikeouts in 76 innings.
KALE MORTON, Glendora, Senior, Pitcher
Morton finished his career on the same level of past Tartan pitchers, including Wes Roemer and Adam Plutko. His 11-0 record was the best in school history. He also had a 1.58 ERA, while striking out 76 in 71 innings. The senior also hit .383 with nine RBIs as a designated hitter. He was Baseline League MVP.
DAVID BANUELOS, Damien, Senior, Catcher
Banuelos was an offensive machine for the Spartans. He hit .395 to rank among the area leaders. Ha also had 24 RBIs and had four home runs. The senior, who was first team All-Sierra League, was also solid defensively.
DANIEL MILLWEE, San Dimas, Senior, Utility
Millwee was a key contributor for the Saints, who advanced to the CIF-SS quarterfinals for the second consecutive season. The senior, who was San Dimas’ lead-off hitter, hit .330 and ranked among the area leaders with 30 runs scored. He also had 13 RBIs and had eight extra-base hits. He was first team All-Valle Vista League.
PETER LAMBERT, San Dimas, Junior, Infielder
Lambert keyed San Dimas to its second consecutive CIF-SS quarterfinal appearance. He was Valle Vista League MVP, going 11-1 with a 0.55 ERA. He also had 95 strikeouts in 76 innings. On offense, he hit .351 with 23 RBIs. Lambert also tossed a 1-hitter, flirting with a perfect game, in the playoffs.
ALEX GONZALEZ, Bonita, Junior, Infielder
Gonzalez keyed the Bearcats to another Hacienda League title. He ranked among area leaders with a .389 batting average and 28 RBIs. The junior was also one of the top defensive second basemen’s in the area. He was first team All-Hacienda League.
GRANT HOCKIN, Damien, Senior, Infielder
Hockin, the grandson of Pro Baseball Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, was Damien’s ace in the hole. He was one of the top pitchers in the area, going 9-3 with a 1.49 ERA. At the plate, he hit .379 with 15 RBIs and two home runs. The senior was co-Sierra League MVP. He was drafted in the second round by the Cleveland Indians. He signed with Cleveland, forgoing to play at UCLA.
ERIC GUTIERREZ, Sierra Vista, Senior, Infielder
Gutierrez played a major role in the Dons enjoying one of the better seasons in school history, which included their first appearance in the CIF-SS quarterfinals in 20 years. He was 9-1 with a 1.22 ERA. He also hit .466 with 18 RBIs. Gutierrez was Montview League MVP.
DJ PETERS, Glendora, Senior, Outfielder
Peters was Glendora’s offensive leader and a key factor in the Tartans winning the Baseline League title. He hit .359 with 20 RBIs. He also had four home runs and 11 doubles. Peters, who will play at traditional power Cal State Fullerton next season, was first team All-Baseline League.
ALEX LABOR, Northview, Senior, Outfielder
Labor played a major role in the Vikings advancing to the CIF-SS quarterfinals for the second consecutive season, including upsetting Division 4 top seed Kaiser in the second round. He ranked among area leaders, hitting .543. Labor was All-Valle Vista.
ELIAS ORONA, San Dimas, Senior, Outfielder
Orona was one of the top center fielders in the area. He was solid on offense, ranking among area leaders with a .344 average. He also had 20 RBIs. The senior played a big role in San Dimas advancing to the CIF-SS quarterfinals for the second consecutive season. He was All-Valle Vista League.
P: Nick Johnson, Bonita, So.
P: Isaac Archer, Bishop Amat, Jr.
P: Anthony Deeter, West Covina, Sr.
UT: Gerardo Ramirez, Diamond Bar, Jr.
C: Justin Cage, Glendora, Sr.
C: Kory Brown, Charter Oak, Sr.
INF: Michael Palos, Bishop Amat, Sr.
INF: Derek Martin, Arroyo, Sr.
INF: Jon Ayala, South Hills, Sr.
INF: Ryan Viramontes, West Covina, Sr.
OF: Jonathan Longtin, San Dimas, Jr.
OF: Justin Gomez, Bonita, Jr.
OF: Anthony Cuevas, Los Altos, Jr.
Glendora: Eric Flores, Sr., Inf/P
Bishop Amat: Adryan Ramirez, So. INF; Christian Moya, So. OF
Bonita: Joe Quire, Sr., INF; Ethan Muro, Sr. INF
Diamond Bar: Josh Sanchez, Sr. C
Walnut: Brennan McKenzie, So. INF
Sierra Vista: Christian Novelo, Sr. C
Damien: Jordan Abernathy, Sr. OF
San Dimas: Michael Starns, Sr. OF/P
FINAL TOP 10
1. Bishop Amat (21-11)
2. Glendora (21-7)
3. South Hills (21-6-1)
4. San Dimas (23-7-1)
5. Bonita (23-8)
6. Northview (18-12)
7. Diamond Bar (19-11)
8. Sierra Vista (22-4)
9. Walnut (15-13-2)
10. Arroyo (14-8)