High School Baseball: Whittier Christian takes over first with win

By Eric Terrazas, Staff Writer

LA HABRA – It has long been said that timely hitting is an essential part of successful baseball.

That important feature served Whittier Christian High School well in Friday’s crucial Olympic League game against Heritage Christian. Senior designated hitter Josh McGee came through with the game’s biggest hit, a two-run single that helped lift the host Heralds to a 3-2 victory over Heritage Christian.

McGee’s hit capped a successful comeback by the Heralds, who overcame a 2-0 deficit after the fifth inning.

Friday’s triumph elevated Whittier Christian (13-9 overall, 5-3 in league) into first place in league.

“Any Olympic League win is a big win,” Heralds coach Brent Lavoie said. “We won at a time when we needed one. We’ve been playing nothing but close games in league. It usually comes down to one play or one pitch to decide the outcome.

“We did a good job of wanting to be the guy in the clutch position. It’s exciting to come out with a win.”

Whittier Christian started its rally in the bottom of the sixth inning. Sophomore catcher Cooper Hughes led off with an infield single, and after two consecutive groundouts advanced Hughes to third, sophomore second baseman/pitcher Mike Rubio extended the inning by drawing a walk.

Junior utility player Joseph Cobian then delivered a run-scoring single to make it 2-1.

That set the stage for McGee, who singled in two runs to make it 3-2.

“I was just hushing the butterflies and using them to my advantage,” McGee said of his clutch hit. “It felt great. I knew we were going to win. I just felt it.”

Heralds junior starting pitcher Mike Rafter, who earned the victory, scattered seven hits in six innings. Rubio, who pitched a scoreless seventh, earned the save.

Senior infielder David Clark collected a team-high two hits for Heritage Christian (12-7, 3-3). Warriors senior pitcher Jake Hasse went the distance, allowing 10 hits in six innings.

Heritage Christian took a 2-0 lead in the fifth. Clark started off the rally by reaching first base on a Whittier Christian error. He then advanced to third base on back-to-back groundouts.

Then senior shortstop Tanner Marcoe gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead with an infield single.

Hasse then helped his own cause by delivering a run-scoring double to right. Rafter, however, got out of the inning by retiring Eric Gordon on a grounder to first.

Cobian led the Heralds offensively with three hits. Rubio and sophomore outfielder J.J. Farrell each added two hits.

Whittier Christian will have a bye next week in league play. The Heralds’ next league game is scheduled for April 30 against Valley Christian.

“It was a big win,” Lavoie said. “It sets us up nicely for a firework finish in league. We get to rest up and then make a final push.”

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High School Baseball: Damage control works for Bishop Amat

Bishop Amat’s Adam Alcantara heads to third on a first-inning triple during Friday’s game against St. Paul. (Keith Birmingham / Staff Photographer)

Photo gallery: Bishop Amat-St. Paul baseball

By Steve Ramirez, Staff Writer

LA PUENTE – The mark of a good baseball team is to win when it’s not at its best.

Bishop Amat High School proved that adage Friday by getting an RBI single with with one out in the seventh inning for a 3-2 victory over visiting St. Paul in a Del Rey League game.

The Lancers, who overcame four errors and four walks from three pitchers to beat the Swordsmen for the second time this week, improved to 9-10 overall and 2-2 in league. St. Paul, which had tied it at 2-2 on a throwing error in the sixth, slipped to 15-9 and 2-2.

“Good teams find a way to access damage control,” Bishop Amat coach Andy Nieto said. “That’s what it was. We got ourselves in difficult situations.

“But we have a motto of if you give up one, fight hard to not give up two; if you give up two, fight hard to not give up three and so on.

“In those innings, it was one hit away from opening it up. We gave up one each time. I’m proud of these guys because that takes tough guys in that situation to put the frustration of the error behind them and get the focus on the next out, which is what we did. That’s a good sign.”

It also left the door open for Amat to get the win, and Adam Alcantara didn’t let that opportunity go to waste.

It was set up after pinch-hitters Andrew Dela Cruz and Luis Moya and Scott Hurst walked to load the bases with one out. Alcantara then grounded a 3-2 pitch from reliever Aaron Pinto through the drawn-in infield into center field to win it.

“With the bases loaded and only one out, you’re basically looking for a pitch to drive, up the gap, up the middle,” Alcantara said. “I was also looking to get it in the air and get a sacrifice fly, too.

“Luckily, I got my pitch, battled him to 3-2 and hit it back up the middle.”

St. Paul, which was held to three hits, had rallied to tie it at 2-2 by scoring a run in the fourth and sixth innings, each time taking advantage of a Bishop Amat miscue.

Gabriel Esquer led off the fourth with a walk, then advanced to third on a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt. He scored on a safety squeeze by Zack Ramsay.

Esquer walked to lead off the sixth. He advanced to second on a sacrifice and scored with two outs following a throwing error on a dropped third strike.

“You win games by getting clutch hits,” St. Paul coach Casey Morales said.

“Big guys make big plays. When there’s runners out there, that’s when you have to get the hit, not when there’s nobody on base and there’s two outs. When you go 1 for 3 then, that doesn’t mean anything.

“I want the guy who goes 1 for 5 that scores two runs. That’s the thing we’ve had real trouble doing. Once again today, it was missed opportunities, so until we do that we’re not going to be able to finish people off.”

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High School Baseball: Daniel Lopez’s two-hitter sparks Montebello

Montebello’s Jose Aparicio (10) is congratulated after scoring during Friday’s game against Alhambra. (Keith Durflinger / Staff Photographer)

Photo gallery: Montebello-Alhambra baseball

By John Sherrard, Correspondent

MONTEBELLO – Montebello High School pitcher Daniel Lopez was 0 for 3 with three strikeouts Friday, but not one of his teammates or coaches cared.

They even gathered in the dugout after the game for a mock cheer for his at-bats.

Things are going quite well for the Oilers baseball team, which defeated visiting Alhambra, 3-1, behind a complete-game, two-hit performance by Lopez in an Almont League game Friday.

“It’s always going to be a dogfight and I’ve been here (varsity) four years, and this is the first time we won the series,” Lopez said. “It’s a huge win for us.”

Montebello (10-7, 8-1) is in prime position to win its first outright league title since the 2004 season when it won back-to-back crowns. Alhambra (10-6, 7-2) has won the league championship the past eight years.

Both teams still have six league games remaining, but if the Moors have any thoughts of winning their ninth consecutive title, they must get some help.

“Just the fact that we’re a game up and we now have the tiebreaker in case there is a tie, it puts us in a good situation,” Montebello coach Rafael Gutierrez said.

“But we have some tough games coming up. We’ll enjoy this game and make sure we don’t lose focus.”

Montebello scored a run in the first inning for a 1-0 lead on a single by junior catcher Ryan Orozco (2 for 3) that scored shortstop Andrew Jimenez (1 for 3). Jimenez advanced to second on a throwing error by Alhambra pitcher Jose Amezquita (six strikeouts) and went to third on a wild pitch.

Alhambra, which reached the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 final last season, tied the game 1-1 in the third inning. Senior second baseman Andrew Arroyo singled, was sacrificed to second by catcher Brandon Morales and moved to third on an infield out. He then came home on an infield single by right fielder Jonah Lybarger, who advanced to second when Jimenez threw the ball low to first.

Alhambra had a chance to take the lead when Lopez attempted a pickoff of Lybarger, who moved to third after the ball was misplayed and went into center field. Lybarger rounded third but was thrown out on the relay from Lopez (2-0) to third baseman Jesse Flores.

Meanwhile, Amezquita (3-3) was in control through the fourth inning before the Oilers took the lead for good, 2-1.

Orozco singled and eventually came home on a fielders’ choice by right fielder Jaime Martinez (1 for 3, stolen base, two RBIs).

Martinez singled in pinch-runner Andres Santana to give the Oilers a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning.

“It’s always a great series (with Montebello), and our staff and their staff (have) been here a long time and they’re always close games,” Alhambra coach Steve Gewecke said.

“All I know is (that) we have six more league games and we really can’t lose any of them.”

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Friday’s Whittier-area baseball schedule

Here is the Whittier-area prep baseball schedule for Friday, April 19:

ALMONT LEAGUE
Alhambra at Montebello, 3:15 p.m.
Schurr at Bell Gardens, 5:45 p.m.

DEL REY LEAGUE
St. Paul at Bishop Amat, 3:15 p.m.

DEL RIO LEAGUE
El Rancho vs. Whittier at York Field, 3:15 p.m.
La Serna at Santa Fe, 3:15 p.m.
Pioneer at California, 3:15 p.m.

FREEWAY LEAGUE
Sunny Hills at La Habra, 3:15 p.m.

OLYMPIC LEAGUE
Heritage Christian at Whittier Christian, 3:30 p.m.

SUBURBAN LEAGUE
Glenn at La Mirada, 3 p.m.

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2013 All-Area Girls Soccer Team: La Serna’s Moriah Earley leads Whittier Daily News picks

Moriah Earley from La Serna High School was selected as the Whittier Daily News All-Area Girls Soccer Player of the Year. (Keith Durflinger / Staff photographer)

Photo gallery: 2013 Whittier Daily News All-Area Girls Soccer Team

By Eric Terrazas, Staff Writer

Player of the Year: MORIAH EARLEY, La Serna, Senior

La Serna’s Moriah Earley took her game to another level as she emerged as the top player for a talented Lancer team.

Earley scored a team-high 21 goals in helping to lead the Lancers to a Del Rio League title and the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 championship. One of Earley’s biggest moments came in La Serna’s 3-2 win over La Quinta in the Division 5 semifinals. She scored two goals with the latter being the game-winner.

For her outstanding season, Earley was named the Daily News Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

It was certainly a season of accomplishments for Earley, who was also named the most valuable player for both CIF-SS Division 5 and the Del Rio League.

“It was a great feeling,” Earley said on the Lancers’ successful season. “We worked for a long time for this and for it to finally happen was a good feeling. We just worked hard and we trusted each other to get it done.”

Earley followed up her heroics against La Quinta by scoring a goal in La Serna’s 3-0 triumph over Cabrillo of Lompoc in the CIF-SS Division 5 title game. As a result of the Lancers capturing the divisional crown, they earned their first berth to the CIF-Southern California Regional Soccer Championships.

La Serna coach Tessa Troglia said of Earley, “She came a long way from the beginning of the season. She was a good leader for us and she got the other girls to buy into our vision. She did everything we asked her to do. She is a good student of the game.”

Earley, a four-year varsity player, recently committed to USC.

“I like the program and the school,” Earley said of the Trojans. “It was just a good fit.”

When she prepares for a match, Earley said, “I pray, read my Bible, listen to my music and just try to get into the zone.”

Earley put together an impressive postseason for the Lancers, scoring six goals in as many games.

Coach of the Year: TESSA TROGLIA, La Serna

Troglia guided a Lancers team that made its share of history this season. After capturing the Del Rio League title, La Serna went on to capture the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 championship by defeating Cabrillo of Lompoc 3-0. It marked the second time La Serna won a CIF-SS divisional crown with the first coming in 2008.

As a result of their CIF-SS divisional triumph, the Lancers also qualified for the CIF-Southern California Regional Soccer Championships for the first time in school history.

For her efforts, Troglia was named the Daily News Girls Soccer Coach of the Year.

“I feel very blessed just to have an opportunity to coach a diverse group of girls,” Troglia said. “It’s a good feeling. They became everything that we hoped for. They ended up being a dynamic team that could attack through several outlets. They put La Serna in the limelight a little more.”

Troglia was also named the All-CIF coach of the year for Division 5.

Read more:  2013 All-Area Girls Soccer Team: La Serna’s Moriah Earley leads Whittier Daily News picks 

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2013 All-Area Boys Soccer Team: El Rancho’s Cristian Roldan leads Whittier Daily News picks

Christian Roldan from El Rancho High School was selected as the Whittier Daily News All-Area Boys Soccer Player of the Year. (Keith Durflinger / Staff photographer)

Photo gallery: 2013 Whittier Daily News All-Area Boys Soccer Team

By Eric Terrazas, Staff Writer

Player of the Year: CRISTIAN ROLDAN, El Rancho, Senior

Cristian Roldan saved the best for last as he finished his El Rancho soccer career on quite the high note.

The Dons’ top player scored 54 goals and delivered 30 assists as he helped lead El Rancho to both the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 and CIF-State Division I Southern California Regional championships.

Roldan, a senior forward, collected his share of awards, which included All-CIF Division 3 most valuable player honors and the Del Rio League’s MVP.

For playing a central role in El Rancho’s historic season, Roldan was named the Daily News Boys Soccer Player of the Year.

“It’s just a great feeling,” Roldan said as he looked back on the 2012-13 season. “We pulled it together in the end and we came out on top. Overall, it was a long season full of ups and downs. But like I said, the last games count the most and we were undefeated come playoff time.”

Roldan, who also won last year’s Daily News Player of the Year award, will soon take his game to the Pacific Northwest as he recently signed with the University of Washington.

“Once I got there, the vibe was nothing like I never felt before,” Roldan said of his decision to choose Washington. “I just felt at home once I visited the campus and played with the guys. The offer was great. The coaching staff is the best out there. The city of Seattle is a soccer city.”

Perhaps Roldan’s greatest highlight of the season came in El Rancho’s 3-2 overtime triumph over Century in the semifinals of the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs. Roldan scored all three goals with his third coming in sudden-death overtime.

Roldan also scored a goal in the Dons’ 7-0 victory over Ontario in the semifinals of the CIF-State Division I Southern California Regionals.

“Overall, it was a successful season,” said Roldan, a four-year varsity player. “We made history at our school. It’s just remarkable and I will never forget that.”

Coach of the Year: DOMINIC PICON, El Rancho

Picon guided the Dons to a history-making season as they captured their first CIF-State Division I Southern California Regional championship, which came after they earned the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 title.

El Rancho, which finished the season with a 29-2-1 overall record and the Del Rio League championship, took home the regional crown by defeating top-seeded San Clemente 3-0. The victory also marked sweet payback for the Dons, who fell to San Clemente 2-0 in the first round of the 2011 regional tournament.

For his efforts, Picon was named the Daily News Boys Soccer Coach of the Year. He also won the award last year.

Picon, who also was named the All-CIF Division 3 coach of the year, also coached the Dons to their second CIF-SS divisional title in three years. El Rancho won the Division 3 crown by defeating Channel Islands 3-2.

Read more:  2013 All-Area Boys Soccer Team: El Rancho’s Cristian Roldan leads Whittier Daily News picks 

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High School Softball: Oilers take control of Almont League race

Montebello’s Evelyn Hernandez, right, tags out Schurr’s Breanna Bolanos at third base in Thursday’s Almont League game. (Keith Durflinger / Staff Photographer)

Photo gallery: Montebello-Schurr softball

By Eric Terrazas, Staff Writer

MONTEBELLO – After sharing the Almont League softball crown last year, both Montebello and Schurr are seeking to reach the top once again this season.

And with both teams entering Thursday’s game with 3-0 league records, the season’s first meeting between the crosstown rivals could go a long way in determining the Almont race.

The host Oilers, led by a balanced 13-hit attack, took the upper hand by defeating Schurr 10-8 in a game that featured four lead changes.

Senior first baseman-outfielder Stephanie Quintero helped Montebello’s attack with three hits, including a triple, and three RBIs. Quintero was one of five Oilers who had a multi-hit effort.

Montebello (9-10 overall, 4-0 in league) grabbed sole possession of first place in league.

“It’s always intense,” Oilers coach Laurie Capps said of her team’s meetings against the Spartans. “It’s kind of like USC and UCLA – it doesn’t matter who is having a good year or a bad year. It’s always intense. And since we both came in with equal records, it made it even more fun and intense.

“Everybody contributed. It was a total team effort and it’s a good win.”

Senior shortstop Emily Sanchez was the offensive leader for the Spartans (6-12, 3-1), who had 15 hits. Sanchez had four hits and drove in four runs.

“We’re not finished with the first round of league play,” Schurr coach Jackie Montanez said. “It’s just another game in our league season. Both teams came ready to hit. The girls put up a fight and came out in the losing end – that’s just the nature of the game. There are things we need to work on. We’re going to take one game at a time to get better in league.”

Montebello scored the decisive runs in the bottom of the sixth. Back-to-back base hits by junior first baseman Alyssa Soneff and junior shortstop Andrea Rocha set things up for Quintero, who gave the Oilers the lead for good when she delivered a run-scoring single to center.

Rocha came home and closed the game’s scoring when senior outfielder Andrea Pena reached on a fielder’s choice.

Schurr tied it at 8-8 in the top of the sixth, which featured Sanchez’s two-run single to right that scored Karen Roman and Alexis Lazaro.

After the Oilers took a 1-0 lead in the first, the Spartans responded by scoring three runs in the second. The Spartans produced five consecutive base hits, which included run-scoring singles by Stephanie Guido, Lazaro and Sanchez.

Montebello quickly regained the lead, 5-3, after three innings. The Oilers scored twice in both the second and third. Brianna Alvarez’s run-scoring single and Evelyn Hernandez’s RBI groundout tied the score 3-3.

Quintero then gave the Oilers the lead when she blasted a two-run triple during the third.

eric.terrazas@sgvn.com
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High School Softball: One turns out to be enough for El Rancho

By John Sherrard, Correspondent

PICO RIVERA – Runs were at a premium in Thursday’s Del Rio League softball game between El Rancho and Santa Fe high schools.

Only one run was scored as both pitchers took different paths for the final result.

Santa Fe senior right-hander Brittany Gonzalez allowed one hit in a 1-0 loss at El Rancho while sophomore Jackie De Loza (six strikeouts) allowed base runners in every inning but the seventh for the victory.

El Rancho, the Daily News fifth-ranked team, improved to 9-7 overall and 3-1 in league. Santa Fe fell to 5-6 and 1-3.

“It was an amazing game with my pitcher Jackie,” El Rancho coach A.J. Reyes said. “She worked, hit her spots, she was unbelievable (Thursday).

“Their pitcher (Gonzalez) did a great job keeping us off-balance.”

The Dons, who remained a game behind league-leading La Serna, won it in the bottom of the seventh when pinch-runner Jazmine Sanchez scored after a grounder to short by freshman Janessa Lozano, who had the Dons’ only hit.

Sanchez, who was injured on the play when she slid under the tag by the Santa Fe catcher, was carried off the field by Reyes.

Dons junior catcher Aiyana Leal-Robles opened the inning with a grounder to Santa Fe third baseman Alexxis Ponce, who bobbled the ball and threw wide to first to allow the runner to advance to second.

Ponce then just missed a short pop-up by shortstop Destiny Cervantes in foul territory. Cervantes then sacrificed Sanchez to third to set up the winning run.

“Like my coach said, `Who is going to jump on that grenade?’ And I felt I should jump on it and help my team out for that winning run,” Sanchez said.

The Chiefs loaded the bases in the sixth inning with one out.

Junior right fielder Jillian Saiza (1 for 2) opened the inning with a walk, followed by a throwing error that allowed both runners to advance to second and third.

After an intentional walk to sophomore centerfielder Myranda Bueno (1 for 1, two stolen bases), De Loza struck out pinch hitter Carly Gutierrez and Ponce flied out.

“My main goal was just to hit my spots as much as I could and execute in the situation that I was in,” said De Loza, who improved to 4-3.

“She pitched a great game (Thursday),” Santa Fe coach Randi Berg said. “It’s just a tough loss and hard to explain. We just didn’t take advantage of our opportunities with runners in scoring position.”

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