About Steve Ramirez

Steve Ramirez has covered prep sports for San Gabriel Valley Newspapers since 1989.

Baseball: Montebello , Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary advance to semifinals; Cal, La Mirada, Santa Fe, El Rancho ousted


CIF-SS BASEBALL PLAYOFFS
QUARTERFINALS
DIVISION 4
MONTEBELLO 4, EL RANCHO 2

MONTEBELLO >> Edgar Velasquez did it all for the Montebello High School baseball team Friday.The senior pitcher knocked in the go-ahead run in the sixth, then put out a rally in the seventh to send the Oilers to their first CIF Southern Section semifinal game in more than three decades with a 4-2 victory over visiting El Rancho in a Division 4 quarterfinal.
Velasquez and Noah Fuerte each had two RBIs for the Oilers, who improved to 21-11 and will host No. 2 seed Kaiser, a 3-2, winner over Santa Fe, in Tuesday’s semifinals at 3:15 p.m. Jose Guerrero and Vince Fuentes had two hits each for the Dons, who finished 17-15.
El Rancho, which had advanced with an upset over No. 3 seed West Torrance in the first round and beat Apple Valley in the second, had a chance to tie it in the seventh after loading the bases with one out. But Velasquez, who gave up eight hits and struck out two, induced Bobby Banuelos to ground into a 6-3 double play to end the game.
Velasquez gave the Oilers a 3-2 lead in the sixth when he followed a one-out double by Andres Munoz with an RBI double to left field for the one-run lead. Fuerte then hit the third double of the inning to push it to 4-2.
Montebello coach Manny Arana: “We knew it was going to be a tough ball game. Everyone who showed up got their money’s worth. It’s just exciting for us to move on. Somebody had to win, and fortunately, we found a way to pull through at the end, even though it was a little more exciting than I wanted it to be.”
El Rancho coach Frank Llanes: “We had our chance. We had bases loaded. Unfortunately, we got on top of a ball (and hit into a double play). Today, both teams didn’t lose, but one of them (Montebello) won.”
Montebello’s Edgar Velasquez: “It feels great. It was tough at the end, but we got through it. I knew if I don’t do it (in the seventh), it messes up the game. (It happened against Schurr), and I didn’t want that to happen (again). I focused and threw what I needed to throw.”
— Stephen Ramirez
DIVISION 2
Redlands East Valley 15, La Mirada 7

REDLANDS >> After the Redlands East Valley baseball team knocked off No. 2 seed Gahr on Tuesday, head coach James Cordes walked off the field with a hint of worry over his offense, an offense that was averaging 1.8 runs over its last four games.
But on Friday that worry seemed like a distant memory as an offensive dam broke open for Redlands East Valley in a 15-7 win over La Mirada High, advancing to the CIF-SS Division 2 semifinals for the first time since 2009.
The Wildcats (22-7) racked up 16 hits and scored at least four runs in three separate innings, including six in the fourth to take a seven-run lead. La Mirada had eight hits, committing just one error.
La Mirada coach Jimmy Zurn: “They were just a little bit better than us today. We gave up some free bases and (Jakob) has been special all year but they got some hits and were fortunate to have some runners on the base when they did.”
— Chris Trevino
DIVISION 4
Laguna Beach 3, Cal 2, 12 innings

WHITTIER ­>> Taking care of the small things has become a way of life for the Laguna Beach High baseball team.The 12th ­inning of Friday’s CIF­-SS Division 4 quarterfinal game against California was just another example.Alex Baker led off the inning with a walk. He was sacrificed to second by Jack Loechner. Baker then moved to third on a groundout to short by Connor Coscino.
Jack Simon followed with a groundball to second that should have ended the inning, but the ball got by the second baseman, allowing Baker to score what proved to be the winning run, giving the Breakers (18­-12) a 3­-2 road victory in 12 innings over California (20-­10) at Rio Hondo College.
Cal coach Tony Nieto: “(Josh Lambert’s) our closer and he was up to his 70 pitches. We stretched him out. He actually had one inning left, we were going to take him out two innings before, but he wanted to keep going out there. The way the game was going, I figured we might as well use up all of his innings.”
— Damien Calhoun
Kaiser 3, Santa Fe 2, 8 innings
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A dramatic throw to the plate by Fontana Kaiser right fielder Justin Wells cut off the potential tying run at the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning, helping the Cats hold on for a 3-2 victory over Santa Fe in the CIF Southern Section Division 4 quarterfinals Friday.
Kaiser junior left-hander Armando Duenas outdueled Santa Fe’s Robert Luci. Duenas, who brought a 9-0 record into the game, praised Wells’ searing throw to catcher Leonardo Rodriguez afterward.
Chiefs coach Pierre Romo argued that Rodriguez blocked the plate, and that baserunner Alex Martinez should have been ruled safe, but Rodriguez disagreed.
— Obrey Brown
DIVISION 5
Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary 7, Paraclete 5 innings

The Cardinals scored three runs in the seventh for a 5-3 lead, then two in the eighth to win it and advance to the semifinals.
They will host Citrus Hill, which beat No. 3 seed Village Christian, in Tuesday’s semifinals.
TUESDAY’S SEMFINALS
DIVISION 4

Kaiser at Montebello
DIVISION 5
Citrus Hill at Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary

Both games begin at 3:15 p.m.

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CIF-SS Softball Playoffs: La Habra advances to Division 2 semifinals

La Habra's Kira Cauley (5) is congratulated after stealing second and third bases in the same play as they play Rio Mesa in their CIF girls softball playoff game at La Habra High School in La Habra on Thursday May 26, 2016. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News)

La Habra’s Kira Cauley (5) is congratulated after stealing second and third bases in the same play as they play Rio Mesa in their CIF girls softball playoff game at La Habra High School in La Habra on Thursday May 26, 2016. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News)


LA HABRA >> For the third time in the last five years the La Habra High School girls softball team is headed back to the CIF-Southern Section semifinals, but not without a late charge by visiting Rio Mesa, of Oxnard.Top seeded La Habra, which won its 26th consecutive game, defeated Rio Mesa, 4-2, in a Division 2 quarterfinal game Thursday afternoon.

La Habra, ranked fourth in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and 17th in the nation by Max Preps, will travel to Valley View, of Moreno Valley, for Tuesday’s semifinals. Fourth-seeded Valley View (26-1) defeated South Hills, 1-0, in nine innings.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this (26-game win streak),” first-year coach Steve Harrington said. “It’s been a nice journey. I don’t even know how many it is we’ve won in a row.”
The Highlanders (29-1) led, 4-2, in the top of the seventh inning, but Rio Mesa (15-11) missed an opportunity to tie the game as they left runners on second and third.
Highlanders’ pitcher Hannah Johnson started the game by striking out seven consecutive batters before allowing a sharp single in the third inning. The junior would allow only two more hits in her five innings of work and picked up the win.
— John Sherrard

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CIF-SS Baseball Playoffs: Area’s sensational six look to punch their tickets to semifinals

El Rancho, helped by Andrew Alvarez, faces Montebello Friday for a spot in the CIF-SS semifinals. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News)

El Rancho, helped by Andrew Alvarez, faces Montebello Friday for a spot in the CIF-SS semifinals. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News)


By Stephen Ramirez
The baseball programs of El Rancho and Montebello high schools are no stranger to each other, which makes their meeting in Friday’s CIF Southern Section Division quarterfinal even more interesting.The two former rivals of the old Whitmont League meet for a spot in the semifinals at 3:15 p.m. at Montebello High.“It’s a great for the area,” El Rancho coach Frank Llanes said. “Montebello and us go back … way back to the Whitmont League, back to the 50s and 60s. It’s great to play a quarterfinal game against them, because its so big for this area.”
It should be a battle.
El Rancho (17-14) finished third in the Del Rio League, but has been hot of late, winning four consecutive games, including upsetting No. 3 seed West Torrance (4-1) in the first round and beating Apple Valley (6-4) in the second round.
The Dons are led by senior Jose Guerrero, who is hitting .367 and 14 RBIs, and Bobby Banuelos, who is hitting .307 with 12 RBIs.
Montebello (20-11), which won the Almont League for the second consecutive season, counters with sophomore Jose Macias, who is hitting .562 with 21 RBIs, and Edgar Velazquez, who is hitting .370 with 15 RBIs.
The Oilers advanced with wins over Santa Ana Calvary Chapel (10-1) and Century (8-1).
Here’s a brief look at the rest of the area quarterfinals. All games begin at 3:15 p.m.:
DIVISION 2
La Mirada at Redlands East Valley >> The Matadores (23-7) are seeking their second trip to the semifinals during the past three seasons.
La Mirada has won 13 of its last 14, including a 7-1 win at Rancho Cucamonga in Tuesday’s second round.
The Matadores will give Jakob Gonzalez the ball today. The senior is 7-1 and threw five shut-out innings in a 1-0 win over Ayala in the first round. La Mirada also looks to junior shortstop Kevin Kendall, who is hitting .452 with 29 RBIs, and Daniel Jung, who is hitting .366 with 27 RBIs.
Redlands East Valley (21-7) advanced with a 1-0 victory over No. 2 seed Gahr in the second round.
DIVISION 4
Laguna Beach vs. Cal >> The Condors (20-9) are seeking their third consecutive trip to the semifinals.
Cal has won nine of its last 10 and has done it with pitching, yielding a run or less in five out its past six games, including a 4-1 win over Fullerton in the second round.
Senior Jakob Johnston, who is 7-1 with a 1.50 ERA, is expected to get the call today. The Condors also look to senior catcher Eric Sotelo, who is hitting .267 with 13 RBIs, and senior Jake Carmichael, who is hitting .365 and scored 16 runs.
Laguna Beach (17-12) advanced with a 4-0 win over Patriot in the second round.
Kaiser at Santa Fe >> The Chiefs (18-13) are looking to continue their best season in more than 20 years. But it will be a top challenge to oust the No. 2 seed Cats (25-3).
Santa Fe, which shared the Del Rio League title with Cal for its first title in 22 years, looks to senior Robert Lucia, who is 8-2 with a 1.11 ERA. He threw a no-hitter in a 5-0 win over Grace Brethren in the first round. The Chiefs, who beat Rialto (3-0) in the second round, also look to Zach Penticoff, who is hitting .353 with 17 RBIs, and Luis Aguilar, who is hitting .361 with 14 RBIs.
Kaiser advanced with a 13-1 win over Ramona in the second round.
DIVISION 5
Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary at Paraclete >> The Cardinals (26-4) have a tall order in the No. 2 Spirits (22-4), who advanced with wins over Rubidoux (13-0) and Lompoc Cabrillo (3-0).
CSHM, which has playoff wins over Ontario Christian (4-1) and Garey (6-0), are led by Jared Thomas, who is hitting .434 with 24 RBIs, and Andrew Quillen, who is hitting .370 with 20 RBIs.

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CIF-SS Playoffs: El Rancho’s advances to baseball quarters and is joined by five others; La Habra softball advances; Montebello softball ousted

El Rancho pitcher Vince Fuentes is congratulated by teammates after getting the win over Apple Valley in their CIF playoff game at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera onTuesday May 24, 2016. El Rancho defeated Apple Valley 6-4. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News)

El Rancho pitcher Vince Fuentes is congratulated by teammates after getting the win over Apple Valley in their CIF playoff game at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera onTuesday May 24, 2016. El Rancho defeated Apple Valley 6-4. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News)

If last Thursday was a Thursday massacre when all but two area softball teams advanced to the second round of the CIF-SS playoffs, then Tuesday was payback for the area, which had all six of its remaining baseball team advance to quarterfinals, led by El Rancho beating Apple Valley, 6-4, in Division 4. La Mirada in Division 2; D4 entries Cal, Santa Fe and Montebello and Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary in Division 5 all won to advance La Habra, ranked No. 4 in the state this week, routed Redlands East Valley, 8-4, to advance to the softball quarterfinals in Division 2. The only area team ousted was Montebello, which lost to Silverado in Division 5.

CIF-SS PLAYOFFS
BASEBALL
DIVISION 4
EL RANCHO 6, APPLE VALLEY 4

PICO RIVERA — Vince Fuentes set a El Rancho High School school record for career wins Tuesday, but he was more excited about the team accomplishment – a win to earn a trip to the CIF Southern Section quarterfinals.Fuentes scattered nine hits to score his 21st career victory and the host Dons advanced to the Division 4 final eight with a 6-4 win over Apple Valley in a second-round game.
Fuentes, who moved past Chris Villalobos (2008) on the school’s all-time list, also had two hits to lead El Rancho, which won its fourth consecutive game to improve to 17-14. The Dons will visit Montebello, an 8-1 winner over Century, in Friday’s quarterfinals. Apple Valley finished 13-11.
El Rancho, which upset No. 3 seed West Torrance in the first round, continued to show its confidence by overcoming an early deficit to score four runs in the second to lead 4-2 before getting two in the third for a 6-2 advantage.
The Dons, after the Sun Devils went up 2-0 in the top of the second on consecutive doubles by Tanner Fuller and Joseph Vera, loaded the bases on consecutive singles by Fuentes, Rick Rizo and Johnny Banuelos before Matt Arellano tied it at 2 with a two-run double.
Jason Vela followed with a RBI ground out for a 3-2 lead before Andrew Alvarez singled for the 4-2 advantage.
El Rancho took advantage of two Apple Valley errors to push it to 6-2 in the third, which was highlighted by a RBI single by Banuelos (2 for 3).
The Sun Devils cut it to 6-4, scoring a run on two errors in the fourth and a home run by Ryan Stephens in the seventh. Fuentes, who is 10-4 this season, then sent El Rancho to the quarterfinals by getting the next three batters.
El Rancho’s Vince Fuentes: “Better feeling for me is getting to the quarterfinals. I didn’t win this game on my own. There were some big plays made out there. My third baseman (Andrew Alvarez) made a big play; my second baseman (Jose Guerrero) made a big play. My whole team was hitting and they had my back the whole game. I’d say getting to the quarterfinals is the better feeling.”
El Rancho coach Frank Llanes: “We are a team that doesn’t know how to quit. When someone puts two on us, we’re not going to let them have a shut-down inning. It’s important for us to keep on believing. Our philosophy was to grind out at-bats and work hard. The result was we got a few base hits.”
— Stephen Ramirez
DIVISION 2
LA MIRADA 7, RANCHO CUCAMONGA 1
RANCHO CUCAMONGA >>
Rancho Cucamonga senior pitcher Logan Rinehart is a fastball pitcher and La Mirada is a fastball-hitting team. So something had to give when the teams squared off in a CIF Southern Section Division 2 second-round contest.
It was visiting La Mirada getting the best of the battle and prevailing 7-1 on Tuesday. The Matadors (23-7) advanced to the quarterfinal on Friday against Redlands East Valley, a 1-0 upset winner over second-seeded Gahr.
The Suburban League champion Matadores racked up 14 hits while the Cougars (17-11-1), Baseline League runners-up, managed just three.
The visitors struck early and never looked back, plating three runs in the second on the strength of five hits and a walk. The big blows in the inning were a two-run single by Omar Myzel and a run-scoring single by Matt Hickman.
Hickman had another in the third to put La Mirada up 4-0.
La Mirada coach Jimmy Zurn: “We were able to get in some good hitting counts and we made some good contact. It’s important against a quality pitcher to put yourself in that position and we were able to do that early.”
— Michelle Gardner
SOFTBALL
DIVISOIN 2
LA HABRA 8, REDLANDS EAST VALLEY 4

REDLANDS >> Even a back flare-up was not going to hold back La Habra junior Janelle Rodriguez on Tuesday.Rodriguez hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the second inning and later drove in two more on a single in the fifth to help top-seeded La Habra advance past Redlands East Valley 8-4 in a CIF Southern Section Division 2 second-round game.
La Habra (28-1), ranked 17th in the latest Maxpreps Xcelllent 25 National Softball Rankings, will host Rio Mesa in the quarterfinals on Thursday, a day after five of its seniors graduate.
La Habra coach Steve Harrington: “Janelle is going to find a way to contribute and be successful no matter what she plays.”
— CJ Daft
OTHER SCORES
BASEBALL
DIVISION 4

Montebello 8, Century 1
Cal 4, Fullerton 1
Santa Fe 3, Rialto 0
DIVISION 5
Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary 6, Garey 0
FRIDAY’S QUARTERFINALS
DIVISION 2

La Mirada at Redlands East Valley
DIVISION 4
El Rancho at Montebello
Laguna Beach vs. Cal at TBA
Kaiser at Santa Fe
DIVISION 5
Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary at Paraclete
SOFTBALL
DIVISION 5
Silverado 11, Montebello 6
THURSDAY’S QUARTERFINALS
DIVISION 2

Rio Mesa at La Habra

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Gameday Countdown: Area baseball, softball teams look to advance to the CIF-SS quarterfinals

El Rancho pitcher Vince Fuentes (26) is hugged by catcher Steven Banuelos (44) after their win over Bloomington in their CIF baseball wild card round last week. The Dons host Apple Valley today for a spot in the Division 4 quarterfinals.   (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News)

El Rancho pitcher Vince Fuentes (26) is hugged by catcher Steven Banuelos (44) after their win over Bloomington in their CIF baseball wild card round last week. The Dons host Apple Valley today for a spot in the Division 4 quarterfinals.
(Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News)

How quickly have the fortunes changed for the El Rancho High School baseball team?A lot. Two weeks ago, the Dons were on the cusp of missing the CIF Southern Section playoffs. Now, they are a win away from advancing to the quarterfinals. El Rancho will look to punch its ticket when it hosts Apple Valley on Tuesday in a Division 4 second-round game at 3:15 p.m.
The Dons (16-14), who beat Whittier 4-3 in eight innings on May 6 to earn their spot in the postseason, have advanced with wins over Bloomington and No. 3 seed West Torrance.
El Rancho is led by senior Vince Fuentes, who has a shot to score a school-record 21 career wins with a victory on Tuesday. He also has 12 RBIs and 11 doubles. Apple Valley (13-10) advanced with a 5-4 win at Barstow.
Here’s a brief look at today’s other area playoff games:
BASEBALL
DIVISION 2

La Mirada at Rancho Cucamonga, 3:15 p.m. >> The Matadores (22-7), who won their second Suburban League title in three seasons, advanced with a 1-0 win over Ayala. They are led by junior Kevin Kendall and senior Daniel Jung, who have 28 and 27 RBIs, respectively.
Rancho Cucamonga (17-10-1) advanced with a 6-3 win over Burbank Burroughs.
DIVISION 4
Cal at Fullerton, 3:15 p.m. >> The Condors (19-9) are led by catcher Eric Sotelo and infielder Gilly Rodriguez, who have 13 and 12 RBIs, respectively. Cal advanced with a 5-4 win over Schurr.
Fullerton (15-14) got a forfeit win over Torrance last week.
Santa Fe at Rialto, 3:15 p.m. >> The Chiefs (17-13) advanced with a 5-0 win over Grace Brethren. They are led by pitcher Robert Lucia, who pitched a no-hitter in the first round.
Rialto (20-7) beat Alta Loma in the first round.
Montebello at Century, 3:15 p.m. >> The Oilers (19-11) advanced with a 10-1 win over Santa Ana Calvary Chapel. They are led by sophomore Jose Macias, who is hitting .550 with 15 RBIs.
Century beat Troy in the first round.
DIVISION 5
Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary at Garey, 3:15 p.m. >> The Cardinals (25-4) opened with a 4-0 win over Ontario Christian. They feature freshman Jared Thomas and Andrew Quillen, who have 24 and 20 RBIs, respectively.
Garey advanced with a 4-2 win over San Marino.
SOFTBALL
DIVISION 2

La Habra at Redlands East Valley, 3:15 p.m. >> The Highlanders (26-1) are seeking their first title since 1982. They are led by pitcher Janelle Rodriguez and Kira Cauley, who had a grand slam in a 10-0 win over Arroyo Grande in the first round.
Redlands East Valley (17-6) advanced with a 7-6 win over Canyon Springs.
DIVISION 5
Montebello at Silverado, 3:15 p.m. >> The Oilers (15-12) advanced with a 9-0 win over Westminster La Quinta. Silverado (22-5) beat Moreno Valley (5-4) in the first round.
BOYS VOLLEYBALL
CIF STATE SOCAL REGIONALS
DIVISION III

El Rancho at L.A. Jordan, 7 p.m. >> The Dons (22-6) lost in the CIF-SS Division 5 semifinals last week, They get another shot to continue their season against the Bulldogs (33-3), who won the L.A. City Section Division III title.

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