Damien’s Cody Rawson commits to San Diego State

Damien senior baseball standout Cody Rawson made a verbal commitment to San Diego State today

Rawson, a catcher, visited the school on earlier this week. He also took trips to Pepperdine and UC Santa Barbara before deciding to head South for college.

He has a cousin that graduated from the school and he knows a couple of players on the team who are from the Inland Valley. He also has family nearby.

“I like the feel that I got walking around campus,” he said,. “You could tell there was a lot of pride in being an Aztec. It’s close to home. Who wouldn’t want top stay in Southern California? I liked everything about it.”

Rawson, who hit .288, said he decided to get the decision out of the way now so he could focus on having a successful senior season and getting the Spartans back to the playoffs.

He plans to major in business/finance but hopes to pursue a career in firefighting when baseball is over.

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Damien baseball standout Andy Garriola selects a college

Damien baseball standout Andrew Garriola has made a verbal commitment to Old Dominion located in Norfolk, Va.

Garriola, who will be a senior in the fall, was limited to 15 games last season after sustaining a broken hand while sliding into second on a stolen base attempt. He had 12 RBIs, seven runs scored, four doubles, two triples and a home run.

He went to Old Dominion on an unofficial visit earlier this month. The school had been looking at him since early his sophomore year on the recommendation of pitching coach Chris Beck. The school saw him play in a travel ball game in Georgia and had been interested ever since.

Garriola, a g-foot-4 first baseman, is looking forward to the change of scenery.

“I think it will be nice to live someplace else,” he said. “The campus is nice and its right on the beach.”

The team has a good first baseman coming back but Garriola is hoping to land playing time as a designated hitter or at a corner outfield spot as a freshman.

Garriola also took an unofficial visit to Ole Miss and was planning to go to West Virginia as well but the latter got canceled.

He is undecided on a major but considering business.

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Damien graduate Cody Ponce earns weekly minor league honor

Former Cal Poly Pomona pitcher Cody Ponce got a late start to the season due to some “forearm fatigue.” But Ponce, also a product of Damien High School, has rebounded quite nicely and is having a stellar season.

Ponce, the Brewers’ No. 8 prospect, tossed a pair of scoreless outings last week, lasting 11 innings in total, while striking out 17 and walking none for Class A Advanced Brevard County to capture the Florida State League Pitcher of the Week award.

The award is Ponce’s first as a pro since he was taken in the second round of the 2015 Draft out of Cal Poly Pomona.

“I think it came down to whatever was working that day,” Ponce said. “But really in that sense, it was all [catcher Dustin Houle]. I don’t think I shook him maybe more than once or twice. He was just great behind the dish for two great games. I have to give it up to him. And then I had some great guys behind me making all the plays. I couldn’t have done this without them.”

Ponce’s first gem of the week came last Monday when he fanned five batters and allowed only two hits over five scoreless innings against Dunedin in what had been his longest start of the season up to that point. He one-upped himself five days later by lasting six frames, while fanning a career-high 12 and scattering only three hits. His 17 strikeouts were tied for third-most in the minors for the week of July 4-10 and were more than his dozen strikeouts over his five starts (14 innings) combined.

As impressive as the strikeout numbers were last week, the 6-foot-6 right-hander was happier with his zero in the walks column.

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Damien pitcher Matt Amrhein commits to Cal Baptist

Damien High School pitcher Matt Amrhein has committed to NCAA Division II Cal Baptist.

He was the solid No. 2 pitcher for the Spartans behind senior left-hander Nick Lodolo and helped give Damien a formidable 1-2 punch on the mound. He was 6-1 in Baseline League play, helping the Spartans to their first league title since 2004.

He was also considering Cal State Monterey Bay and Colorado at Colorado Springs, both also Division II schools.

He liked the offerings at Cal Baptist and the fact that is was close to home. He also visited Monterey Bay.

“It really felt like home there and I like that my family will be able to come see me play,” said Amrhein, a 6-foot right-hander.

He is the latest local player to join the Riverside-based college. Teammate Harrison Spohn has committed to the school, although he is just a junior. Rancho Cucamonga’s Logan Rinehart has also signed there.

Amrhein was a first team All-Baseline League and second-team All-Inland Valley selection. He was also a second team pick in football, excelling as kicker.




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Damien’s Nick Lodolo taken in draft by Pittsburgh Pirates

Damien starting pitcher Nick Lodolo (10) fires to the plate against Rancho Cucamonga in a varsity baseball game at Damien High School in La Verne, CA on Friday, April 15, 2016. Damien defeated Rancho Cucamonga, 4-0. (Photo by Rachel Luna/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

Damien High School left-handed pitcher was the first local player taken in the major league baseball free agent draft when he was picked by the Pittsburgh Pirates as the 41st overall pick (Lottery round A after first round).

Lodolo went 8-2 with a 1.97 earned run average and 83 strikeouts in 65 innings, helping the Spartans to the Baseline League title and a berth in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 semifinals.

Lodolo has signed earlier with Texas Christian University but now will face the tough decision on whether to go to school or go professional.

He had indicated all along that he preferred school and was asking for a lot of money and thought that would discourage teams from taking him in the high rounds. That wasn’t the case.

He had talked to several teams recently but the Pirates were not one of them.

“I still have yet to talk to him and neither has my advisor,” Lodolo said, “It’s just been a long, strange day. I thought they knew I would be a tough sign.”

Lodolo said he watched the early picks on line, but then left to go to a his girlfriend’s graduation, never thinking his name would be called. It wasn’t long before he knew something was up.

“My phone just blew up, people calling and texting congratulations,” he said.

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Damien baseball player Isaiah Paige commits to Michigan

Damien High School junior baseball standout Isaiah Paige grew up a big fan of the University of Michigan. It didn’t matter what sport, he rooted for the  Wolverines.

Now he has a chance to represent that school.

Paige, a pitcher and outfielder, made a verbal commitment to that school after a visit over the weekend.

“I always like that school,” he said. “I’m really happy to have the opportunity to play there.”

Paige also visited UCLA, UC Irvine. Loyola Marymount, University of San Diego and University of the Pacific.

The decision came down to Michigan and UC Irvine.

Weather was not an issue. In fact Paige says he won’t mind the cold weather.

“I actually prefer that to the heat,” he said. “I like it a lot better.”

Paige’s sister Madison, an All-Inland Valley selection in softball, has committed to Minnesota-Moorehead. So their parents will be hitting the road a lot.

Paige plans to major in sports management.


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Damien’s Grant Woodward headed to Cuesta

Senior first baseman Grant Woodward of Damien will play next year at Cuesta Community College in San Luis Obispo.

Woodward helped propel the Spartans into a playoff berth. The team started 3-11 but rallied late and finished third in the tough Baseline League.

Woodward was also considering Division II schools in Cal Baptist, Azusa Pacific and Concordia-Irvine but those proved costly. He was also considering Chaffey but wanted to get out of the area.

“My dad knows the coach there and I went up fora visit and really liked it,” he said. “It’s a good chance to go there and play right away and then see what my options are after that.”

Woodward, a second-team All-Baseline League selection, plans to major in criminal justice.

Cuesta went 21-18 last season and finished third in the Western States North Conference at 15-9. It made the playoffs but lost a best-of-three first round series to Golden West.

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Damien baseball team rallies from poor start to get playoff spot

Damien takes on Chino Hills earlier this year.

Things weren’t looking good for the Damien baseball team early in the season. The Spartans lost 11 of their first 14 games and had three top line pitchers derailed by season-ending injuries.

But first-year head coach Andy Nieto rallied his troop. At the end of the season the Spartans (10-14, 8-7) found themselves still in the hunt for a playoff berth, something they secured with a doubleheader sweep of Rancho Cucamonga earlier in the week.

“You really have to keep playing,” Nieto said, of his team’s early obstacles. “I told them this will represent who they are. It’s part of our code and what we stress here. You fight to the end.”

The final drama played out on Wednesday with the six Baseline League teams involved in three doubleheaders. Damien had the best of the draw because it was facing last-place Rancho Cucamonga. That doubleheader finished ahead of the other two so the Spartans fate wasn’t completely determined until later in the day.

Nieto insists he was not focused on the finishes of the other games, mainly because his team had the head-to-head with four of the five teams in the league. He looked at the last week as pivotal.

“We looked at the last four games like it was a double elimination tournament and we ended up winning three of those four,” he said.

Nieto credited junior pitcher Nick Lodolo who has three straight complete games and a streak of 20 straight shutout innings. Among the other pitchers stepping up are sophomore Isaiah Paige, senior Joe Kelly and junior Sean Davis.

Among the position players who have stepped up are senior catcher Andrew Garcia, junior outfielder Daniel Benedict and senior first baseman Grant Woodward. Johnathan Olson, one of the injured pitchers who has signed with UCLA, has been playing the outfield.

“He was willing to do whatever we needed to help the team,” Nieto said of Olson. “That goes to show the character of the players and students we have here. “

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Los Osos downs Damien 4-1 in Battle of Baseline opener

Kyle Robenial of Los Osos talks about his outing

VIDEO: Zach Cooper of Los Osos talks about win

Los Osos got another stellar pitching performance from senior Kyle Robeniol and rode that to a 4-1 win over Damien Saturday morning in the first game of the Battle of the Baseline at LoanMart Field.

Robeniol, a University of Oregon commit, went the distance allowing just two hits and striking out seven.

He had a shutout until the seventh when Damien got its lone run.

“We feel good any time he’s out there. We know he’s going to give us a chance to win,” Los Osos coach Chris Romero said. “He did what we needed him to do today because we needed this game.”

The Grizzlies (10-13, 7-6) collected six hits. Zach Cooper had a pair of run-scoring singles, the first pushing home the first run of the game. His other one came in the seventh and rounded out the scoring.

Davis Moore had a two-run single in the seventh for his teams third and fourth runs.

Damien (8-14, 6-7) managed just two hits. It’s lone run came in the seventh when Andrew Garcia doubled and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Grant Woodward.

The Spartans got off to a 3-11 start after three key injuries to the pitching staff. They had won five of their last seven coming in to put themselves in contention for a playoff berth.

“We still feel good about where we’re at,” first-year coach Andy Nieto said. “We control our destiny. Out guys didn’t get down when everything was working against us early. They kept battling.”

VIDEO: Damien coach Andy Nieto talks about loss to Los Osos

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