05/12/2015 8:00 AM
Ten Things to Know about Sweets Baseball
May 12, 2015: Season 6, Volume 13
1. As the school year winds down, it's go big or go home for baseball teams like DeSales, who faced off with the Davenport Gorillas last week in a win-or-go-home contest, but Irish ace Cam Richman never let the Gorillas get in rhythm, allowing just two hits and striking out 15 in seven innings for the reigning Class 2B champs, who rolled to a 9-1 victory. The win earned the Portland commit more praise from head coach Kim Cox, saying Richman gives his team "a good chance [to win] against anybody." The Irish fell to Asotin in District seeding play and will face Yakima on May 23 as the road to defend their state title begins.
2. Future UCLA Bruin Kyle Molnar has to feel good going into the final week of his last regular season at Aliso Niguel. The right-hander was nothing short of outstanding against Laguna Hills, striking out fourteen hitters in six scoreless innings en route to a 4-0 win. Molnar has allowed just two earned runs on 13 hits in his last 19 frames, striking out 30 batters in that time. The Wolverines need two wins over Capistrano Valley - or a win and a Dana Hills loss - to win the South Coast League title in their first season in Division 1.
3. For some reason, batters still think they can get hits off Grace Brethren's Easton Lucas. The Pepperdine-bound southpaw tossed his third no-hitter of the season last Tuesday against Nordhoff, denied the perfect game by a single walk and striking out eight. Lucas has allowed just nine hits in 48 innings so far this season, with five of those coming in his only loss of the year against St. Bonaventure on April 22. The Lancers are done with their league schedule - secure in second place - and look good to return to the Southern Section Division 4 tournament for the first time since 2011.
4. It's tournament time in the junior college ranks as well, and San Mateo's Sam Hellinger kept his form rolling against Santa Rosa in the California Community College Baseball Playoffs, going 7.2 strong and giving up four runs with no walks and three strikeouts in a 5-4 Bulldogs win to open their best-of-three series against the Bear Cubs. The Bulldogs won game two 4-1 and will face the top JUCO team in Northern California - San Joaquin Delta - in a best-of-three set to determine who will advance to the state championship series.
5. Bishop Alemany center fielder Alex McKenna cooled off considerably in April. After hitting .487 through his team's first 13 games, the Cal Poly commit hit .307 in nine games in April, including a stretch where he was just 3-for-18. That appaears to have been an aberration, as McKenna came up with a pair of strong games against Harvard-Westlake this weekend, going 4-for-6 with four RBIs, including a pair of home runs as the Warriors split with the Wolverines to keep Alemany ahead of Harvard-Westlake in the Mission League standings. McKenna is now nine of his last 18 with six RBIs in seven games.
6. We frequently give no shortage of love to the performance of UC Irvine's Mikey Duarte, who continues to dominate with multiple hits in four straight games and an eight-game streak overall, but there's another Sweets alumnus on a roll for the Anteaters: center fielder Kris Paulino. The senior, who played for the Sweets in 2012 and 2013, went 2-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored on Sunday in a rubber match win over Cal Poly, and he has offered teams quite a few headaches of his own. Paulino has hits in 13 of his last 14 games and a seven-game hitting streak. He's hitting .384 with five doubles, a home run, and six RBIs since that run began, and the 'Eaters are 8-2 in their last ten games while sitting atop the Big West with six league games to play.
7. Pepperdine lost its chance at the WCC regular season title over the weekend when they dropped two of three to league-leading San Diego, but got Nick Costello back in the mix. The redshirt freshman featured in both games of the Waves' Saturday doubleheader with the Toreros, going 4-for-8 with a walk and an RBI. Costello is one of only two bats for the Waves with an average at or above .300 this season, and he'll look to keep his promising freshman campaign going against Sean-Luke Brija and Gonzaga. The Waves need to take two out of three from the Bulldogs to avoid a scenario where they might miss the WCC tournament, while the Zags have to win all three games in Malibu and get some help to have a shot.
8. In what could well be his final start of the season, Cal Poly freshman Jarred Zill saved his best for last, throwing six strong innings, allowing one run on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts, and getting the decision in a 5-1 Mustangs win over San Jose State. The outing marks the first start this year in which Zill has not walked batter, and he combined with fellow freshman Michael Gomez and Sweets alum Danny Zandona to strike out ten Spartans on the night. Just six games remain for the Mustangs with no more midweek tilts for Zill to start, but he'll be available to pitch any time as Poly hangs on to slim Big West title hopes.
9. VMI's David Geary continues to give Southern Conference pitchers fits as he tries to lift his team to safety in the SoCon tournament picture. Geary had a hitting streak snapped at seven games Friday night against UNC-Greensboro, but reached on a pair of walks and scored both times in an 11-3 Keydets win, then opened the scoring with a two-run homer in the first inning the next day as part of an 8-2 victory over the Spartans. He reached with a hit and a walk on Sunday but couldn't come up with any runs as his team fell 13-11 in ten innings. VMI sits seventh of nine teams in the SoCon and needs just one more win to avoid a play-in game in Charleston when the tournament starts next week.
10. This week rounds out with a local player making an impact far afield. Remember Moe Handcox, one of only two Sweets to hit multiple homers in one game in 2014? The former Wa-Hi Blue Devil and Walla Walla Warrior found more strong form down the stretch for the Briar Cliff Chargers (Sioux City, IA). The team's' starting left fielder cranked two homers in a span of six trips to the plate in the Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament in Sioux City last week to keep his team's title hopes alive. The Chargers ultimately came up short in the tournament, but won the regular season title and earned a spot in the NAIA regionals, putting them one step closer to their first NAIA World Series appearance since 2005. Handcox has been hot down the home stretch, hitting .324/.413/.541 with ten RBIs and grabbing honorable mention All-GPAC honors along the way. In his junior year with the Chargers, Handcox hit .294/.349/.408 with ten doubles, three home runs, 28 RBIs and a team-best 47 runs scored.
The Sweets take on the Medford Rogues to at Borleske Stadium to start their 2015 season. Opening Night Presented by Edward Jones is 24 days away! Get tickets online, downtown at 109 E Main Street, or by calling 509-522-BALL.