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Season Preview: Deep PCC Baseball Squad Ready For Action

Season Preview: Deep PCC Baseball Squad Ready For Action image

Pasadena City College head baseball coach Evan O'Meara calls his 2011 Lancers "the deepest team we've fielded here in my seven seasons." PCC opens the season Thursday, Feb. 3 when it hosts Antelope Valley College in a 2 p.m. game at Brookside Park's Jackie Robinson Memorial Field.

The Lancers enter the season with 34 players on the roster, the most O'Meara has ever allowed to carry going into a new campaign. 

"We had 90 players try out for the team," he said. "We were able to whittle it down to the cream of that crop. We don't have as many sophomores returning as we've had in previous seasons, but we have more pitchers, more infielders, more catchers, and more outfielders than we've ever had. I feel confident that we can go two or even three deep at several starting positions, bringing in guys off the bench that might have started in other seasons here."

Of the Lancers that are returning, one is All-South Coast Conference honorable mention in Jose Serna, a catcher-first baseman, who led the Lancers in batting in 2010 with a .372 average. Centerfielder Kyle Wilkinson (.312 average) and leftfielder Vincent Pantaleo (12 RBI, team-high 13 walks) are also returning starters. Rightfielder Ahmed Razi, an infielder last season, rejoins PCC after hitting .304 with two home runs last year.

The large freshmen crop is led by converted first baseman-designated hitter Adan Carbajal (Franklin High) and 6-foot-1, 210-pound third baseman Andrew Newman

"Carbajal is learning to play defense, but he really can smack the baseball," O'Meara said. "Newman is a lefty batter with real promise as a hitter." 

Other players expected to make an impact are catcher Jason Clark (Duarte High), sophomore second baseman Alex Acevedo, first baseman Matt Chavez (All-Alpha League selection from Maranatha High), and shortstop Sterling Jones, who took several years off of baseball to become a valedictorian and two-degree graduate at Sonoma State University after playing as a freshman on the 2005 Lancers. Jones was a .330 hitter on that squad. 

PCC's pitching staff is paced by 6-foot-4, 190-pound Brett Smith, a righthander from Blair High. He is the younger brother of recently graduated Lancers catcher Brian Smith, who earned a scholarship at Georgetown College in Kentucky. Kaleb Carter-Allen, a transfer sophomore from Allan Hancock College, is expected to receive many innings.

"Brett is a hard thrower, but has command of his breaking pitches," O'Meara said. "Both he and Kaleb can throw consistently in the upper 80s."

The coach also cited David Whitaker (Crescenta Valley HS), Cory Burgard (Verdugo Hills) and Kevin Gute (San Marino) as other key pitchers on a large staff of 13 to 15 hurlers.

PCC's letterman group includes shortstop Mike Vasquez, the team's starter last year, who could become eligible by March. 

The Lancers will play a 35-game schedule with a new wrinkle in the 21-game, South Coast Conference season. This year, the coaches voted to play three-game series with each opponent. Last year, the conference teams played one game v. each opponent in a first round, then a two-game series with each squad in a second round. 

"The nice thing about conference is you can't set up your pitching staffs the way you could in the old system," O'Meara said. "Now, your third best starter will get seen by every team. A team with two top studs won't have the upper hand on the other teams the way it was possible in previous seasons. Everyone will be in the same boat."

[Photo--Jose Serna is back to swing the stick for PCC baseball in 2011, image by Richard Quinton.]

Release Date: 02/02/11
Robert Lewis, Sports Information
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