News: Baseball Opens '14 Campaign
The Pasadena City College baseball team began its 2014 season Monday, one that it hopes to be an improvement from a rocky '13 year that saw the Lancers win just four of 36 games.
While the Lancers lost to Los Angeles Mission College, 12-3, at Mission's El Cariso Park diamond, PCC is looking to build around the return of sophomores Bobby Fraijo, who is taking over the coveted starting shortstop spot, and catcher Jason Clark, who returns from the 2011 team when he was an All-South Coast Conference Second Team selection. As a freshman, Clark batted .333 and knocked in 20 RBI, offensive numbers that far outdistanced any batter from last season.
Fraijo's strong arm, Clark's return behind the dish, and the addition of centerfielder PJ DeZotell (St. Francis High) gives the Lancers a much-improved up the middle combination according to head coach Evan O'Meara.
"Our defense is probably the area that is most improved, especially in the outfield," O'Meara said. "We have a large freshmen group overall, but with DeZotell, Arnaldo Limon, Steven San Miguel (Rosemead HS), and Jimmy Cramer (Burroughs High), it's an athletic, faster outfield. That will only help our pitchers. The infield defense is going to be better as well."
Some of that defense was displayed in the opener, including sliding catches by Limon (Monrovia High) in right field and a diving catch by DeZotell in short center. At the plate, Limon ripped a double in the opening at bat of the season and the two rookies each batted 2-for-3 in their collegiate debuts. Clark had PCC's other basehit and matched Limon and DeZotell with an RBI each.
Offensively, other freshmen expected to produce include first baseman Nick Perez (Eagle Rock), a 6-foot-2, 220-pound slugger, catcher-DH Macrin Gallardo (Sierra Vista High), and Jerry Ponce, a third baseman from Mountain View.
The team's pitching staff is bolstered by the return of knuckleballer Tim Shiba, who threw 3-1/3 innings of 4-hit relief in the opener (two earned runs), and lefty hurler Jeffrey Cortez, who has an imposing 6-5 frame. Shiba pitched a team-high 70 innings last year and led the team with a deceiving 5.14 ERA as he had thrown in the 3s for most of the '13 season before a late-season slump.
Freshmen right-handers Calvin Bonilla (Eagle Rock) and Jason Marquez (Glendale High) along with sophomores Cortez and Brian Cuiriz (2012 Lancers) are considered part of a corps of probable starting pitchers. Shiba will get spot starts, but is expected to be used as a long and short reliever because of his "rubber-arm." In the relief corps, lefty Ryan Reyes (Arleta High) impressed in his PCC debut with two flawless innings. Joseph Magdaleno (Bishop Amat) and sophomore Ryan Ramirez are other potential relievers on the staff.
The team's eight lettermen also include right-handed pitcher Robert Urias and second baseman Cody Van-Es.
"In the pre-season practices, I noticed a more close-knit group of players here than in the past," O'Meara said. "We really want to turn it around, and it's going to take some hard work in the pre-conference schedule to be prepared for South Coast Conference play."
In his 10th season directing the Lancers, O'Meara has added Tyler Wright to the assistant coaching staff and will continue to be aided by fourth-year assistant Dave Walters.
PCC will not make its home debut until Saturday, Feb. 8 when it hosts Cerro Coso in a doubleheader (opener at 11 a.m.) at Brookside Park's Jackie Robinson Memorial Field. The Lancers will be in action again on Friday, Jan. 31 when they travel to face Antelope Valley College at 2 p.m.. PCC plays at AVC again on Saturday, Feb. 1 in a 12 noon first pitch.
[Photo--PJ DeZotell makes the diving catch during PCC's season opener Monday at El Cariso Park in Sylmar, image by Richard Quinton, sports information photographer.]
Release Date: 01/28/2014