San Pedro Prep Baseball 2015 Preview
Fernando Rivas (POLA) (photo: Jamaal K. Street)
Springtime is in the air, and America’s favorite pastime is beginning to blossom.
There is plenty of promise ahead for San Pedro, Port of Los Angeles and Mary Star of the Sea High School baseball teams as they begin to start swinging for the 2015 season.
In the past, San Pedro won the CIF-Los Angeles City Section championship in 1992, and it remains to this day the only non-San Fernando Valley-based City title in the last four decades, dating back to 1974. Mary Star reached a CIF-Southern Section final back in 2002, while POLA won their first CIF-LACS crown just last season.
Going into the 2015 campaign for the three schools, San Pedro appears to be the most talented and experienced of the bunch.
“We have a great bunch of kids who come from amazing families, kids with a lot of talent who want to win a championship,” San Pedro second-year coach Steve Tedesco says. “But it takes more than just talent to win. It will be interesting to see if we can come together as a team and believe in each other.”
San Pedro (10-20 overall in 2014) had what many would consider a down year last season, with a lot of youth, and the inexperience showed. Yet, the Pirates still placed third in the Marine League two years after going 10-0 in league, and making the CIF-LACS Division I playoffs as a wild card.
The Pirates have a deep pitching staff, paced by sophomores Isaiah Bumgarner and Mikey Hernandez, while senior Cheech Pacheco and sophomore Vincent Pirozzi have also seen time this season. Sacred Heart-bound infielder Louie Canjura is extremely dangerous at the plate.
Junior catcher J.J. Duarte is a very skilled performer and one of three returning All-Marine League players from last year.
Tedesco says Duarte has a great upside.
“It’s been fun to see J.J. grow and develop these last couple years,” Tedesco says. “He has certainly positioned himself as one of the best catchers in the City. However, he still has a lot of growing to do. I don’t think we’ve seen even close to what J.J. can be if he sets his mind to it.”
San Pedro will once again challenge traditional rivals Banning of Wilmington and defending Marine League champion Narbonne of Harbor City for league supremacy.
POLA (14-9 in 2014) had the most remarkable run last season, starting off 1-4 before winning 13 of their final 18 games, including winning the CIF-LACS Division III championship, the school’s first and only male-related sports crown.
“We have a lot of experience and key components from last year’s team returning,” POLA co-coach Brian Emerson said. “I am counting on our seniors and juniors to really step up.”
The Polar Bears will be in the newly-revised Crosstown-Ocean League, where they were champions a season ago when it was just the Crosstown. Junior left-handed pitcher Fernando Rivas, who was one of the main pieces of the puzzle last season, will once again be crucial to POLA’s success.
Senior 2B/OF Matt Sparks, senior infielder Jonathan Contreras, junior outfielder Paul Castaneda, senior 3B/P Ricky Vasquez and junior 2B/C/P Anthony Raya are other key players for POLA.
Junior second baseman Angel Munoz was the hero of last year’s CIF-LACS Division III final against Fulton College Prep of Van Nuys, as his RBI-infield single in the bottom of the ninth inning propelled the Polar Bears to a 3-2 victory at USC.
Harbor Teacher Prep and Animo Venice Charter are the two main challengers to POLA’s reign atop the Crosstown League.
Meanwhile over at Mary Star (15-12 in 2014), coach Andy Fiamengo has a team that is more than capable of contending in the Camino Real League and challenge defending champion Cantwell Sacred Heart of Montebello.
The Stars even got a home makeover with brand-new white jerseys courtesy of Under Armour, which makes for a real exciting sight to behold for their home games at the beautiful Fromhold Field in San Pedro.
Senior P/OF Derrick Edwards is very versatile and strong, already hitting a home run this season against Carson on March 7. Junior infielders Joey Domicoli and Gianfranco Gentile provide speed and pop at the top of the lineup. Junior catcher Nico Castania is another dangerous hitter.
Edwards and sophomore Ryan Sadler pace the Stars’ pitching staff.