Baseball: Three teams set to repeat championship seasons
by Bob Brownne
Feb 22, 2013 | 3272 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Baseball teams ready for first pitch
Millennium High freshman Josh Harrison winds up for a pitch during an intrasquad scrimmage on Monday, Feb. 18, at Millennium High.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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Five local baseball teams return to the diamond this spring, including three — Tracy, Millennium and Delta Charter — that brought home league titles in 2012. Meanwhile, West and Kimball are back with experienced players determined to move their teams forward in 2013



Tracy High

There’s no doubt that Tracy High’s varsity baseball team will bring top-notch pitching to the field this year.

Back for his fourth varsity season is senior left-handed pitcher Jonah Wesely, who is bound for NCAA Division I University of California, Los Angeles, in the fall. In 2012, the second time he earned San Joaquin Athletic Association Pitcher of the Year honors, his 5-1 record included three no-hitters and a 0.95 earned-run average.

Senior right-handed pitcher John Jaeger boasted a 9-3 record and was the 2012 SJAA Most Valuable Player. He plans to attend NCAA Division I University of the Pacific.

But aside from that starting tandem and returning senior infielder David Miranda, the Bulldogs will be a much different team than their league-championship squad of 2012, which went 24-6 overall and 14-1 in league and reached the semifinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Divison I playoffs.

Coach Vic Alkire said he’s counting on upcoming talent.

“We’ve got speed this year, not the power that we had last year,” Alkire said. “We’re going to be doing more what they call small ball — hit and run, stealing bases, sacrificing a guy down.”



Millennium High

Senior Austin Larson expects the Falcons will take a big step forward in 2013 and finally get over the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII hump.

“The last two years, we went to the (section) championship game and lost both,” Larson said. “This year, I expect to go to the championship game and win it. That would be a nice progression.”

Larson, the 2012 Central California Athletic Alliance co-Most Valuable Player with a 9-2 record as a pitcher and a .421 batting average, is one of three returning four-year varsity players. Senior outfielders Kyle Murawski and Mark DeWitt also started as freshmen.

Also returning is junior first baseman and pitcher Spencer Blackwell and senior infielder Gavin Compton, who led the team in runs batted in with 33.

Coach Drew Reyes is especially happy that he can bring on juniors who have played the past two years on Millennium’s junior varsity team.

Last year, the Falcons went 20-8 overall and 9-1 in the CCAA, sharing the league title with Elliot Christian of Lodi. Reyes expects Elliot will still be strong, but he expects Brookside Christian of Stockton will be the bigger challenge this year.

West High

Nine returning seniors will look to sustain the momentum that the Wolf Pack built last year.

West is out to improve on a 7-12 overall record and a 6-4 third-place finish in the Tri-City Athletic League behind Today and St. Mary’s, the 2012 league and Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champion.

West made it to the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs, but Beyer High of Modesto beat West 2-1 on a walk-off double.

Senior catcher Chase Martinez, a 2012 all-TCAL first-team player and West’s leading batter last year with a .525 average, said players are focused.

“It almost feels like the same team,” Martinez said. “All of us have the same confidence as last year.”

Returning pitchers include seniors Kevin Oetken, Nick Gandall and Jackson Nott, and junior Mitch Cowles. They figure to be one of the Wolf Pack’s strengths.

Coach Roger Gallardo just wants to see the team improve with each game.

“As long as they believe in themselves and believe in their hard work, things pay off,” he said.

The downside for West’s baseball program is that a lack of players forced the school to abandon its freshman team.

“Hopefully,” Gallardo said, “we get the numbers next year to bring it back.”



Kimball High

In their fourth year together, Kimball High’s senior baseball players expect this is the year the Jaguars will make an impression in the Valley Oak League.

Center fielder Kris Bartlett is one of five seniors who have been together since the Jaguars first fielded a team in 2010 at the junior varsity level.

Bartlett batted .421 and made the all-VOL team last year when Kimball went 10-8 overall and 6-8 in league.

Seniors in their fourth year as Jaguars also include catcher Zack Perugi; infielders Zack Johnson and Nathan Van Katwyk, who will also take on pitching duties; and Logan Finley. Senior pitcher Alec Barba is in his third year.

Coach Scott Anderson said he expects the VOL will be strong as ever.

“We’re just out to win as much as we can,” Anderson said, “and we’ve got the right group of ballplayers to do it.”



Delta Charter High

The Dragons hope to take another step forward in their fourth year of California Interscholastic Federation baseball.

Delta Charter brings back six players from 2012, when the Dragons went 5-6 overall and 4-2 in the Mountain Valley League, winning the league crown.

Returning players include senior infielder-outfielder James Prime, a member of the original 2010 Dragons. Returning pitchers are senior Tyler Daugherty, who batted .375, and sophomore Jonathan Palmer. Juniors Andrew Silva and Justin Rudnick are also back, as is sophomore Miyuki Shibata — the only girl on the team.

Coach Steve Abercrombie said the Dragons have one more league opponent, Ben Holt Academy of Stockton, and also added Excel Academy of Stockton to their schedule.

“It will be competitive,” Abercrombie said. “If we play well we’ll have a good chance of repeating (as league champs).”

• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or brownne@tracypress.com.
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