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Glendale Community College baseball garners division recognition

Glendale Community College baseball garners division recognition
Glendale Community College starting pitcher Chris Davidson, center, received All-Western State Conference East Division first-team recognition after helping the Vaqueros win the division title. (Raul Roa | Staff Photographer)

With plenty of standouts across the diamond, the Glendale Community College baseball team turned in an impressive season that included winning the Western State Conference East Division championship and a postseason run.

Backed by splendid starting pitching, defense and a deep lineup, the Vaqueros (30-13, 17-3 in the division) won a division title for the sixth time since the start of the 2011 season and reached the California Community College Athletic Assn. Super Regionals.

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Glendale received plenty of postseason honors, as 14 Vaqueros were bestowed with all-division accolades. Six Glendale players picked up all-division first-team recognition.

“It definitely speaks volumes for the team that we had and we had a lot of special players who went out there and contributed,” said Glendale coach Chris Cicuto, who was named the division’s coach of the year.

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Fifth-seeded Glendale defeated No. 12 Pasadena in the regional before falling against No. 4 Mount San Antonio in the Super Regional.

Chris Davidson, Felix Rubi, Konner Piotto, Troy Viola, Jacob Gribbin and Tom Tabak received first-team recognition.

Davidson anchored the starting rotation as a sophomore. The left-hander finished 7-1 with two saves and a 2.68 earned-run average in 17 appearances. He struck out 64 and walked 20 in 84 innings.

“Chris’ progression has been something special,” Cicuto said. “He was the complete package and always came up big.

“He’s got such a high aptitude for reading swings. That’s something special right there.”

Rubi, a sophomore reliever, proved to be ideal out of the bullpen for the Vaqueros. Rubi, a right-hander, missed last season because of Tommy John surgery. In 10 appearances, Rubi went 1-0 with a 0.95 ERA. In 19 innings, he struck out 23.

“The one thing you noticed about Felix is how mentally tough he is,” Cicuto said. “He came back from a tough injury and his command was so unique.”

Piotto, a sophomore catcher, anchored the pitching staff with precision.

Piotto also batted .344 with 14 runs, 12 stolen bases and 20 runs batted in.

“Konner has an unbelievable rapport with the pitching staff,” Cicuto said. “That’s got a lot to do with his communication skills being so high.

“He developed a lot and his defense was outstanding.”

Viola, a freshman infielder, helped stabilize the infield and provided pop in the lineup. Viola also earned gold glove honors.

Viola hit .306 with nine home runs and 38 runs batted in. He recorded seven doubles and scored 33 runs. Viola recorded a .943 fielding percentage, committing nine errors in 158 total chances.

“You could see the improvement throughout the season with Troy,” Cicuto said. “[Glendale associate coach] Alex Kocol worked with Troy for hours on defense and they cleaned up his defense.

“Once that happened, his offense took off. He was a threat offensively, but also held his own defensively.”

Gribbin and Tabak were named to the first team as outfielders.

Gribbin, a sophomore, batted .384 with 16 doubles, 34 RBI and 24 stolen bases.

“Jacob had so many crucial at-bats throughout the season,” Cicuto said. “He had a lot of walks and doubles and you’re happy to see him focused after having some injuries.”

Tabak flourished as a freshman. Tabak hit .344 with nine doubles, 27 RBI, 43 runs and 19 stolen bases.

“He’s got great speed from the left side and did a great job at grinding out at-bats,” Cicuto said. “Tom just seemed to get better throughout the year.”

The Vaqueros added six second-teamers in starting pitchers Jason Whaley and Dexter Wilkerson, reliever Kevin Holcomb, infielders Lucas Sakay and Jake Selco and designated hitter Thaddeus Wilson.

Whaley, a sophomore right-hander, went 2-5 with a 5.23 ERA in 13 outings. He struck out 55 in 53 1/3 innings.

Wilkerson, a freshman right-hander, finished 3-4 with a 3.16 ERA in 12 appearances. In 57 innings, he struck out 57 and walked 17.

Holcomb, a freshman right-hander, went 4-1 with two saves and a 4.62 ERA. In 15 outings, Holcomb struck out 37 in 39 innings.

Sakay and Selco were instrumental in the infield for the Vaqueros, as both picked up gold gloves.

Sakay, a freshman, batted .299 with 30 runs and 19 RBI. Sakay had seven errors in 160 fielding chances for a .956 fielding percentage.

Selco, a sophomore, hit .281 with eight doubles, 22 runs and 24 RBI. Selco didn’t commit an error while handling 161 chances.

Wilson, a sophomore out of Glendale High, batted .338 with eight doubles, 12 stolen bases, 31 runs and 15 RBI.

Gerardo Ramirez, Tony LaPorte and Grant Mona received honorable mention.

Ramirez, a freshman reliever, went 4-2 with a 4.08 ERA in 14 appearances. LaPorte, a sophomore catcher, batted .278 with 15 RBI. Mona, a sophomore infielder, hit .268 with 24 runs and 20 RBI.

College of the Canyons’ Calvin Estrada was the conference’s player of the year and teammate Jacob Lopez was the pitcher of the year.

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