Baseball: Granada Hills Kennedy has unfinished business

Senior pitcher strikes out nine in Kennedy's 3-1 win over Cleveland

There's unfinished business Granada Hills Kennedy baseball players are trying to complete this season.

A year ago, Kennedy was expected to be one of the teams playing for a City championship at Dodger Stadium. The Golden Cougars were ahead of Birmingham, 3-1, in the semifinals. Then the Patriots rallied for a 4-3 victory and went on to win the City title.


"Last year hurt," Kennedy Coach Andy Rodriguez said. "They learned from it and they think we can move on, and coming out and beating a good West Valley League team is going to help."

Kennedy (2-0) defeated Cleveland and ace pitcher Ben Kaser, 3-1, on Saturday. The Golden Cougars return lots of key players, including pitcher Felix Rubi, who struck out nine, walked two and allowed seven hits in a complete-game performance. Estevan Rodriguez, last season's Valley Mission League MVP, had a two-run double in the first inning.

The big concern this season was replacing All-City shortstop Nick Rodriguez, but Carlos Castro played well in the field on Saturday. Defense and pitching are the Golden Cougars' strengths. Center fielder Marcos Manzano had a big day. He caught three fly balls in one inning, started the game with a bunt single and added a squeeze bunt in the fifth.

The big challenge for Kennedy will be trying to stay sharp once Valley Mission League play begins, because there will be lots of mercy rule games except for San Fernando and Sylmar. That's why playing well in nonleague games will be very important.

Taft improved to 3-0 with a 9-2 win over Bell. Jayson Newman hit his fourth home run of the season, a two-run shot. Eric Carrero added a two-run home run. Matthew Parent struck out seven in six innings.

Marshall scored six runs in the seventh to defeat Poly, 7-6.

San Pedro improved to 2-0 with a 9-5 win over Verdugo Hills. Grant Mona had three hits for Verdugo Hills. University defeated North Hollywood, 2-0.