Ever since Granada Hills Kennedy opened in 1971, it has been known to produce lots of baseball-playing brothers.
Tagliaferri, Serr, Miranda, Avlas, Kane, Pinto, Ramirez, Sanchez, Bourne — they are just a few of the families that helped propel Kennedy to seven City Section championships.
But no brother combination comes close to pulling off what Nick and Estevan Rodriguez did this month in a home game against Granada Hills.
Batting third and fourth in the starting lineup, Nick, a senior shortstop, and Estevan, a junior first baseman, hit back-to-back inside-the-park home runs. The balls were sent to almost the identical spot in right center.
Mom and Dad were delirious with joy. Grandpa couldn't believe what he was seeing and had tears in his eyes. Big brother and little brother celebrated as if they were 5-year-olds.
"I never expected him to hit it in the same spot, so it was a real cool experience," Nick said. "I was definitely screaming. I was right outside the dugout waiting for him, because I knew it was crazy."
Said Estevan: "After he hit his, I was thinking, 'I have to hit the ball and try to beat him.' I hit it to the same spot and it was an amazing feeling. I almost tripped at third."
Coaches love to have brothers on a team because they usually help create good chemistry, and the Rodriguez brothers are well-liked and much appreciated.
Nick, a lanky 6-foot-2 four-year varsity player, is batting .375. He took a recruiting visit to Nevada Las Vegas on Saturday. He's one of the top fielding shortstops in the City Section.
"Not many get to say they played on the same team with their brother, let alone a high school team," Nick said. "I find that such an amazing experience, and I get to spend the best years of my life with him."
The 5-foot-9 Estevan has been having an All-City season. He's batting .492 with 32 RBIs and has made just one error as first baseman.
"It's amazing to see him at shortstop and me being able to save him is a good feeling," said Estevan.
Growing up, Estevan was considered the better baseball player, but Nick passed him in the height department and caught up.
Coach Andy Rodriguez (no relation) said the brothers have been invaluable in helping fuel a resurgent Kennedy team that is 16-7 overall and 5-1 in the Valley Mission League. The team is heading into a possible title-deciding two-game series against Sylmar (18-7, 7-1) on Tuesday at Sylmar and Thursday at Kennedy.
If anyone is more excited than the coach, it's the family. There are six Rodriguez siblings, five of them boys. There's a 12-year-old baseball-playing brother still to come and a 6-year-old sister.
The family pride is there for everyone to see. Each time Nick throws the ball to first base, it's his brother doing his best to make the catch.
"I've never trusted a first baseman more," Nick said.
Estevan smiles when he makes his brother proud.
"He's always there to defend me and back me up," he said. "I know he has my back."
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