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Falcon Summer Baseball Camp still flying high

GLENDALE — Haydan Phelan gobbled up his share of ground balls on the edge of the infield at Stengel Field and came away with a couple of holes in his uniform pants and a smudge of dirt on his right cheek.

Phelan, 7, stood out by showing his range during one of many exercises conducted at the fifth annual Falcon Summer Baseball Camp, which began Monday and concluded Thursday.

"We are all here trying to get better in different areas of the game," said Phelan, a La Crescenta resident. "It's worth it because we love baseball and we feel like baseball players.

"You have to learn to stay in front of the ball so you can make the play. It's fun, but it's a lot of hard work."

Nearly 85 participants joined Phelan as they flocked to Stengel to take part in the event, which is spearheaded by veteran Crescenta Valley High baseball Coach Phil Torres. Receiving on-site training from Torres, his assistants and former and current players from the area, the campers, ages 7 to 13, picked up pointers on hitting, defense and pitching. In addition, the camp featured a few guest speakers, who discussed the values of sportsmanship and leadership.

Phelan was hard at work, soaking up any advice he could receive to help him the next time he stood at the plate or in the field ready to perform in a game situation.

"It's one of my favorite sports," Phelan said. "It's pretty cool when you can learn something from somebody."

Torres, who led Crescenta Valley to a Pacific League championship and an appearance in the CIF Southern Section Division II quarterfinals this season, monitored the progress being made during each drill conducted across the diamond. Torres, who has guided the Falcons to 12 league championships and one CIF crown, holds a similar two-day camp in late December.

With the current camp being held, it's an ideal time to brush up on the various fundamentals leading up to the Little League all-star season.

"We have it where we were working on defense mostly on Monday and Tuesday and then have them work on some hitting and pitching," Torres said. "There's more to it with sportsmanship, hustle and having that enthusiasm for the game.

"You want to see them have that passion, even if it's just playing catch."

Brandon Jimenez, 13, made his inaugural appearance at the camp.

Jimenez, a student at Rosemont Middle School, asked his parents if he could attend a local baseball clinic to help his improve his skills. Jimenez chose Torres' camp, which attracted participants from Glendale, La Crescenta, La Cañada Flintridge and parts of the San Gabriel Valley.

"It's the best way to get instruction," Jimenez said. "You are always trying to get better.

"I want to be able to get better with my mechanics defensively and learning to stay on top of the ball when I'm hitting."

The guest speaker Wednesday was Vigen Jilizian, an assistant coach with the Glendale Community College men's basketball team and a former Hoover High boys' basketball head coach.

Jilizian addressed the campers for about 10 minutes.

"If you want to get to the next level, then what kind of teammate can you be?," Jilizian said. "When we are out looking for new players, we try to find the best teammates.

"We look at things like their attitude, body language and more. You are always being watched. We know when we see a player that they are good. There's a lot more to it than that. We want to see players who are enthusiastic and who will listen to the coach."


Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich.

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