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Local teams getting back on track

Jim Riggio

Getting into the CIF Southern Section playoffs is the goal of almost

every team that takes the field. Last season, all four local baseball

teams -- Burbank, Burroughs, Bellarmine-Jefferson and Providence --

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fell short of that goal. This season, all four teams should be

improved and figure to contend for a chance to participate in

postseason play.

BURROUGHS

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Ever since he graduated from Burroughs High in 1996, Tom Crowther

has dreamed of becoming the head coach of his alma mater. Now, after

six years as an assistant, Crowther’s dream has come true. He takes

over the head coaching reigns from Jose Valle, who coached the

Indians for nine seasons and led Burroughs to a Foothill League title

in 1997.

After missing the playoffs the past two seasons, Crowther is eager

to get the Indians back to their old winning ways, when he played for

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them.

While Burroughs (15-10-1, 5-9-1 in the Foothill League) has

certainly improved in hitting -- after former Indian standouts Mike

Magnante and Wes Hutchison helped out in the offseason with batting

practice -- Crowther is hoping his pitchers will be the Indians’

strong point.

Senior Mike Diaz, a three-year varsity player, will be the ace of

the Indian staff. The right hander went 5-4 last season and stuck out

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63 in 68 innings.

Sophomore Josh Campbell, a left-hander who threw a no-hitter

against Burbank, follows Diaz. They will alternate between the mound

and first base.

Crowther is also very high on senior shortstop Kyle Williams, a

three-year varsity player.

“He’s got the best hands in the league,” Crowther said of

Williams, who stole 19 bases in 21 attempts last year.

BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON

Hector Perez is now in his third year as the Guards’ coach, and he

feels he finally has a group that can start winning.

“We’re optimistic and very pleased that we have something we can

build on,” said Perez, a former Burroughs assistant.

Bell-Jeff went 2-8 in the Santa Fe League last year, but has a

solid core of young players. The Guards last made the CIF playoffs in

1995.

Senior pitcher Brian Vargas is the veteran of the team.

His brother, Fabio, a junior, will also pitch and play in the

infield.

Sophomore Derek Leiphardt, who had a strong football season, will

be the Guards’ catcher and could also see some time on the mound.

But it’s the Guards’ freshman class that Perez is most excited

about.

Left-hander Ronnie Rohr will start at first base and see time on

the mound.

Perez is extremely impressed with fellow freshman Aaron Molina,

and he isn’t afraid to put him at shortstop.

Sophomore Joey Diaz, a transfer from Alemany, figures to anchor

the outfield.

“This year is very pivotal,” Perez said. “We have a core that

will stay with us for three or four years.

BURBANK

Times have been difficult in recent years for the Bulldogs, but

third-year Coach Paul Marietti is hoping the worst times are behind

his program, which hasn’t won a league game in his first two seasons.

Burbank went 5-20 last year.

The good news for the Bulldogs this season is that the team

returns many key players from last season’s team that went 0-15 in

the Foothill League.

Early indications that things will be much better have already

come to light, as Burbank defeated Hoover, 4-1, in a scrimmage on

Saturday.

“That team is probably going to make the playoffs in their

league,” Marietti said of Hoover. "[For us] it’s not a matter of how

good we are, it’s a matter of what league we’re in.”

Leading Burbank’s pitching staff are senior returners John Bertain

and Ken Ngarayawongse.

Senior catcher Anthony Mazziotti will also be a key player.

Senior second baseman Paul Gonzalez returns, as does senior third

baseman Mike Pacheco. Both are four-year varsity player.

“We have eight seniors in our starting lineup,” Marietti said.

“We want to be a competitive team. We want to be able to win a game

in the seventh inning. We’re not going to get mercy-ruled this year.

We’re going to be competitive and we’re going to surprise some

people.”

PROVIDENCE

The Pioneers are hoping to return to the CIF playoffs after

missing out last year following a 6-6 Liberty League season.

“I think we have a real good team, and if the pitching develops,

we can be very good,” Providence Coach Blaine Anderson said.

Senior pitchers R.J. Matta and Paul Palone lead the Pioneer

pitching staff. Matta might also see time behind the plate or at

third base.

Senior first baseman Andrew Franco figures to be a key player.


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