BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON HIGH — As a freshman with the Bellarmine-Jefferson High baseball team, Philip Diaz-McTague was an All-CIF Southern Section second-team selection.
As a sophomore, Diaz-McTague had another fine season, earning All-Santa Fe League first-team accolades, although he did not make any All-CIF teams.
His quest to earn his second All-CIF selection of his tenure with the Guards was quashed during his junior campaign, when a severe ankle injury ended his season. The injury was so severe, in fact, that some told Diaz-McTague that his career might be over.
But he battled back, and after months of rehabilitation, he returned to the Bell-Jeff lineup this past season. Not only did he make it back, but he thrived, putting together another solid season. His exploits were rewarded, as he once again earned made it back to the All-CIF fray, earning first-team honors.
He is the lone area baseball player to garner the honor this season.
"What a fitting way for him to end his high school year, to make All-CIF," said former Bell-Jeff Coach Hector Perez, who was laid off at the end of the school year. "And to make the first team is really great for him."
Perez said Diaz-McTague worked hard to return for his senior season.
"He wanted to come back, and that's what motivated him," Perez said. "He just worked very hard for that to happen…He deserves this."
Diaz helped lead the Guards (11-9) to a second-place finish in the Santa Fe League and a berth in the playoffs. Bell-Jeff was the only city team to make the postseason, as Perez's tenure ended with a ninth-straight CIF appearance.
Diaz-McTague — who was also a standout football player for Bell-Jeff prior to his injury — played wherever the Guards needed him, seeing time at pitcher and in the infield.
He finished the season hitting .492 (30 for 61) with 27 runs scored, 15 runs batted in, one home run and four stolen bases (on five attempts). His six doubles, three triples, on-base (.549) and slugging percentages (.738) were all team highs for the Guards.
He was also one of Bell-Jeff's go-to pitchers, even though he had limited experience on the mound coming into the season. He tossed the second-most innings for the Guards (28 1/3).
For his efforts, Diaz-McTague was voted the Santa Fe League Player of the Year. It was the sixth time a Bell-Jeff player captured the award during Perez's 11-year tenure.
During his freshman All-CIF campaign, Diaz-McTague led Bell-Jeff with a .591 batting average. Along with scoring 40 runs, he had 39 hits, seven doubles and two triples. He also stole 23 bases in 24 attempts.