McCormack quite the ace

One thing John Emme has learned through his 15 years as the baseball coach at Corona del Mar High is if he lands the best athletes on campus, his team is going to be pretty good.

Emme got one of the top athletes at the school in Andrew McCormack to play for him for four years.

McCormack stood out, not just because of the afro he used to sport. Emme was never a fan of the hairdo, but he sure was of McCormack's abilities.

He played hard and he and his teams competed in the robust Pacific Coast League. Emme marveled at McCormack's talents.

How many athletes can lead the CdM boys' basketball team to a third straight CIF Southern Section quarterfinal appearance, then turn around a couple of weeks later and throw a complete-game gem for the baseball team against a defending section champion?

McCormack did in his last year in high school.

To those who saw McCormack perform as a senior, it is no surprise to them that he earned All-CIF honors in both basketball and baseball.

The next award for McCormack is the Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Dream Team Player of the Year in baseball.

He made the Dream Team in basketball in the winter, but in the spring, McCormack turned in the most impressive season of any ballplayer in the area. He dominated on the mound, fielded at a high level, even at first base when he wasn't pitching, and he displayed a big bat.

At the top of almost every pitching and offensive statistic for CdM, listed No. 1 was McCormack.

He went 8-3 with a 1.57 earned-run average. Almost half of his 11 starts went the distance. He threw five complete games and 71 1/3 innings, striking out 37 during the span.

Only two CdM batters hit above .300. The highest average belonged to McCormack at .375. He drove in 22 runs with five doubles.

It wasn't easy striking him out, either. He fanned only a half dozen times in 95 plate appearances. McCormack finished with a .436 on-base percentage and a .438 slugging percentage.

The numbers that really mattered to McCormack were the runs on the scoreboard at the end of a game. He believed CdM boasted the talent to claim a league title, the program's first in six years.

When those hopes ended, the opposing coach, Beckman's Kevin Lavalle, paid McCormack the best compliment.

"I shook his hand after the game and I told him, 'It's been fun for the past [four] years,'" said Lavalle, whose team went on to defend its league crown. "He's just a good kid. He's a good person. A lot of our kids play on the same teams in the summer and they say the same thing, 'Andrew McCormack is a good dude and he's a heck of a pitcher.'"

McCormack, a repeat Dream Team selection, left his mark at CdM. The right-hander, who's bound for Stanford, posted stellar numbers on the mound during his four-year CdM career.

His 239 innings of work rank No. 1 of any pitcher in the last 15 years under Emme's watch. The second pitcher on the list is 77 innings behind McCormack.

McCormack went 21-14 with a 2.33 ERA, the second-best mark in the last 15 years for a CdM pitcher with at least 100 innings. His 139 strikeouts are No. 2.

No. 1 is where McCormack, a first-team all-league selection, wanted the Sea Kings to finish in league. They placed third and reached the Division 3 playoffs after they missed the postseason the previous season.

The ride ended in the first round. You cannot fault McCormack for his effort. He lasted 8 2/3 innings and allowed one earned run before CdM lost, 4-3, in extra innings at Lancaster.

The last two games McCormack represented CdM came against some of the best players in Orange County. He started on the mound in the Kiwanis Club of Greater Anaheim's 45th annual Orange County North-South All-Star Game for seniors and in the Ryan Lemmon Senior Showcase game between the Pacific Coast League and Freeway League.

In both games, McCormack's teams prevailed. He wrapped up his high school career a winner.

The following are the rest of the players on this year's Dream Team:

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Alex Trancoso

Estancia

Senior center fielder covered a lot of ground for the Eagles. Trancoso earned All-CIF Southern Section Division 4 and first-team All-Orange Coast League honors, and played in the Kiwanis Club of Greater Anaheim's 45th annual Orange County North-South All-Star Game for seniors. He led the area with a .448 batting average and a .525 on-base percentage. He finished with 17 runs batted in, nine doubles, one triple, 25 runs, 13 for 13 in stolen-base attempts and a .575 slugging percentage. Coach Nate Goellrich said Trancoso's 39 hits during the season rank second all-time at Estancia. Trancoso is a two-time Dream Team pick.

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Brent Lawson

Corona del Mar

Senior catcher showed his versatility and leadership skills again for the Sea Kings. Lawson started at catcher after playing in the infield and outfield the previous seasons and he continued to produce. Lawson, the Dream Team Player of the Year in football, caught the area's top baseball player, Andrew McCormack. Lawson, who is bound for Yale, hit an area-best four home runs and batted .253 with 20 runs batted in, six doubles, one triple, and went eight for eight in stolen-base attempts. He earned first-team All-Pacific Coast League accolades. Lawson is a two-time Dream Team pick.

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Jordan Desguin

Newport Harbor

Senior shortstop batted from both sides of the plate for the first time and he excelled for the Sailors. Desguin hit .413 in Sunset League play, the second highest batting average in league, said Coach Patrick Murphy. During a nine-game stretch, he batted .630. Desguin finished with a .364 average, tying him for first on the Sailors, to go with seven runs batted in, five doubles and one triple. Desguin, who is bound for Florida State, earned first-team All-Sunset League honors and played in the Ryan Lemmon Senior Showcase game between the Sunset League and Trinity League.

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Andres Hernandez

Estancia

Senior pitcher always went up against the best. Hernandez went 5-2 with a 1.50 earned-run average, the lowest for a starter in the history of Estancia's program, said Coach Nate Goellrich. He said Hernandez broke the 1.59 ERA mark set in 1988. Hernandez almost went the distance in half of his 10 starts, tossing four complete games. His longest stint lasted 10 innings against Fountain Valley. Hernandez, a second-team All-Orange Coast League selection, struck out 43 and walked 15 in 65 innings. He hit .302 with 22 runs batted in. Hernandez is a two-time Dream Team pick.

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Shaun Vetrovec

Newport Harbor

Sophomore pitcher turned into a dynamic player for the Sailors. He stepped into the ace's role after the projected No. 1 starter dealt with an injury. Vetrovec went on to collect half of Newport Harbor's six victories. He went 3-4 with a 3.14 earned-run average and struck out 35 batters in 42 1/3 innings. Vetrovec, a second-team All-Sunset League selection, also could hit. He batted .329 with 12 runs batted in and five doubles, and drove in the game-winning run in the ninth inning against Los Alamitos to secure the Sailors' first league victory.

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Billy Macdonald

Corona del Mar

Senior pitcher was a workhorse for the Sea Kings, throwing 60 innings and three complete-game shutouts. The shutouts by Macdonald came in critical games, the first in the Battle of the Bay game against Newport Harbor, the second in a Pacific Coast League game against Irvine that helped the Sea Kings reach the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs, and the third in a wild-card playoff win against Beverly Hills. He went 4-6 with a 3.15 earned-run average. Macdonald played in the Ryan Lemmon Senior Showcase game between the Pacific Coast League and Freeway League.

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Steven Macias

Estancia

Junior pitcher was the Eagles' No. 2 starter, but he performed like an ace. Macias went 8-2 with 1.54 earned-run average. He struck out 40 batters and walked only 11 in 50 innings. Macias threw three complete games, including a shutout. He earned first-team All-Orange Coast League laurels. Macias kept Estancia in contention for an Orange Coast League title throughout the season. The Eagles finished just one game out of first place. As a hitter, Macias' average was .338 with 13 runs batted in, three triples, two doubles and 16 runs.

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Trace Curet

Costa Mesa

Senior left fielder produced one of the finest seasons in the area. Curet led the Mustangs in practically every offensive category, batting average (.429), home runs (one), runs batted in (15), doubles (seven), hits (27), runs (18), on-base percentage (.520) and slugging percentage (.619). He received second-team All-Orange Coast League laurels. His best game was going three for three with two RBIs and two doubles against Orange Coast League champion Calvary Chapel. Curet, an athletic two-sport standout at Costa Mesa, plans to play football at Chapman University.

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Tyler Rios

Estancia

Junior finds himself as the utility player because of a logjam in the infield. Rios batted in the heart of the Eagles' lineup or led off, wherever they needed his services. The team leader usually delivered, recording a team-best 26 runs batted in, the third most in a season in the history of Estancia's program, said Coach Nate Goellrich. Rios, a first-team All-Orange Coast League selection, hit .333 with nine doubles, 23 runs, and went eight for nine in stolen-base attempts. Rios is a two-time Dream Team pick.

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Michael Yorita

Sage Hill

Senior is the designated hitter after putting up impressive numbers for the Lightning. Yorita led the area with 32 runs batted in, 42 hits, 11 doubles and a .608 slugging percentage. He batted .433 with 11 doubles, 23 runs and a .505 on-base percentage. Yorita earned first-team All-Academy League honors after helping Sage Hill clinch an at-large berth into the CIF Southern Section Division 6 playoffs. Yorita went three for four with one double in Sage Hill's 12-2 wild-card win at Hamilton of Anza.

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Max Stone

Corona del Mar

Junior second baseman became one of the Sea Kings' most reliable hitters. Stone drove in 22 runs, tying him for first with the Sea Kings, and doubled eight times, tops at the school. He batted .333 and scored nine runs. Stone, an All-Pacific Coast League honorable mention, helped the Sea Kings place third in league and return to the CIF Southern Section postseason after missing it the previous season. In CdM's 5-0 win against Beverly Hills in a Division 3 wild-card game, Stone went three for four with an RBI.

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Ben Beck

Estancia

Junior right fielder led by example by hustling for the Eagles. Beck set the table in the second part of the Eagles' season. He was the ideal leadoff man because of his speed and bunting skills. He received first-team All-Orange Coast League accolades after hitting .364 with 14 runs batted in, three doubles, two triples and 23 runs. He led Estancia with 16 steals in 18 tries. Beck played a vital role to Estancia reaching the CIF Southern Section playoffs for the third straight season, the first under first-year coach Nate Goellrich.

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Hunter Heckendorn

Corona del Mar

Junior third baseman played the hot corner at a high level for the Sea Kings. Heckendorn, a second-team All-Pacific Coast League selection, was a big reason why the earned-run average of the Sea Kings' pitching staff was 3.21. He batted .250 with six runs batted in, seven doubles, one triple and 11 runs. Heckendorn went two for three with a double and a triple, and scored a run in CdM's CIF Southern Section Division 3 first-round playoff game at Lancaster.

david.carrillo@latimes.com

Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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