The Glendale Community College baseball team proudly holds a tradition of producing championship teams and prolific players.
The Vaqueros enjoyed yet another eventful season in 2019, winning a second consecutive Western State Conference East Division title, the seventh since 2011.
By virtue of winning the conference crown, 15 Glendale players garnered All-Western State Conference East Division accolades, headlined by Vaqueros sophomore catcher Michael Choi and sophomore pitcher Dexter Wilkerson.
Choi was named WSC East Player of the Year and was selected to the all-conference first-team, while Wilkerson received the WSC East Pitcher of the Year award and was included on the all-conference first-team.
In addition, Glendale first-year coach Alex Kocol was tabbed the conference’s coach of the year.
Glendale finished conference play with a 15-5 record and closed the season at 30-17. The team earned a berth in the California Community College Athletic Assn. Southern California Sectionals, where it fell to El Camino College in a best-of-three series.
Kocol attributed the Vaqueros’ success to the mold assistant coaches Justin Togeas, Jordan Plasencia and Sergio Plasencia built since he was an assistant before taking over this season, along with the aid of former head coach Chris Cicuto, who is the college’s interim associate dean of athletics.
“I think those guys did an amazing job of handling me and handling the personnel,” Kocol said. “It’s a really unique situation we have in how much collaboration we have. There’s a lot of really great eyes on the players that are here. I think we have, together, really great ideas of what we’re looking for.”
In 17 conference games, Choi recorded a conference-best .469 batting average with 30 hits in 64 at-bats. The sophomore doubled seven times, homered twice, scored 20 runs and led the team with 23 runs batted in. Overall, Choi batted .381 (48 for 126) with 36 RBI, 32 runs, nine doubles and four home runs.
Wilkerson posted a 5-1 record in seven games and 34 innings with a 1.85 earned-run average and seven earned runs,15 walks and 34 strikeouts over the course of conference play. Overall, Wilkerson was 11-2 with a 2.83 ERA with 75 strikeouts and 35 walks over 66 2/3 innings.
“The coolest thing about those two guys was the amount of growth and development we saw,” Kocol said. “I think that was a reflection of what the program is definitely about.”
Among the first-team selections were sophomore infielder Lucas Sakay and freshmen outfielders Trent MacKinney and Alex Mills.
Sakay batted .350 (21 for 60), drove in 17 runs, had two home runs and scored 17 runs in conference. He hit .275 (36 for 131) with 25 RBI and 23 runs overall.
MacKinney, who mostly batted lead-off, hit .449 (35 for 78) with 17 RBI, 28 runs scored, two home runs and and eight stolen bases in conference. MacKinney led the team with a .430 average (64 for 149) and ended with 29 RBI, 47 runs scored, 10 doubles, four home runs an three triples
Mills had a .412 average (21 for 51) with 21 hits and 13 RBI in conference, while hitting .330 (25 for 100) with 25 runs, 19 RBI and nine doubles overall.
The second team included right-handed pitchers Gerardo Ramirez and Kevin Holcomb, infielders Hans Seo, gold glove recipient Casey Slattery, Christian Muro, a St. Francis graduate, outfielder and St. Francis grad Brandon Lewis and designated hitter Sammy Martinez.
While Sao batted 380 (52 for 137 with 46 runs, 27 RBI, 10 home runs and 12 doubles, Slattery hit .325 (54 for 166) with a team-best 45 RBI, 38 runs, 12 doubles and eight triples, Muro had a .321 batting average (52 for 162) with 38 RBI, 34 runs and 10 doubles, Lewis hit .296 (40 for 134) with 40 RBI, 39 runs, 11 home runs and nine doubles and Martinez batted .328 (30 for 92) with six home runs and six doubles.
Ramirez started five games in conference and posted a 3-0 record (4-5 overall) in 30 2/3 innings pitched, recorded a 6.16 ERA with 34 hits, 21 earned runs, 34 strikeouts and 20 walks. Holcomb, who did not yield a run in conference, ended with a 6-0 record in 18 appearance and had a 1.80 ERA with 56 strikeouts and 23 walks in 50 total innings.
Sophomore infielder Hayden Luff (.322, with 29 hits, 23 runs, 21 RBI and seven home runs) and sophomore outfielders Tom Tabak (.315 average with 52 hits, 37 runs and 26 RBI) and Fernando Rosales (.277 average, 26 hits, 13 RBI and 13 runs) were all-conference honorable mention.
“When the state polls come out, we were one of the top teams picked, but I think there’s that and there’s actually having to deliver that conference championship, so this sophomore group delivered,” Kocol said. “They showed up and delivered.
“That sophomore group. Back-to-back conference champions. There’s not a lot of those guys around. That’s really a rare feat and it says a lot about their consistency, their discipline, their intuitiveness. And, I think, again, that’s a reflection of the program. We always separate that from the postseason. We want to be consistent.”