Angel Rodriguez leads Glendale Community College baseball conference honorees

Looking to jump start his career, Angel Rodriguez left Cal State Northridge for an opportunity to join the Glendale Community College baseball team.

Rodriguez, who spent last season as a redshirt at CSUN, sought the chance to receive more individual attention while looking to improve his overall pitching skills.

Turns out things worked fine for Rodriguez, who helped the Vaqueros win their third Western State Conference South Division championship in a row and was tabbed the division’s pitcher of the year.

“I wanted to come to GCC so I could better myself academically and on the field,” said Rodriguez, a freshman right-hander who went 8-3 in 14 appearances. “I also built a great relationship with [Glendale Coach Chris Cicuto] and the coaching staff worked with me on a lot of things to keep getting better.

“I came into the season feeling a little unsure about myself. Then I settled in and set my goals and hopped on the roller coaster and things just took off from there. It’s great to win the award. I’m ready to come back and attack next year.”

Glendale finished 27-13 and 19-5 in the division before topping Grossmont College in the Southern California Regionals. The Vaqueros were then eliminated in the super regionals.

Rodriguez also earned a spot on the South Division’s first team after striking out 57 in 79 2/3 innings to finish with a 2.26 earned-run average. He allowed 27 runs (20 earned) and was one of six Vaqueros to receive first-team honors.

Cicuto, who was named the division’s coach of the year, said Rodriguez exceeded expectations.

“He came in and pitched well the whole season,” Cicuto said. “He seemed to get stronger and better with each outing.

“He’s dedicated and he showed he could be the best. He deserves to get the honor. Plus, we still have him for next year.”

Joining Rodriguez on the first team are Pepe Marquez, Justin Jones, Chris Whitmer, Austin Walker and Spencer Jack.

Marquez, a sophomore shortstop, batted .336 (36 for 107) with 22 runs and 24 runs batted in.

Jones, a freshman outfielder, batted a robust .345 (30 for 87) and drove in 13 runs.

Whitmer hit .257 (28 for 109) with four home runs and 20 runs batted in. The sophomore utility player stole 10 bases and scored 23 runs.

Walker, a sophomore designated hitter, batted .248 (32 for 129) with two home runs and 19 runs batted in.

Jack, a sophomore reliever, finished with two saves in 16 appearances and struck out 27 in 25 innings.

Cicuto said each player added a dimension to the Vaqueros.

“Pepe was given the opportunity and he ran with it by playing good defense and getting some big hits,” Cicuto said. “Justin stepped in [after starting center fielder] Jay Sheeley got hurt and was our spark plug.

“Chris showed he could do a lot of things well and was very valuable. Austin got a lot of big hits and was a real tough out. Spencer was a luxury to have because he was our go-to stopper.”

Earning spots on the second team were Edgar Montes, Julian Jarrard and Tei Vanderford.

Montes, a sophomore outfielder, batted .262 (38 for 145) with eight doubles, three home runs and 20 runs batted in. He stole 11 bases and scored 28 runs.

Jarrard, a sophomore catcher/infielder, hit .231 (36 for 156) with nine doubles and 26 runs batted in. He hit a pair of home runs and scored 22 runs.

Vanderford, a freshman pitcher and St. Francis High graduate, finished 5-3 in 12 appearances. The right-hander struck out 41 and allowed 10 earned runs in 54 2/3 innings while posting a tidy 1.65 ERA.

Glendale pitchers Keaton Leach, Gary Acuna and Jason Kim received honorable mention.

Leach, a freshman starter, went 5-1 and struck out 23 in 41 1/3 with a 3.86 ERA. Acuna, a freshman reliever, finished 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA and struck out 31 in 46 2/3. Kim, a sophomore reliever, struck out 14 in 19 2/3 and tallied a 2.29 ERA.

The Vaqueros also had two players receive Gold Glove awards for their defensive contributions.

Sophomore second baseman Sergio Plasencia registered 96 assists and had a .988 fielding percentage. Marquez finished with 112 assists and posted a .953 fielding percentage.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World