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Virgen: Lemmerman highlights special day for CdM Baseball

Jake Lemmerman's description of his own life may seem contradicting, but it's true. The former Corona del Mar High star baseball player said his life is crazy, yet simple.

In a couple weeks Lemmerman will be headed to Peoria, Ariz. for spring training as part of the San Diego Padres.

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His life is crazy with the responsibility to maintain a training schedule, but it's also simple in that he has returned to his roots and has been working out with the CdM baseball team.

The pressure of being a pro can be intense, but Lemmerman has found a nice balance by sometimes practicing with the Sea Kings.

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While he trains with CdM, he doesn't hesitate to lend advice or help in a certain way. One of the greatest baseball players to ever come out of the Newport-Mesa area can only be an asset.

There can be a simplicity about returning to your roots. Lemmerman has discovered that.

That was many of the reasons for celebration and for honoring Lemmerman, as he was inducted into the CdM Baseball Hall of Fame Feb. 21.

It was a meaningful day for the CdM baseball program and Coach John Emme. The day began with an alumni baseball game and ended with a ceremony at The Winery in Newport Beach.

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Lemmerman, along with Josh Bradbury, Blake Contant, Barrett Sprowl and Mark Hatfield (1999), as well as the 2004 CIF Southern Section championship team were inducted into the Sea Kings' Hall of Fame for baseball.

Lemmerman, Bradbury, Contant and Sprowl were a part of that 2004 championship team, that also included Cory Azzalino, Eric Eadington, Parker Ferguson, Mitch Folks, Andy Frankiel, Aaron Harper, Ryan Kelly, Ryan Lance, Tyler Lance, Todd Macklin, Ben Maggard, Dan Marin-Finn, Nick Palchikoff, Wes Presson, Tyler Ray, Jerritt Thayer and Dan Whitaker.

"This is awesome," Lemmerman said as he sat at his table at The Winery. "This brings back a lot of memories. I'm honored to be here. I've never been to the Winery before. It's a beautiful setting for this ceremony and to see the players I played with. It was a full day event with them. It was a really fun day."

To be safe, Lemmerman didn't play in the alumni game. But his team won without him.

The team of players from 2003-2014 won, 12-2, against the team that included players from 2002 to as old as 1971. The older team included Lemmerman's brother Nate Lemmerman, who was on CdM's 1999 CIF Southern Section championship team.

The brothers aren't the only siblings that have CIF titles within the CdM program. Harper and his older brother, Ty (1999), also hold that distinction.

Aaron Harper is a junior varsity assistant coach.

"Every time we get back together it's like the old days," Aaron Harper said. "The way we click, the pitching and the hitting, the camaraderie is there. It's just great memories to share. It was a good win we put together."

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Both dugouts were filled with players at the alumni game. The stands were filled with current players and several parents from past and present. They all ate hamburgers and hot dogs.

Emme said it was the greatest turnout in the annual event. You could easily notice that Feb. 21 was a meaningful day for Emme.

"It's almost like a dad and his kids," Emme said. "You don't realize how quick 19 years goes. It's so great to see so many guys that I haven't seen for years."

Emme called Feb. 21, "an emotional, but amazing day."

It was a day to celebrate champions.

Hatfield was a big part of that 1999 championship team. Emme described Hatfield as the player who worked the hardest in all his years.

He was also a part of a team that Emme described as tenacious. At The Winery, Emme explained to those in attendance that the team united because of the players' disdain for their coach. But it was a way for the team to come together.

"We were crazy," Hatfield said. "We didn't take [nonsense] from anyone."

Emme can only smile now when he thinks of that 1999 team. The 2004 championship team consisted of elite defense and sound hitting. Jake Lemmerman played on the team as a freshman.

"It was the easiest coaching year I ever had," Emme said of his 2004 team. "I told them, 'I'm not your coach anymore I'm your manager. I taught you everything you know.' They just went out and won."

Contant, with his pitching, was a big part of that. He went 12-2 with four wins and a save in the playoffs.

Remarkable.

"It was a very big honor," Contant said of being inducted into the CdM Baseball Hall of Fame. "I played with so many good players that I grew up with. We all came together our senior year. And we put together arguably the best team in CdM history. It's hard to believe it was 11 years ago. Some memories I'll never forget. Some of the guys I keep in touch with."

Marin-Finn was the best man in Contant's wedding less than a year ago. Most of the players keep in touch with each other.

Other players reconnected on Feb. 21. It was a day to compete, yet have some fun.

The classic argument is which CdM team was better, 2004 or 1999. But there was hardly any arguing on Feb. 21, mostly celebrating.

"It's definitely a win already just to be back in my old baseball pants," said Alex Bottom, who was on the 1999 championship team.

Bottom said he enjoyed reconnecting with former teammates.

Some of the current players also enjoyed the day. Justin Hess, a senior pitcher, said it was cool to watch his father, Dan (Class of 1981), play in the alumni game.

"Everyone is reflecting what it was like to play baseball here," Justin Hess said. "I can't wait to do it after I graduate. This program is awesome."

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