All Division 1 teams were previewed. Leagues without a team in Division 1 were not included.
This week, reporter Alex Scarr previews the upstart Marine League as part of his City-wide preview roundup.
You can feel it. The winter chill has given way to a spring thaw, as low 60s turn to high 60s and the heavy coats return to the closet for another 10 months.
Coaches and groundskeepers have been hard at work laying sod, dragging infields, and tarping mounds for months. Baseball season is nearly here.
With just a few days until baseball season begins in earnest (with some early tournaments already underway), it’s as good a time as ever to look around the City Section. Who’s been doing towel drills? Who ran the extra pole? Who wants a trip to Dodger Stadium in June?
Hope springs eternal. Let’s get to it.
Head Coach: John Gonzalez
2018: 25-9 (Lost in Open Division quarterfinals)
Key Losses: Andrew Solorio, Ernie Espinoza, Frank Hernandez
Key Returners: Gabe Gonzalez, Tomas Estrada, Angel Ocegueda
Coach quote: “We should be able to compete for the Marine League Championship and have the opportunity to win games in the playoffs.”
Outlook: Anthony Joya was a revelation last season, shining as the best freshman pitcher in the Section last season. With him anchoring the staff, the Pilots are in good shape to fend off Carson and San Pedro for the Marine League title after sharing it a season ago. The lineup may struggle to score runs after losing their three top hitters (Solorio, Espinoza, Hernandez) but Joya blanked opponents consistently. It’s living on the edge to ask for a gem every time out, but Joya can be that kind of dude.
Head Coach: Steve Manqueros
2018: 25-11 (lost D-1 finals)
Key Losses: Erik Herrera, Lorenzo Roman, Roberto Escobar
Key Returners: JaJa Bellinger, Juan Camarena, Emilio Roman, Nathan Maxwell
Outlook: Baseball at Carson didn’t always go as swimmingly as it did in 2018. A coaching change, several graduations and transfers left the program in dire straits before Coach Manqueros took over. Once he did, the Colts raced to the D-1 title game behind Erik Herrera and Lorenzo Roman. While they lost to Verdugo Hills 4-2 in 9 innings, the Colts made a statement that ought to attract a few more players than in years’ past. They return JaJa Bellinger, Emilio Roman and several others from that 2018 squad and should press Banning and San Pedro again for the Marine League title.
Head Coach: Bill Dillon
2018: 9-25 (lost in D-1 quarterfinals)
Key Losses: Marco Berrera, Andrew Rodriguez
Key Returners: Julio Camarena, Chris Vega, Andrew Quintero
Coach quote: “With three to four freshmen and three sophomores starting the majority of the season in 2018, we're excited to begin 2019 with returning varsity experience to compete for a league and city title.”
Outlook: Don’t be fooled by the Gauchos’ poor record in 2018. Their top hitters, Julio Camarena, Chris Vega, and Andrew Quintero, were freshmen last year. After a rough start to the year, Narbonne hung with Carson during league play and beat North Hollywood. Even their losses were often by a run or two, leaving many to wonder if this ‘19 squad will sneak up on teams. They knocked out a senior-heavy Hamilton team in the first round of the playoffs last year, and should be getting better.
Head Coach: Steve Tedesco
2018: 13-17 (lost in Open Division first round)
Key Losses: Roger Barajas, Daniel Lopez, Matthew Marquez
Key Returners: Travis Connelly, Anthony Scognamillo, Josh Duarte
Coach quote: “We’ve got a great group of young men who love each other, love the game, and love to compete.”
Outlook: Coach Tedesco said this was “the most excited about a group I’ve been in my 6 years at San Pedro.” He acknowledged this team will be young, with just one senior starter, but he praised the team’s defensive abilities and athleticism. They also return Marine League MVP Travis Connelly and All-League selections Anthony Scognamillo and Josh Duarte. The Pirates fell to San Fernando in extras in the first round of the Open Division last year, and could certainly be a fringe team again this year. But something tells me if Coach Tedesco is this excited about a team full of sophomores, they’re only going to be more fearsome in a few years.