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Keppel Getting Ready For Season With Youth Movement; Schurr Going With Experience

  • By Shel Segal
022812SEGALsViewXALHAMBRA - The Mark Keppel High baseball team is hoping to improve on a fifth place Almont League a year ago by going with a team full of sophomores, juniors and even a few freshmen.
As eight seniors graduated from the team last season, coach Houston Hernandez said this is the hand he has been dealt and this is the hand he will use.
"We got a lot of young guys out there," Hernandez said. "I don't think we'll be starting any seniors (in defensive positions) this year, just sophomores and juniors."
Hernandez said he's looking for pitching and defense to lead the way, adding he feels he's got a strong pitching staff.
His top pitcher is slated to be right-hander and junior Ruben Mendia.
"He's our power pitcher," Hernandez said of Mendia. "We're expecting him to strike out a lot of guys."
Hernandez is also looking for big things from sophomore Nate Torres, who played catcher the entire season last year.
"He throws a lot of strikes," Hernandez said. "He pitches to contact. He's a ground ball pitcher with a sinker and a change-up."
Also taking the mound should be sophomore Joseph Barajas, who Hernandez said, "is another power guy. He's going to get a lot more fly ball outs."
But how about hitting the ball?
"Our offense is a work in progress," Hernandez said. "We're going to play a lot of small ball. We're going to play for one run a lot."
And there's a reason for that.
"We were in a lot of close games last year," he said. "We didn't have the personnel for winning. But we have five returning freshmen coming back, two as varsity starters."
Sophomore first baseman Brandon Gomez is expected to bat clean up and knock in the runs.
"We're expecting a big season from him," Hernandez said of Gomez. "A lot of doubles. He's a gap-to-gap hitter."
And setting the table should be sophomore second baseman Ivan Berumen, who's batting leadoff.
"We're going to go as he goes," Hernandez said. "We're hoping he gets on."
But Hernandez reiterated the team's dependency on solid pitching and defense to win games.
"As long as our pitching and defense keep us close in ball games, I think we're going to win a lot of games in the end."

IN MORE BASEBALL NEWS, Schurr High is looking to use a very close bunch of upper classmen to return to Almont League supremacy after a 7-12 record in 2011, said coach Ken Marrero.
"We got a lot of seniors, a lot of returning guys," Marrero said. "This is a really close-knit team. That's something I haven't had in a while. They do everything together.
"What I'm hoping for is that closeness carries onto the field and they're not worried about individual stats and they stay as close on the field as off."
Marrero said his guys on the mound will lead the way for the Spartans.
"I think our pitching staff is the strength of our team right now," he said. "My number one (pitcher) and my number two is their third year on varsity."
The number one guy is expected to be right-hander Oscar Sarabia, who was second team all-league a year ago.
Said Marrero: "He has your four basic pitches. What I'm excited about is he's finally healthy."
In addition, Marrero said Sarabia has a fastball, cutter, change up and curveball.
The number two guy is also the shortstop in Jacob Ramirez, a varsity veteran.
"He has a live arm, has good speed, plays good defense," Marrero said of Ramirez.
And the third guy on the mound is a transfer from Los Altos High, Carlos Rivera.
"He's a first year varsity player," Marrero said. "He's a really solid kid."
Marrero also said he's hoping the team improves over last year on defense and offense, as a plethora of errors got in the team's way of winning games last year.
"Offense is something we need to work on and our defense has improved from last year," he said. "We were really poor on defense last year. We hit .365 as a team, but yet we were 7-12. We made a lot of errors."
Also, Marrero said the pitching staff gave up too many runs last year, sporting a 4.83 ERA - not to mention all the unearned runs that were given up. But he feels this year will be different.
"I think there's maturity here," he said. "We're older. Two years ago we took our lumps. Last year we were better, but had the errors. And this year I think it's maturity."
(Shel Segal can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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