Tag Archives: Baseball Preview

Burbank, Burroughs Baseball Both Set Sights High

By Rick Assad


It happens every spring, but there is still nothing sweeter than the sound of a baseball bat hitting a ball.

For Burbank High and Burroughs, the nonleague season is nearly over as the Bulldogs went 2-5 after games in the Easton Tournament, Quartz Hill tourney and Babe Herman Tournament, while the Indians are 6-6 after playing in the same tourneys.

The Pacific League is set to begin next week when the Bulldogs visit Arcadia on March 27 and the Indians host Glendale on the same day.

Burbank’s infield huddles after Coach Bob Hart makes a pitching change in a recent nonleague game against Chatsworth. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank welcomes longtime city rival Burroughs on May 8 and visits the Indians on May 11.

The Bulldogs, who went 15-10 and 10-4 in league for third place, advanced to the second round of the CIF Southern Section playoffs in 2017.

Burbank is talented and deep, but not overly experienced.

That’s just one reason for the substandard nonleague record and that the team played very good teams.

But Burbank Coach Bob Hart believes this will make his squad that much better when the league portion of the schedule commences.

“We want to play as many good teams as we can, even if we’re not going to win many games because it’s going to help us when the Pacific League comes around,” he said. “I could schedule teams I know we can beat, but in the long run that’s not really going to help us.”

Burbank’s infield includes senior first baseman Abiezer Delgado, while sophomore Jacob Duarte will also see time at first base.

Senior first baseman Nathan Palafox takes the throw in a nonleague match versus Northview. (Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Junior Matthew Porras, junior Kenny Won and sophomore Daniel Ruiz will spend time at second base.

Senior Max Meltzer will play shortstop, junior Davis Mieliwocki will patrol third base and senior Matt Shaugabay will be the catcher.

The Bulldogs’ outfield will have senior Matt Moreno in left field and center field, sophomore Oakley Spens will toil in center field while junior Andrew De La Torre will play right field, as will Duarte.

Senior Austin Ortega, along with juniors Trent Anderson, Cody Winters, Vincent Romano and Geovork Leklyan will also spend time in the outfield.

The pitching staff is filled with reliable arms and they include Porras, Ruiz, junior Joey Clark, De La Torre, Mieliwocki and Shaugabay, who will be the closer.

The Indians are coming off a season in which they went 14-13 and 8-6 in the league, but lost 2-1 in the opening round of the CIF playoffs to Santa Barbara.

Senior catcher Matt Shaugabay is a key cog offensively and defensively for the Bulldogs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“Although young in the middle infield and more juniors than seniors on the team, I feel we can be competitive with anyone in the league,” Burroughs coach Craig Sherwood said.

The pitching staff is deep and will be led by junior Nicco Chuidian, who had some stellar moments in 2017.

Seniors Steven Gonzalez, Brandon Ortega and Joe Metcalf will add needed depth for Sherwood, who stresses defense and pitching as major priorities.

Junior submarine artist Xavier Dubon hopes to be a starting pitcher while juniors Andres Salazar and Brandon Aguilar will battle it out for the closer’s role.

The infield is solid and somewhat young and includes senior and captain Nathan Palafox at first base.

Burroughs senior Brandon Ortega, seen in a recent game against Northview, is one of many pitchers Coach Craig Sherwood has at his disposal. (Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Junior Collin Johnson will be the designated hitter and the backup first baseman.

Sophomore Brian Garcia will play shortstop and sophomore Devin Esquivel will see action at second base.

Seniors Brandon Giraldo and Gonzalez will play third base and junior Julian Jaramillo will also see time at the position.

According to Sherwood, whoever hits the most effective, will see the majority of the time at the position.

Behind the plate will be senior Matthew Diaz and Jaramillo, and once again, whoever hits with the authority, will spend most of the time behind the plate.

Senior Revin Diego, who played extremely well during the winter according to Sherwood, will play left field.

Chuidian and junior Michael Le will battle for time in center field, senior Andrew Jacob Barrera will patrol left field, while junior Dylan Rolando and Salazar will also see action in left field.



JBHS and BHS Eager for First Pitch

The season can’t get here soon enough for two teams coming off disappointing 2011 campaigns for two very different reasons. Burbank High struggled in transitioning to a new program philosophy, while Burroughs High made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Things will be different this season and so without further ado, here is a snapshot of what to look for on the baseball diamond this season.


Burbank High Head Coach Bob Hart

Last season, the Bulldogs went 12-15 overall and 6-8 in the Pacific League, finishing fifth and missing out on the postseason after two consecutive seasons of participating in the playoffs. Coach Bob Hart feels a little bit like Goldilocks heading into the 2012 season with the thoughts that things are finally, “just right.”

“I just feel the program is healthier than it has ever been from top-to-bottom,” he says. “The guys have really bought into the changes we’ve tried to make and I feel like we have committed kids, the right guys in place and that we lack any drama — which is a good thing.”

Specifically, he credits an emphasis on defense, improved practice routines and a deeper coaching staff that includes Craig Sherwood, Tommy Perez and Tony Sandoval — all names that crosstown rival Burroughs is very familiar with.

Sherwood, although best known for his days coaching alongside Scott Muckey at Crespi was also a longtime assistant for the Indians. Perez holds nearly every Burroughs offensive record and Sandoval was the No. 2 starter on the 1997 Foothill League championship Burroughs team.

Dylan Mersola

Hart also saw Sherwood recruit assistant Dean Benevidez, a former Celts’ standout who grew up in the Burbank area then won a CIF Championship in his time at Crespi where he was a star.

“My ego is not big, I can give credit where credit is do,” Hart said. “Craig has brought in his system and made some real positive changes to the way we do things and he brought in some staff to help with that.”

Paul Frias

Hart is equally excited about what he has returning on his squad. Dylan Mersola, a 2nd team All-Pacific League selection who plays shortstop, showcases one of the best swings in the Pacific League. Also back is catcher Paul Frias, who Hart says is currently showing a consistent sub 2.0 pop-time and who hit close to .450 between summer and winter league games this off-season.

“I realize numbers in the off-season don’t mean a thing, “Hart said. “However, we were really excited with the consistency from Paul. He has a chance to be pretty special.”

Senior pitchers Andrew Hernandez, a submariner, and Daniel Starkand figure to the 1-2 in the rotation for the Bulldogs. Newcomers Angel Villagran, a transfer from Burroughs who is also a third basemen, and Harrison Hernandez, a corner guy, will also pitch. Hart believes Hernandez could close.

The Bulldogs kick-off their season in the Easton Tournament and will see El Camino Real and Moorpark in their first two games. They open league with a tough week at Pasadena and at Crescenta Valley the final week of March.

Hart acknowledges that CV will be the odds on favorite in the Pacific League.

“Two guys throwing above 90 (miles per hour), they’ve gotta be,” he said. “After that it is simply survival of the fittest, several teams could surprise and every team can be beat.” His team belongs in both those categories too, he says.


Burroughs Head Varsity Coach Kiel Holmes

Kiel Holmes picked a challenge for his first coaching gig, a Burroughs team healing from a forgettable 2011 season in which its season cut short. The Indians forfeited their last nine games following an incident on a Spring Break Trip in Arizona. However, many feel the Burroughs-alum is the right guy to return the program to better times, Holmes included.

“I just feel like there is a right way to do it in high school baseball and that I played in a program that did it the right way,” he said. “We have emphasized this again because it is really the only way to win games.”

Specifically, Holmes preaches an emphasis on small-ball, base running, getting a guy to second and bringing him home and playing pitch and catch — all things that had been forgotten the last two seasons but points of emphasis when the Indians had their best teams 2007-2009 and 1996-2002 averaging nearly 17 wins per season in each of those eras.

Burroughs was 6-8-1 when its season was cut short last season and 12-15 the prior year when it got away from those basics. So despite a senior heavy team, few will recognize these Indians as they get their identity back this season under a former Indian.

“We’ve had talent, but it just didn’t work” Holmes said. “I like my team a lot and I give the guys all the credit for standing tall after what they went through. I also give them a lot of credit for buying into what we want them to do — they are going to surprise people this season.”

Dylan Goldsack

Position battles and competition has been the theme since Holmes accepted the position in November after Coach Eddie Alvarez came and went like a meteorite — fired for inconsistent leadership. Holmes feels six players are competing for three spots — Ryan Gordon, Stewart Alexander, Eli Peppmuller, Matt Kelsey, Dylan Goldsack and Zander Anding.

Each bring something different to the table with Gordon showing the best arm, Anding and Peppmuller the best range. The infield is also a logjam, but in a good way. Brian Pozos, Luis Pereya and Myles Haddad play-up the middle and can rotate around as necessary when Pereya pitches — which he will do plenty of.

Christian Garia

Dillon Disiere will likely also see plenty of innings on the mound, and will also play third base. Nate Borgard has plenty of upside and Daniel Baraza, a lengthy lefty, has established himself in Holmes eyes in recent months.

“I like how he has learned to hold runners and how he can throw three pitches anywhere in the count,” Holmes said.

A now healthy Christian Garia should provide plenty of offense and play first base while Chris Davies and Chris Peale compete for time at catcher. Peale’s bat also makes him a candidate for the designated hitter role.

“I feel like I am still getting caught-up to speed after coming in late, but I also really like what we have here,” Holmes said. “I have enough depth that I can play the hot bat and not lose anything on the other end.”


Really tough reads for both teams, even as familiar as I am with most of the names on the field and the coaching staffs. Burbank and Burroughs both make the playoffs this season with 13-16 wins overall and 10 league wins. Who finishes ahead of who comes down to the season series played on April 20 and May 11 this season. Like I said, I know too many guys in each dugout to make that prediction.