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On the beat: Canyon not as bad as its record

Posted: April 21, 2014 10:31 p.m.
Updated: April 21, 2014 10:31 p.m.

Canyon's Jon Dicey has a 2.16 ERA but the Cowboys are having trouble backing him up with any offense.

 

Editor’s note: We introduce “On the beat” today with the first edition being baseball. On the beat will feature news, information and insight about the sports we cover on a regular basis (prep, college, pro) by the reporters who are considered our “beat reporter” for a particular sport. We feature seven sports during the spring so you will see one of these reports from a different sport every day until the end of the season.

One season removed from winning a co-Foothill League championship, its first title in 11 years, Canyon baseball appears to not be a contender for the crown this season based off its 1-6 league record.

The Cowboys already trail first-place Hart by five games with eight to play in the Foothill.

But despite Canyon’s record and seemingly a fall from the top of the mountain, the Cowboys aren’t a bad team.

The Cowboys were swept by Hart in the season series, losing two games by a combined three runs.

Canyon has lost four Foothill games by two runs or less.

The difference for the Cowboys is they’re not hitting like the Foothill League’s other teams — a .251 batting average and a paltry .322 slugging percentage means they’re not getting enough hits and not getting enough extra-base hits to back the solid pitching of senior Jon Dicey (2.16 ERA) and junior Blake Leidholdt (2.29 ERA/0.722 Walks + Hits per Innings Pitched).

Those two are a combined 3-7 and have allowed a combined 13 unearned runs.

Speaking of pitching, that’s what the Foothill League has been defined by this season.

Foothill teams have scored three runs or less 62 percent of the time in league play.

Poor Golden Valley has scored three runs just once and has been shut out twice.

Canyon has been shut out three times.

Valencia — as expected, has been the most offensive team, averaging exactly seven runs per game.

Saugus has been the best pitching team, having allowed 13 runs in league play ( 1.9 runs per game).

The Centurions are establishing themselves as a long-term Foothill League title threat — solely based on their pitching.

Four juniors have started on the mound for Saugus thus far and all are juniors — Chase Wheatcroft, Eric Little, Caden Maher and Anthony Donatella.

Two starters have been particulalrly impressive — Donatella and Little.

Donatella, whose older brother Justin was the Foothill League Pitcher of the Year in 2012, has allowed two earned runs in 27 2/3 innings this season. Little has a 2.29 ERA overall.

What’s particularly interesting about the pitchers is that they’ve been effective without being particularly dominant.

Donatella’s WHIP is 1.482 and his strikeouts per seven innings rate is 5.2.

Little has a 1.215 WHIP and 6.7 strikeouts per seven innings.

They get light-hitting Canyon this week.

Extra points: In our Foothill League preview, we had this as our prediction for a final finish:
1. Hart
2. Valencia
3. Canyon
4. West Ranch
5. Saugus
6. Golden Valley.

On a weekly basis we will rank teams based off who we think is the best in the valley. This week’s are:
1. Valencia
2. Hart
3. Saugus
4. West Ranch
5. Canyon
6. Golden Valley

The key matchup this week is Hart vs. Valencia with Valencia hosting on Wednesday and Hart hosting on Friday.

The series will spotlight two 2014 breakout performers — Valencia junior first baseman Devon Davis and Hart junior pitcher Paul Richan.

Davis is in his third varsity season and in years past has looked overpowered at times.

Not only has he been one of the valley’s top power hitters thus far, he’s been one of its top hitters and a player whose development is getting more and more fun to watch.

Richan has been fantastic this season with a 2.06 ERA. Once he gets his walks under control, he will be a dominant high school pitcher.

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