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On the Beat Baseball: Pieces in place for a title

Posted: June 2, 2014 10:46 p.m.
Updated: June 2, 2014 10:46 p.m.

Santa Clarita Christian freshman pitcher Noah Dent throws during a CIF-Southern Section Division VII quarterfinal game against Riverside Prep on Friday.

 

We’re going all over the place on this one, so stay with us.

Prep baseball season is over in the Santa Clarita Valley after Santa Clarita Christian lost on Friday to Riverside Prep in the CIF-Southern Section Division VII quarterfinals.

Valencia lost on Tuesday in the Division I second round to No. 1 seeded JSerra in an extra-inning 6-5 loss.

The common bond with both is that both were winnable games.

The Cardinals surrendered five runs in the first inning, made six errors and had the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh.

Valencia was up 5-3 going into the bottom of the eighth inning before surrendering three runs on one play to end the game.

Both losses bring up an interesting point.

For a valley so rich in baseball, we still only have two CIF championships — Hart in 1999 and SCCS in 2004.

Are we closer?

Yes in one sense and no in the other.

The SCCS Cardinals will go into 2015 with the best chance of winning a title of any team we’ve seen in the valley in the last five years.

The Cardinals have freshmen who weren’t afraid to swing the bat and a freshman pitcher who is not afraid to challenge batters.

That freshman — Noah Dent — is the key to a 2015 run.

However, the question with Dent until he graduates high school is: Will he stay at SCCS?

Other prominent athletes have left the school for bigger notoriety and better competition — Valencia’s Jared Clark and Hart’s Michael Montgomery being two who ended up leaving the school for Foothill League teams and eventually playing baseball professionally.

SCCS head coach Garrick Moss realizes that Dent could be tempted.

“It’s up to them. But the families that are here (at SCCS) are here for a bigger reason,” Moss said.

The Christian environment, smaller classes and opportunity for more playing time are three.

But now Dent has another reason — his team could win a CIF title.

“We have a shot,” Moss said of 2015. “We had 14 guys, nine freshmen.”

As for Valencia and the Foothill League, next year should be the final test on whether or not these teams belong in the Division I playoffs.

Saugus, Canyon, Valencia and Hart will each have at least two stellar arms in their pitching rotation — key No. 1 to postseason success.

If these teams fall flat, a move to Division II should be considered (although 2017 is the soonest that can happen).

West Ranch was a semifinalist in 2012 in Division I and the Foothill teams can certainly hang with the others. The bottom line is they don’t win the big one.

The Foothill coaches have a lot of pride in playing in Division I, and playing with the best, but it might be time to swallow that pride and have a better opportunity of bringing home some plaques.

Speaking of the Foothill League’s coaches, they selected the All-Foothill League team and got one thing very right.

The Foothill League Player of the Year always goes to a player from the Foothill champion.

However, this season it went to Valencia’s Keston Hiura — who hit nine home runs and batted .540 in league play.

They also got the Pitcher of the Year in Saugus’ Anthony Donatella right.

A couple of weeks ago, Saugus head coach John Maggiora was saying how it’s ludicrous that Donatella hasn’t received more attention from four-year colleges.

He’s not big. He’s not a hard thrower.

But he gets the job done.

Donatella has excellent command of his breaking pitches, keeps the ball on the ground and pitches smart.

Another Saugus pitcher did that in the past.

His name is Tommy Milone.

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