Oaks Christian's Phil Bickford, who has committed to Cal State Fullerton,… (Christian Quolas )
At the midway point in the high school baseball season, having a dominant pitcher remains the most important ingredient for teams aspiring to become champions in June at Dodger Stadium.
This was supposed to be the year of the pitcher, and lots of pitchers are coming through with big-time performances.
Shane Watson of Lakewood and Chase DeJong of Long Beach Wilson continue to make themselves rising pro prospects. Max Fried of Studio City Harvard-Westlake has more than filled the void for the absence of the injured Lucas Giolito.
Kyle Twomey of Placentia El Dorado, Art Moran-Vidrio of Orange Lutheran, Trevor Charpie of San Juan Capistrano Valley JSerra, James Kaprielian of Irvine Beckman and Ty Moore of Santa Ana Mater Dei are delivering top performances in Orange County.
Justin Garza of La Verne Bonita and Luke Eubank of Newbury Park have been close to unbeatable. JC Cloney of Valencia West Ranch is 5-1 with a 1.26 earned-run average.
Then there are the surprise standouts. Phil Bickford of Westlake Village Oaks Christian, a junior, struck out 15 batters in games against Long Beach Wilson and Ojai Nordhoff. He has a scholarship to Cal State Fullerton.
"I think he's a terrific pitcher," Wilson Coach Andy Hall said. "He's got a 90-plus fastball with a slider he throws on command. He kept us off balance. He's going to be real good."
Said Bickford: "I'm pretty calm. Nothing really fazes me."
Senior Cody Thompson of Mission Hills Alemany is 6-0 with an 0.88 ERA. Sophomore Alonzo Garcia of San Fernando is 8-0 with an 0.91 ERA. Junior Chasen Ford of Lake Forest El Toro is 7-0 with a 1.32 ERA. Junior Angel Landazuri of Redlands is 5-0 with an 0.68 ERA. Senior Isaac Horigan of Ventura Buena is 7-1 with a 1.15 ERA. Junior Jason Karkenny of Chatsworth is 6-0 with a 1.09 ERA.
Agoura turns it around
There's no doubt that Agoura is a stunning success story at midseason. The Chargers are 10-2-1 and unbeaten in the Marmonte League. This is the same program that two years ago, when its coach, Dennis Reitz, resigned, he said of the parents, "They're so out of control."
In came Mike Cordero, a former junior college assistant.
"The program was in dire straits," Cordero said. "It was a dysfunctional family. Kids weren't serious and there were a lot of parent issues."
After a 10-16 season last year, Cordero sent his juniors to a positive coaching alliance seminar.
"They've been outstanding leaders," he said. "It's kind of spread. It's been a real good experience. The chemistry is outstanding. We have 18 kids on the roster, and they're still battling for jobs."
Alta Loma is 12-3 and tied for first place in the Baseline League with Glendora. Malibu is 12-3 and battling Ventura St. Bonaventure and Oaks Christian for first place in theTri-ValleyLeague. Los Angeles University is 20-3 and 6-0 in the Western League.
Let's hear it for Timmy Robinson of Huntington Beach Ocean View. He was the most valuable player in the Golden West League for football and now he's batting .525 with six home runs for the baseball team.
David Hill's record for Orange El Modena is 3-2, but I don't think many opposing coaches look forward to facing him. Hill lost to Long Beach Wilson, 3-2, and Anaheim Esperanza, 1-0. His ERA is 0.59. He's going to be one of those pitchers that come playoff time you don't want to face in a first-round Division 1 game.
Infielder Jagger Rusconi of Valencia West Ranch is batting .387 and displaying skills far better than most freshmen. L.A. Cathedral has two freshmen with bright futures, infielder Willie Aguilar and pitcher Bryan Duenas. Duncan McKinnon of Gardena Serra is hitting .467. Third baseman Sam Shaikin of Chatsworth is batting .389.