COC baseball earns major postseason recognition

College of the Canyons baseball players Anthony Lepre (55), Anthony Medina (20), Ivan Lomeli (2) and Wes Felber (9) greet center fielder Cole Kleszcz at home plate moments after he hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning of a 6-5 loss to Santa Ana College on March 2. Jesse Munoz/COC Sports Information

Between Cole Kleszcz, Justin Dehn, Anthony Lepre and head coach Chris Cota, College of the Canyons baseball is swimming in postseason awards.

Kleszcz, a center fielder, was named 2017 Player of the Year and Dehn was tabbed as Pitcher of the Year for the All-Western State Conference, East Division.

Kleszcz led the state with 18 home runs at the conclusion of the season and led all Canyons batters in batting average (.410), runs (60), RBIs (46) and on-base percentage (.495).

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Additionally, he was named to the 2017 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABVA)/Rawlings Pacific Association Division (PAD) All-American First Team, the ABCA/PAD Southern California All-Region First Team and the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association (CCCBCA) Southern California All-State Team.

He also was the recipient of the CCCBCA Southern California ‘Big Stick’ Award, which goes to the top offensive player in the region.

In 87 innings, Dehn paced the Cougars on the mound with a 2.79 ERA, recording 72 strikeouts in the process. He threw two complete games and allowed 27 runs.

The righty was also named to the 2017 ABCA/PAD All-American Third Team list, the CCCBCA Southern California All-State Team and the ABCA/PAD Southern California All-Region First Team.

College of the Canyons’ Cole Kleszcz (15) watches the ball as he hits a double in the first inning against East Los Angeles at COC. Dan Watson/The Signal

Cota was named Coach of the Year for the WSC, East Division and eight other players were named to the All-WSC, East Division team.

Anthony Lepre, Calvin Estrada, Chris May and Jacob Lopez were each named first team. Kris Keach, Senituli Taufahema, Chase Wheatcroft and Connor Dreyer are all second-teamers.

“I think it’s a great honor,” said the UC Riverside-bound Lepre. “It makes you feel good, that’s for sure. Honestly, it’s just, I like to play baseball and to get something out of it feels good, definitely.”

Lepre batted .337 on the season with 45 RBIs en route to CCCBCA Southern California All-State honors and ABCA/PAD Southern California All-Region first-team honors.

He said that his time with the Cougars helped make him a better player.

“For sure playing there helped me,” he said. “… Being around the group of guys we had I was able to become a better leader on and off the field.”

This season, the Cougars won their first conference championship since 2009, marking Cota’s fifth title.

The team was ranked 20th in the state in the final California Community College Sports Information Association poll with an overall record of 28-14.

Signal Sports Editor Mason Nesbitt contributed reporting to this story. 

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