As summer baseball begins to wind down, there is one major weekend tournament left on three Foothill League teams’ schedules: The California Classic.
For nearly 10 years, the California Classic has featured high-level teams from around Southern California, including Valencia and West Ranch. This season, Saugus will join the action.
The Centurions lost 15 players from the 2019 graduating class and have spent the summer rebuilding the team using both returning and new talent.
“For us, it’s just getting better,” head coach Carl Grissom said. “Improving. We’ve got a bunch of new kids so it’s just getting an idea of what they can do with having so many seniors leaving and having all these returning kids come in. It’s a good look for me.”
Last season’s Saugus JV team won league, which is a good indicator, albeit one yet to be tested, for success this summer and later on in spring.
Among the players that have stood out to Grissom this summer is Jaiden Patterson, a pitcher who will be a junior in the coming season.
“He’s pitched really well this summer,” Grissom said. “I’m excited to see what he can do moving forward when we get to the fall and turn into the spring.”
Valencia baseball has debuted two new players this summer in transfers Jakob Marquez and Jake St. Cyr. Both Marquez, who is coming from Hart, and St. Cyr, from Alemany, will not have a sit-out period, according to coach Mike Killinger, because both are moving into the area.
Marquez, a catcher and University of Arizona commit, concluded his junior campaign with the Indians hitting .254 with 11 RBIs and three home runs. As a catcher, he had two errors and allowed 10 passed balls.
He won’t walk into a starting position at Valencia, however, as the Vikings are returning catcher Grant Weiss. Weiss, who is a senior-to-be, hit .251 with 16 RBIs and had one error and 10 passed balls at catcher.
“He’s come over and he’s fit in really well with the guys,” Killinger said of Marquez. “All these guys know each other and they’ve all played together. They all have a good battle and competition, there’s nothing wrong with it.”
St. Cyr will be a junior in the coming season and went 3-4 with a 4.13 ERA last season with the Warriors. His credentials are solid, but he’ll still have to compete for a spot in Valencia’s pitching rotation.
Valencia returns a plethora of arms, including Mitchell Torres and Tyler Robitaille, who were both All-Foothill League first team selections after the 2019 season.
“Our pitching depth has been a nice surprise,” Killinger said. “We’ve had a few guys step up that we didn’t know what their role was going to be, but they fit in. As long as these guys have the right mental approach to the season, I think we should be fairly successful.”
West Ranch is the third Foothill League team that will be competing in the California Classic. The Ranchers are coming off a 4-0 outing at the Buchanan Elite Invitational, which took place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
RJ Gordon, a transfer from Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks led the team in hitting, going 8-for-9 with six RBIs through four games.
The Ranchers are working to rebuild their bullpen and are rotating five starters throughout the summer. Coach Casey Burrill said the pitching staff will be “brand new from top to bottom.”
Saugus, Valencia and West Ranch each have 10 a.m. games on Saturday morning to begin the California Classic, which features a total of 18 teams.
West Ranch plays JSerra at West Ranch, Valencia plays Dana Hills at Valencia and Saugus plays Granada Hills at Saugus.