By Freddy Monares
With the misfortune of not having a home field to practice on, the East Los Angeles College baseball team made the state playoffs with a 22-13 overall record and a 13-8 record in South Coast Conference play.
Postseason plans were cut short for the Huskies, losing two weekends ago in the first round of the playoff series to Palomar College.
“We had a shot at getting into the super regionals winning the first game on Friday.
“Saturday didn’t work out for us. They just played a lot better and jumped on us early a couple of times, which really took us out of what we’re able to do,” said Head Coach James Hines.
The Huskies made it into the playoffs seeded 12th without a permanent practice field. Their season consisted of jumping around from field to field in the surrounding areas of ELAC in order to get good practices in.
“Our guys played extremely well and dealt with adversity about as well as anybody could deal with adversity, being in the situation that they are in,” said Hines.
The player’s statistics hold true to Hines’s statement. Pitcher Chris Reyes, Relief Pitcher Gerardo Arias,
Catcher Frank Martinez, Infielder Ruben Ramirez and Outfielder Kevin Jones were all honored by being named to the All-South Coast Conference First Team.
Infielder and returning freshman Ruben Ramirez had the best season out of all the athletes on the team according to Coach Hines.
“He was an outfielder for us, but because of an ineligibility situation with one of the kids we were counting on, he ended up being forced into playing second base,” said Hines. “He took to the role and did an outstanding job for us.”
With a batting average of .343 and a fielding percentage of .957, Ramirez is the player Coach Hines is looking to carry the Huskies next season.
Leaving the team this season are Outfielder Ricardo Arias, Infielder Arnold Banuelos, Jones, Martinez, Infielder Junstin McFarland, Infielder Martin Rodriguez and Infielder-Outfielder Andy Salcido.
ELAC will also need to re-build their bullpen because also leaving the team are Pitchers Gerardo Arias, Calvin Chambers, Louis Macias, Jose Medina, Reyes, Jon Paul Salazar and Jesse Silva.
Ricardo Arias and Medina made the All-South Coast Conference Second Team this season. Martinez and Jones earned Gold Glove awards for their season.
“Day in and day out, our guys focused on baseball and not the field situation or anything like that… They just went about doing their business, and it shows the type of character that they had in dealing with that and hitting some bumps in the road,” said Hines.
Hines looks to the off-season to recruit new talent for next season’s team.
“The ability to recruit some guys that are big players and bring them in here is going to be huge,” said Hines.
Unfortunately, a home field at the main campus is not guaranteed for next season’s recruits. The team could be looking at playing all of next season’s games on the road if construction does not occur by October.
“(We’re) waiting out and seeing what is going to happen to our field. See what our people here are going to decide on that,” said Hines.
Field or no field, the Huskies are ready to take the intensity that the team has created this season into next season.
“No matter what, we are still going to practice, we’re still going to work on stuff, we’re still going to get guys to figure out what we’re doing here with the whole instructional and teaching aspect of what we do in our program.
“If it takes longer for them to figure it out, it takes longer for them to figure it out,” said Hines.