In its inaugural season, the South Bay Summer Baseball League is already an instant hit.
“Coaches in the South Bay had been talking about putting together a good summer league for while,” said Alex Morales, an assistant coach to Palos Verdes head coach Evan Fujinaga and the league’s coordinator. Morales also is serving as the Sea Kings head coach in the summer league.
“Evan asked me if I would like to run it, so I said sure. I try to coordinate everything… It’s been good and the games have been real good. The feedback I’ve been getting from the kids and the coaches is good. The kids like it and they know they’re playing for something,” Morales said.
Peninsula coach Dennis Gonsalves agreed.
Bay League coaches discussed forming the league near the end of the regular prep baseball season and quickly put the plan in motion, Gonsalves said. He praised Morales for taking the reigns in running the league, but he added that it was a collective effort of area coaches that made it a reality.
“The camaraderie with all the coaches and players from all the schools has made this summer league a success,” Gonsalves said. “It couldn’t have happened without them. Still, many kudos to Alex Morales for all the work he does and the guidance of Evan Fujinaga.”
The league also will field a winter program later this year. This, in addition to the summer league, will allow local colleges to have more of a chance to evaluate the talent in the South Bay.
The league will showcase much of that talent in an All-Star game Wednesday at Marine Park in Torrance. Game time is 7 p.m.
“It’s a good way to get kids some exposure to some of the colleges,” Morales said of the All-Star game. “The South Bay gets overlooked sometimes. Places like the [San Fernando] Valley and Orange County do stuff like this all the time, so I think it’s great we are now too. We’re trying to get the word out that there’s some talent in the South Bay. We’ve got some great kids playing here.”
Three players from each of the league’s 16 teams will compete in the All-Star game. The South Bay Summer Baseball League features four teams in four divisions:
- Mira Costa, Redondo, Palos Verdes and Peninsula compete in the West;
- South Torrance, Torrance, North and West make up the Central;
- San Pedro, L.A. Harbor, Banning and Gardena are in the East;
- and Loyola, Culver City, El Segundo and Bishop Montgomery play in the North.
Teams play each other in all of the divisions, though Gonsalves said proximity plays a big role. The league will run through July.
A red-hot Mira Costa team, which rolled to a 9-0 mark through Tuesday, has been the cream of the crop so far. The Mustangs, led by coach Cassidy Olson, were the only unbeaten team in league play.
Last week, Mira Costa swept three of the Torrance schools, beating West (13-0), South (4-3) and Torrance (5-4).
“They’ve been on a roll,” Morales said of the Mustangs.
Morales’ club hasn’t been shabby either. Entering the week, the Sea Kings were runners-up to Mira Costa in league with a 5-2 mark. Three players—Patrick Moody, Anthony Collins and Cameron MacLean, all juniors—have sizzled smacking the ball. Moody was batting .619, Collins at .615 and MacLean at .563.
“Those three guys have done a great job,” Morales said.
Redondo has struggled early on, but no one is counting out the Sea Hawks. They’ve gotten strong play from talented first baseman Dylan Hatch, who had a 5-for-5 day this week, Cameron Bennett, who has hit well from the first game on, Matt Esperza and Jake Jiminez.
For Peninsula, sophomore Edward Haus, seniors Ben Laetsch and Michael Green and junior Chase Nakano have led the way for a club, which entered the week at 3-4.
“We’ve been very competitive,” Gonsalves said. “We have 13 seniors to replace, but with the kids in our program, we will field a competitive team in the spring. Our pitching is very inexperienced, but between the summer and winter, the experience will come.”
The league experience as an outlet for the players is the biggest benefit, Gonsalves said. Plus, area fans get a chance to watch some good baseball.
“This is a win-win for everybody involved,” he said. “We’ve got some great talent around here and it’s good to watch these kids compete. It’s also good to get the word out.”