Inland Area Prep Baseball Top 10

PRESEASON 2012

1. Riverside North — The reigning CIF-Southern Section Division I champions are a year wiser — if not a year better — and should be considered serious favorites to repeat. The Huskies’ do-everything man of the moment, senior Justin Gheorghe (6-foot, 190 pounds), will patrol the outfield and hit toward the top of Coach Steve Madril’s lineup.
LAST SEASON: 27-7
LAST RANKED: No. 1.
LAST GAME: def. Anaheim Esperanza, 7-1, in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 championship game on June 3, 2011.
NEXT PITCH: vs. Victor Valley at Redlands Invitational on FRIDAY.

2. Redlands — The Terriers had among the most potent offenses in the Inland Area last season, finishing second among qualifying schools with 240 runs. Coach Estevan Valencia’s roster is full of juniors and seniors, led by senior INF/OF Brian Ruhm (6-foot-2, 170 pounds), who hit .458 with eight triples, 31 RBI and 10 SBs in 2011.
LAST SEASON: 24-5
LAST RANKED: No. 2.
LAST GAME: lost, 3-2, to No. 4 Rancho Cucamonga Etiwanda in a CIF-SS D2 quarterfinal game on May 27, 2011.
NEXT PITCH: vs. MoVal Rancho Verde as hosts of the Redlands Invitational on FRIDAY.

3. Yucaipa — The Thunderbirds have had some great seniors classes, and here comes another. Coach Jeff Stout’s team, a perennial playoff contender, will feature 11 seniors, including P/INF Tyler Sapp (6-foot, 185 pounds), P/OF Alex Morabito (5-11, 175), 1B Dallin Padgett (6-foot, 190) and P/SS Greg Espinoza (5-8, 160).
LAST SEASON: 23-7
LAST RANKED: No. 7.
LAST GAME: lost to Santa Barbara, 7-5, in a CIF-SS D2 quarterfinal game on May 27, 2011.
NEXT PITCH: vs. Covina Charter Oak at SGV/IE Tournament on SATURDAY.

3. Vista Murrieta — The Broncos were a great regular-season team last season as a result Coach Kurt Ruth’s balanced approach. Their playoff fortunes, however, weren’t built for the long haul. Junior INF/OF/P Joven Afenir is a star in the making after hitting .318 with 19 RBI while throwing 29 Ks in 30.1 innings last season.
LAST SEASON: 28-6
LAST RANKED: No. 6.
LAST GAME: lost to Long Beach Wilson, 6-4, in a CIF-SS D1 second round game on May 24, 2011.
NEXT PITCH: vs. Palm Desert (DH) on SATURDAY.

5. Redlands East Valley — The Wildcats have a deep talent pipeline that is more like a funnel. This season should mark the emergence of two players: Senior INF Frank Alvarez, who hit .398 with 27 runs in 26 games in 2011, and senior P/INF Jackson McClelland, who posted a 1.53 ERA with 51 Ks in 50.1 IP while also hitting .358 with five 2Bs and 16 RBI in 26 games.
LAST SEASON: 16-10
LAST RANKED: Not Ranked.
LAST GAME: lost to Riverside La Sierra, 5-3, in a CIF D2 wild card game on May 17, 2011.
NEXT PITCH: vs. San Bernardino Arroyo Valley at Redlands Invitational on FRIDAY.

6. Riverside King — The Wolves are experienced and talented, perhaps as never before as 13 of Coach Ken Scott’s 18 players are seniors. But the best may be a sophomore, INF/OF Shane Mardirosian, who hit .304 in 14 RBI in 27 games as a freshman. Senior right-hander Eric Geiger and Dalton Thomspon will lead a pitching staff that posted 2.56 ERA last season.
LAST SEASON: 21-7
LAST RANKED: No. 8.
LAST GAME: lost to Long Beach Wilson, 6-0, in a CIF-SS D2 first round game on May 20, 2011.
NEXT PITCH: vs. Apple Valley Granite Hills at Redlands Invitational on FRIDAY.

7. Hesperia Oak Hills — The Bulldogs are the reigning CIF-Southern Section Division 5 champions, and come into the season with a 12-game winning streak. Coach Jason Story graduated members of the school’s first senior class, so only time will if Oak Hills can build a powerhouse program from this success.
LAST SEASON: 25-3
LAST RANKED: No. 4.
LAST GAME: def. Lompoc, 4-3, in the CIF-SS D5 title game on June 3, 2011.
NEXT PITCH: vs. MoVal Canyon Springs at Redlands Invitational on FRIDAY.

8. Woodcrest Christian — The Royals are 29-1 in league play the last three seasons, and won a CIF-Southern Section Division 5 championship as recently as 2010. This year, Coach Glenn Prater’s son, Brett, joins the varsity. The 6-foot-1, 188-pound sophomore will pitch and play first base.
LAST SEASON: 21-3
LAST RANKED: No. 6.
LAST GAME: lost to Gardena Serra, 10-5, in a CIF-SS D5 second round game on May 24, 2011.
NEXT PITCH: vs. Menifee Heritage on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

9. Rancho Cucamonga Etiwanda — The Eagles went on a ridiculous postseason run in 2011, going from a 6-9 wild card team from the Baseline League to a CIF-Southern Section Division 2 finalist. That sort of “magic in a bottle” is hard to duplicate, especially when only one pitcher — junior lefty Jordan Gallaway — played a major role on last year’s team.
LAST SEASON: 18-12
LAST RANKED: No. 5.
LAST GAME: lost, 6-2, to Mission Viejo in a CIF-SS D2 title game on June 2, 2011.
NEXT PITCH: vs. Ontario Chaffey on FRIDAY.

10. Riverside Poly — The Bears finished 2011 poorly, and Coach Leon Baham got the axe. Not that game scores and his firing are at all related. They’re not. New Coach Robert Burk inherits the season of Ybarra, with brothers R.J. a senior, and Matt, a junior, hitting at the top of his lineup card.
LAST SEASON: 12-13
LAST RANKED: Not Ranked.
LAST GAME: lost to Corona Santiago, 5-4, in a Big VIII League game on May 20, 2011.
NEXT PITCH: vs. Fontana Kaiser at Chino Tournament on March 2.

JUST MISSED: Norco (19-9), Rialto (18-8-1), Riverside La Sierra (14-13).

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