BVAL Baseball

The word around the Bay Valley Athletic League is that this is Deer Valley’s championship to lose.

But don’t tell De La Salle that. The Spartans have won the past two BVAL titles, and won the North Coast Section 3A East Bay title last year. They return a healthy complement of talent from that squad, despite the departure of Times Player of the Year Eric Massingham.

Clayton Tanner takes on the ace mantle, and Michael Cipolla, Nick Hom, Nathan Carter and Tyler Hess should provide plenty of offense.

Still, Deer Valley is stocked with lively arms and solid hitters. Taylor Stanton, Matthew North, Gabe Tafoya and Javier Biagas are part of a staff that coach Dennis Luquet calls “the best pitching I’ve had.”

This from a guy who coached Dan Denham a few years ago. If Luquet admits he’s got a squad, pay attention. No pressure, but the Wolverines are my early prediction to win the NCS 3A East Bay title.

Coach Bob Ralston always does such a great job over at Clayton Valley that the Eagles can’t help but be in contention. SS Randy Wells is one of the best players in the area, not to mention the league, and will be relied upon to spark the offense.

As mentioned on a recent (albeit brief) contracostatimes.com discussion board, Liberty has some great talent returning from a team that just missed the playoffs last year.

The Lions are off to a rocketing start, largely due to the big three of Mike Gonzales, Mike McCarthy and Jason Smith. Look for the Lions to make some serious waves in the league, and get back to the playoffs.

After Liberty, things theoretically drop off a bit. But Antioch has a way of inserting itself into any BVAL title conversation, so don’t be surprised if the Panthers claw their way into the top half of the league.

Ygnacio Valley, Pittsburg and Freedom all should show improvement, but this is going to be one tough league to compete in this year, and the Warriors, Pirates and Falcons likely will struggle to move into the upper echelon.

As always, my predictions are my own. I base them on discussions with coaches in the league, my past experience, gut-level thinking and magic.

So if you would like to quibble with them, quibble away. But don’t say I didn’t warn you about the magic.

Post a comment, or read on for a list of some of the league’s …

Players to watch:
— Bub Comages, Kacy (Roach) Comages, Brian Fiore
Clayton Valley — Wells, Trevor Barrow, Bill Burmeister
Deer Valley — Stanton, Travis Higgs, North, Tafoya, Biagas, Simeon Maldonado, Justin Manci
De La Salle — Tanner, Cipolla, Carter, Hess, Hom, Tillman Pugh
Freedom — Dane James, Brandon Alexander
Liberty — Gonzales, McCarthy, Smith
Pittsburg — Kenny Evanson, Jared Mourning, Dominic DiSibio
Ygnacio Valley — Matt Liubicich, Garry Graffort, Kyle Lawson, Brett Butterfield