‘Night Crew’ hoping hard work will pay off late in season

BY BLAKE DORFMAN, PRESIDIOSPORTS.COM

Santa Barbara High assistant baseball coach George Rempe provided a perfect example of what hard work can do at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon.

The three players (all lefties) he brought to Harry’s — Collin Dewell, Pepe Gil and Cameron Gniadek — are the founding fathers of what Rempe refers to as ‘The Night Crew.”

After practices in the fall, Dewell started to stay until after dark to work on his hitting with Rempe. Pretty soon, Gil and Gniadek joined in.

“These three have gone above and beyond when it comes to trying to be the best they can… Now all three wear me out almost every day after regular practice,” said Rempe.

The not-so-big-surprise is that all three are hitting over .300 in Channel League play, have multiple home runs and are near the top of the ranks in RBIs. The league title can still go to either Santa Barbara, Buena or San Marcos, but the Dons control their own destiny and can clinch it with two wins over Buena this week.

“I brought these three hard-hitters to the luncheon only after they understood that I was going to put pressure on them as a group. That pressure is that ‘The Night Crew’ will have to play a big role in our games this week if we are to win the Channel League,” said Rempe.

BASEBALL

SAN MARCOS: After a 1-4 start in league play, the Royals have rattled off four consecutive wins and will need to win three more this week to have a shot at the league title. Two of those games are against Ventura, while the other is a make-up contest with DP.

“We’re in a position where we could win the Channel League, but really our goal right now is to just be in the playoffs. Just to kind of clear it up, if we beat Ventura on Tuesday we guarantee ourselves a Channel League playoff spot,” noted coach Rob Crawford.

Along with Crawford were his corner outfielders, right-fielder Anthony Patolo and left-fielder Peter Greeney. Both were key contributors in the team’s seven-game errorless streak. Greeney is headed to UCSD next year while Patolo will be close by at USD.

“It’s amazing to watch these guys do what they do best,” said Crawford of their defense.

UCSB: Associate Head Coach Tom Myers pointed to three aspects of this year’s roller-coaster season — consistency, development and health. The Gauchos (20-22, 6-9 Big West) have been unlucky when it comes to health, as five key contributors are likely done for the year.

As far as consistency goes, he pointed to the reliable performances of pitcher Mario Hollands (4-3 on the season), infielder Trevor Whyte (hitting over .300 as the lineup’s only lefty) and Sunday starter Jesse Meaux (7-3 on the season).

With player development, there’s been nothing more promising than six-foot-9 hurler Sam Phippen, a Gaucho basketball player who hadn’t pitched since high school but recently came out of the bullpen for the Gauchos. He struck out two in an inning this weekend.

“I think I field two or three calls a week from a professional scout asking when Sam is gonna throw,” said Myers.

UCSB plays at Pepperdine on Tuesday.

TRACK AND FIELD

SAN MARCOS: Male Athlete of the Week Shane Rowan is mentored by Royals jumps coach Erica Downing. Downing’s dad, Paul Menzel, held the school’s triple-jump record for 40 years until his daughter’s pupil broke it at last week’s Channel League Championships. Rowan, a junior, jumped 45 feet, 5.25 inches at La Playa Stadium on Friday and earned himself a meal from Menzel as part of a deal between the two.

Head Coach Marilyn Hantgin brought Rowan as well as fellow jumper Nate Reid, who made 42-10 at the Channel League meet to move on to CIF. Danish exchange-student Villads Joergensen is a multi-talented hurdler, thrower and sprinter who will be moving on to the postseason in the 300 hurdles. Katelyn Rheinschild ran a 26-second personal best to qualify in the two-mile, while sprinter Courtney LaViale set personal records in the 100 and 200 to qualify.

The Royals will be competing at Estancia High School in Costa Mesa on Saturday.

CARPINTERIA: The Warriors hosted the Tri-Valley League finals on Thursday, which coach Van Latham said was dominated by powerhouse programs from Oaks Christian and Oak Park.

“They took away the honors as far as team championships, but we had a number of outstanding performances. We just didn’t have enough of them, as we’re a little down on numbers this year,” said Latham.

John Bustillos qualified for CIF in the shot put with a throw of 46-10, placing him on the school’s top-20 list. On the girls side, luncheon attendee Lacey Bushey broke her own freshman records in the 200 and 400 at the league finals, finishing second in the TVL in the 400. She also qualified for CIF with the Warriors’ 4×400 relay team.

Kelsey Drain was also part of that 4×400 team and was the county frosh/soph champion in the 300 hurdles. Finally, Shelby Dunlap broke the 15-year-old school record in the 300 hurdles and qualified for CIF in four events.

The Warriors host the CIF Division IV preliminaries at 11 a.m. There are a host of state-ranked track stars who will be on hand for the event.

WESTMONT: Don’t look now, but the Warriors have a shot at earning a national title before summer arrives. Javelin-throwers Brent Lagace and Andrew Kolodinski have been nothing short of phenomenal since picking up the trade just recently (Lagace during last school year, Kolodinski in January). Lagace shattered the school record with a throw of 223 feet at the GSAC championships, and Kolodinski isn’t too far behind at 219 feet.

Coach Russell Smelley reported that the Warriors have a total of four athletes qualified for nationals with five provisional qualifiers, including San Marcos High alum Kristin Hempy in the javelin. This weekend’s competition at the CSULA Last Chance Qualifier will hopefully grow that group before it shoves off for the NAIA Championships.

FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: UCSB’s Barbara Nwaba won the Big West heptathlon championship with a score of 5552 points, breaking her own school record by more than 300 points. The result ensures her a spot in the NCAA Championships and will likely be among the national leaders. The second-place finisher, Desirae Gonder of Cal State Northridge, was just 40 points behind.

BREAKERS BASKETBALL

General Manager Eric Burkhardt was at Harry’s to remind everybody that there is quite a show being put on every Saturday by our very own professional sports franchise.

The Santa Barbara Breakers have been ranked in the top 14 of all minor-league basketball teams since first being formed three seasons ago. Those rankings include the NBA Developmental League, the IBL and more.

“You have one of the best teams in the country right here,” said Burkhardt.

The Breakers, who feature former UCSB sharp-shooter James Powell, find themselves in unfamiliar territory (second-place in the WCBL) after a close loss last weekend. They’ll host the first-place Newport Surf this Saturday at 7:15 p.m.

TENNIS

SANTA BARBARA HIGH: The Dons have won 10 straight Channel League boys tennis titles, and Steve Geremia said it’s also been at least 10 years since anyone but a Don has been a singles or doubles champion in the league. He introduced two-time reigning singles champion Chase Melton, who has beaten nationally ranked players throughout his career. Also at Harry’s was two-time defending league doubles champion Chris Williams and teammate Jim Vaughan.

The Vaughan-Williams duo went undefeated this year in the face of a daunting schedule.

“If you give these guys a forehand, you’re gonna be going home early,” said Geremia.

The fourth player he brought was Dan Diaz, who has battled wrist injuries this year and still managed to make it to his second consecutive league title match in doubles.

The Dons, seeded second in the Division I playoffs, will begin their run against against a wild card team on Wednesday.

SAN MARCOS: The Royals started 5-0 and ended up at 10-8 in an up-and-down regular season. It was still enough to earn a home match in Tuesday’s opening round against Aliso Niguel at the John Stoney Tennis Courts. The Royals have beaten ranked teams in the top three divisions this season, including a victory over Ventura last week.

Coach Jarrod Bradley was accompanied by Petar Jivkov, the squad’s lone ranked player. Jivkov, only a freshman, has a “phenomenal inside-out forehand” according to Bradley, and has a big potential. He’s already battled some tough players, including getting to a match-point against the likes of Vaughan.

Also at Harry’s was Parker Funk, a lefty with a crafty serve and has improved tremendously this season, according to Bradley. The winner of Tuesday’s match will face the top-ranked team in Division I, University High in Irvine.

DOS PUEBLOS: Coach Liz Frech began by thanking Randy Weiss and luncheon sponsor Santa Barbara Bank and Trust for providing towels and balls at last week’s Channel League Championships. She also introduced Mary Edstrom and Victoria Brown, two of the team moms who were at the luncheon with their sons, Christian Edstrom and Austin Cano.

Edstrom and Cano were at Harry’s along with the third senior “Musketeer” of the Chargers’ squad, UCSB-bound Sasha Gryaznov.

“We have nine seniors, and forgive me if I get choked up, but we’re going to miss all of them when they graduate,” said Frech.

The Chargers finished up at 13-6 and will play at Loyola High in the first round. All three of the “Musketeers” represented DP proudly at the prestigious Ojai Invitational.

WESTMONT: The Golden State Athletic Conference has been incredibly tough in men’s tennis this season, so tough that the Warriors finished fifth in the conference but are still ranked No. 8 nationally.

Coach Mark Basham introduced two Brazilian players who have made a big impact, Carlos Lima and Tiago Hayashi. Basham says that when he’s fully healthy Lima is one of the best doubles players in the entire NAIA, while Hayashi, a lefty, has been the squad’s most improved player on the season.

On Saturday, the team leaves for nationals in Mobile, AL, where it hopes to make it to at least the quarterfinals.

SOFTBALL

SAN MARCOS: Hantgin pinch-hit for coach Alex Sheldon and introduced sophomore catcher Emily Dietz and pitcher Corrine Yingling. The Royals dropped a pair of games to DP last week, but Sheldon noted that he was particularly proud of the team’s defense late in the season. He also mentioned that Yingling pitched her best game of the season against DP last week.

CARPINTERIA: Latham spoke on behalf of coach Henry Gonzales in reporting that he Warriors have responded to a 4-game losing streak with a 4-game winning streak and are hoping to finish in second place in the Frontier League. A tough game against Nordhoff is on tap.

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