‘Boys of Spring’ Are Back in Swing at Stengel Field

BATTER UP: The 2016 Vaqueros baseball team takes batting practice at Stengel Field in preperation for the upcoming season.

Sal Polcino

BATTER UP: The 2016 Vaqueros baseball team takes batting practice at Stengel Field in preperation for the upcoming season.

The Vaqueros baseball team hopes to continue its winning ways in the 2016 season. The team has won four of the last five Western State Conferences and last season made it to the Super Regional playoffs where they lost to Orange Coast College in three games. Infielder Nick Wolyniec was voted WSC player of the year and All-American.

Since Head Coach Chris Cicuto took the reins in 2004, 83 percent of the Vaqueros’ players have transferred to the National College Athletics Association and some to the major leagues.

“This is by far our best transfer class—mainly due to (Assistant Coach) Alex Kocol’s work to contact the right schools for each player and provide recruiting videos,” said Cicuto. “His dedication to our players is second to none.”

Fifteen players from last season transferred to four-year colleges, including seven to Division 1 or NCAA schools.

Infielder Brent Sakurai and pitcher Andy Frakes moved on to New Mexico State University and pitcher Chase Hoag went to Fresno State. Outfielder Carlos Robles headed to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, catcher Alex Gomez to the University of San Diego, pitcher Nick Shur to Riverside and pitcher Christian Keamy to CSUN.

Coach Cicuto said the coming season looks promising, with strong returning players, incoming transfers and new freshman additions.

Right-handed pitchers Ryan Losman and Jordan Yrastorza are back, and Cal Christiansen who sat out last year while rehabbing an injury is expected to be one of the top pitchers in the conference. Mike Polchow also returns as a left-handed specialist.

Former El Vaquero staff member and pitcher Jack Morello is back in the line-up after sitting out last season with a shoulder injury.

Tei Vanderford played one season at GCC then moved to the University of Tennessee on a scholarship. He graduated early and has returned to play for the Vaqs.

“We are very fortunate to have him back. He is a leader that is extremely talented and should be a WSC pitcher of the year candidate,” Cicuto said.

Some incoming freshmen that Cicuto believes will have a strong impact on the team  include third baseman Frank Garriola, infielder Jake Zahorik, outfielder John Malott, catcher Zach Mausser and outfielder/first baseman Estevan Rodriguez.

Two younger brothers of former Vaqueros bring family tradition to the team: Relief pitcher Anthony Robles, brother Carlos Robles (2014/15) and starting outfielder Cristian Montes, brother of Edgar Montes (2012/13) who transferred to UNLV.

“Sophomore Transfers include 2016 shortstop Rick Perez who I recruited from Burbank High School three years ago and first baseman Troy Mulcahey from Crescenta Valley,” Cicuto said. “Both played at Fullerton College, but have decided to come back to town to finish JC [Junior College] baseball.”

The team travels to Cerritos to face the Falcons on Feb. 2 and hosts Rio Hondo College at Stengel Field on Feb. 4.