July 13, 2007
LOS ANGELES - Although the 2008 season does not commence until next February, returning members of the LMU baseball team wasted no time in preparing to make a run at the West Coast Conference title. With some players beginning their summer seasons just weeks after the team's last contest of 2007, the Lions are now spread out across the country, competing in some of the top collegiate leagues.
Junior RHP Mike Kenney is spending his summer with the Santa Barbara Foresters. As the team's closer, Kenney leads the squad with 16 appearances and five saves. In 19.0 innings of work, he has given up just three earned runs and struck out 27 batters. He has an ERA of 1.42 and opponents are batting just .179 against him. Kenney has helped the defending National Baseball Congress World Series Champion Foresters to an overall record of 27-5 and a first-place standing in the prestigious California Collegiate League.
Moving to the Midwest, sophomore RHP Xavier Esquivel has a record of 4-0 with a 2.00 ERA for the El Dorado Broncos of the Kansas Jayhawk League. In 27.0 innings, Esquivel has given up just 18 hits and six earned runs, while recording 19 strikeouts.
Continuing eastward all the way to Massachusetts, junior RHP and utility player Brian Wilson is playing his summer ball for the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod League, the preeminent collegiate summer league in the nation. In four appearances, Wilson has 10 strikeouts and a 4.70 ERA in 15.1 innings. He has helped the Kettleers to an 11-10-2 overall record and a second-place standing in the Cape Cod League's Western Division.
With Wilson's assignment to Cotuit, the Head Coach Frank Cruz and the Lions have sent players to the prestigious Cape League for three straight summers and four of the last five seasons. The previous three Lions to play on the Cape were all named Cape League All-Stars in Eric Farris (2006), Brad Meyers (2005), and Billy Lockin (2003). The Lions also had two Cape all-stars in 1999 when Mike Schultz (1998-2000) and Scott Walter (1998-2000) played for the West Division. All five of those Cape League All-Stars went on to be selected in the MLB draft.
Up in Washington, juniors Lee Roberts (RHP) and T.J. Bernardy (catcher) are spending their summer playing together for the Moses Lake Pirates. Roberts has been impressive on the mound and was recently named a West Coast Collegiate Baseball League All-Star. He has allowed just one earned run while striking out 12 in 14.0 innings. Roberts has a 2-1 record with one save, and an ERA of 0.64. Bernardy has started 13 games for the Pirates behind the plate. The two have helped Moses Lake to a 16-7 record, which is good for first place in the WCCBL.
Heading south to Arizona, junior outfielder Jeremy LaMell is on a tear for the Prescott Blazers. LaMell has scored 20 runs and stolen 13 bases through 27 games. He has a .341 batting average and a staggering .542 on-base percentage. LaMell has helped the Blazers to a record of 18-9, good for a second place standing in the Pacific Southwest Baseball League and a berth to the NBC World Series in Wichita, Kan.
Up in Wisconsin, senior RHP Kevin Hernandez is competing this summer for the Green Bay Bullfrogs. Hernandez has made two starts and has a record of 1-0 with a 3.77 ERA in 14.1 innings. He has helped the Bulldogs to a 26-11 overall record.
After a productive freshman season, sophomore infielder Will Dugoni is currently playing for the Nampa Outlaws in Idaho. In six games, he has a .273 batting average, a .385 on-base percentage, and three stolen bases. Dugoni has helped the Outlaws to a 9-3 record, which is good for first place in the Sawtooth Division of the Boise Collegiate League.
Several Lions have remained in Southern California for the summer to compete in the Southern California Collegiate Baseball Association. Sophomore RHP Jeremy Burrell has a record of 2-0 as a starting pitcher for the East Los Angeles Dodgers.
In seven appearances, junior LHP Steve Connolly has a record of 3-1 with a 3.58 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 27.2 innings for the South Bay Saints.
Junior catcher and outfielder Brett Mendoza was selected as an SCCBA All-Star and will compete in the All-Star game, which will take place next week in Palm Springs.
Meanwhile, sophomore infielder Ryan Wheeler and junior RHP Ernie Cho are spending the summer playing together for the Palm Springs Power. Wheeler has started 27 games, recording a .279 batting average, a .395 on-base percentage, and 12 RBI. Cho has appeared in 10 games, making one start. In 13.0 innings, he has 11 strikeouts and a 7.62 ERA. The two have helped the first-place Power to a 24-8 overall record.
Throughout the summer, www.LMULions.com will give LMU fans a closer look into the Lions' summer ball season through the Around the Horn Baseball Blog feature. Today's first blog will feature Esquivel in the Kansas Jayhawk League. Enjoy Esquivel's blog from El Dorado, Kan., and check back for future blogs from Around the Horn.
To read Esquivel's blog, click here.