Prep Baseball Preview: Rancho Bernardo High, Poway return star-studded lineups

Rancho Bernardo High players, from left to right, Casey Henderson, Matt Jervis, Gosuke Katoh, Brandon Bentson and Alex Jackson stand with coach Sam Blalock during last year’s San Diego Section Division II championship game. All but Bentson are returning for this season. Photo by  Beverley Brooks
Rancho Bernardo High players, from left to right, Casey Henderson, Matt Jervis, Gosuke Katoh, Brandon Bentson and Alex Jackson stand with coach Sam Blalock during last year’s San Diego Section Division II championship game. All but Bentson are returning for this season. Photo by Beverley Brooks

By Michael Bower

There is a never-ending list of talent in the local area thanks to all of the returning players from last season.

Rancho Bernardo High is the leader of the pack, bringing back nearly everyone from last year’s CIF San Diego Section Division II runner-up squad.

The Broncos, ranked No. 8 in the state, are the favorites in the Palomar League and arguably have the best talent of any team in the county up the middle.

Poway is still young, but with a handful of up-and-coming stars already with varsity experience, the Titans will be a threat in the Palomar League.

Del Norte should be near the top of the Valley League once again, but could struggle early while it tries to figure out its pitching situation. The Nighthawks will lean on a core group of veterans most of whom will be starting for the first time.

Here is a closer look at the local teams:

Rancho Bernardo

Coach:

Sam Blalock, 23rd year

2012 Record:

23-10, Palomar League champions. Went 3-1 in Division II playoffs (fell to La Costa Canyon in championship game)

2013 Division:

Open

Key players:

C, Alex Jackson, Jr.; 2B, Gosuke Katoh, Sr.; SS. Matt Jervis, Sr.; P, Parker Bugg, Sr.; P, Matt Osborne, Sr.; CF, Preston Sands, Sr.; Inf./P, Casey Henderson, Jr.; OF, Mondesi Gutierrez, Jr.; OF/P, Drew Davis, Sr.

Outlook:

The Broncos have a long list of talented veterans and are strong at every position on the field, especially up the middle.

RB boasts one of the best double-play combinations in the section with UCLA-bound Katoh and Point Loma Nazarene-bound Jervis. Behind the plate is the No. 1 junior prospect in the nation, Jackson. The right-handed catcher smashed 17 home runs last season. Point Loma Nazarene-bound Preston Sands will shift from right field to center field, and with LSU-bound righty Bugg, Osborne and Henderson on the mound, the Broncos are the favorite in the Palomar League and should challenge for the newly formed Open Division section crown.

RB enters the year ranked No. 8 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and No. 3 in the section behind No. 1 in the nation, Cathedral Catholic, and No. 4 in the nation, Vista.

Poway

Coach:

Bob Perry, 19th year

2012 Record:

18-14, went 1-2 in Division I playoffs

2013 Division:

Open

Key players:

OF, Kyle Dean, So.; 3B, Tyler Nevin, So.; CF, Joey Fiske, Jr.; P/1B/OF, Sam Godfrey, Jr.; P/Uti., Justin McSorley, Sr.; OF, Chris Lowe, Jr.; SS, Brett Singer, So.; P, Tommy Brunansky, Jr.

Outlook:

The Titans are young, but have many players with bright futures ahead of them.

photo
Sam Godfrey will see plenty of time on the mound this year for the Titans. Photo by Beverley Brooks

Dean, who hit cleanup for the 15U USA Team over the summer, and Nevin, a UCLA commit, will bolster the middle half of the lineup. McSorley, the ace of the pitching staff, will also provide some pop at the plate.

The lingering question mark — and it has been since last season — comes on the mound.

“We are still trying to figure that out,” Perry said. “We have some younger guys that can throw.”

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