HomeBlocksFront-TopBaseball Preview: Crescenta Valley Looks to Topple Rival for Pacific League Title

Baseball Preview: Crescenta Valley Looks to Topple Rival for Pacific League Title

The Crescenta Valley, Glendale and Hoover high schools’ varsity baseball teams are gearing up for the 2024 campaign, aiming to contend for league titles and make their mark in the postseason.

The Falcons enter the 2024 season with the goal of surpassing Arcadia and reclaiming the Pacific League title, having finished second last year with a 12-2 record (20-7 overall).
“I think we prepare each year the same,” Crescenta Valley coach Phil Torres said. “Our goal is to compete for a league championship and I think that’s why the kids work so hard in the offseason.”
The Falcons have returning varsity players at crucial positions, including senior catcher Brandon Kwan, junior shortstop Chris Torres, senior third baseman Jacob Deno and junior centerfielder Jimmy Spears. The Crescenta Valley manager mentioned the pitching staff was a concern entering the season, with zero returning hurlers who pitched varsity innings last year.
“That’s going to be the challenge right now is getting these guys that are coming up from the lower levels up to speed with what’s going on in our games,” Phil Torres said.
Every league game holds significance for the Falcons in their pursuit of a title, with the most crucial ones potentially being the final series of the season against Arcadia in late April.
“I think all the league games count the same, so you have to win the ones you are playing that week, but the Arcadia games at the end of the year are always a fun high school baseball atmosphere,” Phil Torres said.
After wrapping up the South Hills Tournament, Crescenta Valley will begin Pacific League action at Burroughs High in Burbank on Feb. 27.


Glendale High School senior Jason Martinez will play a key part in helping the Nitros potentially end their 27-year playoff drought.

Kevin Ortega, the new head of the Glendale varsity baseball team, is determined to put an end to the 27-year playoff drought. His objective is to transform the program’s public perception and make this season one of the most memorable in recent history.
In the previous season, the Nitros secured a sixth-place finish in the Pacific League with a 6-8 record (12-15 overall). According to Ortega, the program has not made the CIF Southern Section playoffs since 1997 and has not won a league title since 1988.
“I am confident that the talented players who will be on the field and in the dugout will help us not only show other schools our abilities but will give us a season no one will forget, and hopefully help lead us to the playoffs,” Ortega said. “My goal is to compete for seven innings without letting up. I do not like that Glendale is known as a stepping stool for others and hope to show them we are a strong team that will cause challenges for others.”
Seniors Jason Martinez, Austin Aldrete, Sheantell Cruz and Brandan Guzman, along with juniors Dante Vasquez and Ace Baker, are expected to play crucial roles in Glendale’s success this season.
“These young men have stepped up during the fall and have demonstrated their abilities not only as key players but as leaders on the team with their ability to rally those around them,” Ortega said. “I feel their talents will shine both on and off the field and make a significant impact on our season.”
To secure a postseason spot, the Nitros must face league opponents including Arcadia, Crescenta Valley High and Burroughs High of Burbank. Ortega believes that if they can split the season series with these three teams, the Nitros will be in an excellent position for the playoffs. Additionally, Glendale is eyeing redemption against Pasadena, the team that eliminated them from playoff contention last season.
“To prepare my team for these games, I am planning on preparing a scouting report about each team for each of my players,” Ortega said. “My hope is that with this report we can lock in on what we need to do to win and focus our efforts on improving our weaknesses.”
Following the conclusion of the Dave Moore Tournament, Glendale will kick off Pacific League play at Pasadena on Feb. 27.


Hoover High School junior Gabriel Flores and the Tornados aim to surpass last season’s win total under first-year head coach Frank Vega.

After a playoff absence and finishing without a win in Pacific League play last season, first-year head coach Frank Vega aims to revitalize the program. While competing for a league title and securing playoff berths are ongoing goals, Vega’s priority is to teach his players how to handle failure and enjoy high school sports competitions.
“My expectations for this upcoming season is to see every single player on this team compete to his fullest ability each day and to enjoy the process of building a winning baseball program at Hoover,” Vega said.
Seniors Steve Park, Julian Corral, Josh Keim, Daniel Baneham, Isaiah Alvarado, Bryan Olmedo and Isaac Perez will have crucial roles in Hoovers success this season. Vega mentioned that his senior class has faced significant challenges in recent seasons and is determined to send them off on a high note.
“I cannot stress enough how much adversity this group of seniors has had to deal with the past few years. I officially became the head coach in late January, and for nearly six weeks prior these players were not allowed to use the Hoover facilities,” Vega said. “The players never complained and have never made excuses about anything on the baseball field. Instead, the seniors organized team workouts and practices at any local field they could find. Regardless of how many games we win or lose this season, these seniors have already created their legacy as the team that started the turnaround at Hoover High School.”
The varsity team is mostly composed of underclassmen, and Vega is adopting a baptism by fire approach to their development. He acknowledges that mistakes will occur but emphasizes that failure is an integral aspect of the game. Alongside the senior class, the Tornados will depend on contributions from junior Gabriel Flores, junior Enzo Mitchell, junior Jude Maldonado and sophomore Daniel Cano.
“The sky is the limit with each of these players from a baseball IQ, talent and skill standpoint,” Vega said. “Flores and Cano in particular have really stood out and impressed me during our preseason practices and workouts.”
Every league matchup holds significance for the Tornados this season, with particular emphasis on the intracity rivalry games against Glendale and Crescenta Valley High.
“Our ultimate goal is to provide a first-class high school baseball program to all kids in Glendale, thus, there will always be a great deal of anticipation when we get to play our fellow [GUSD] high schools,” Vega said. “Having a chance to compete against these teams will be so much fun for our players, families and Hoover alumni.”
The Tornados are set to compete in a pair of nonleague games next week before starting Pacific League action at Muir High in Pasadena on Feb. 27.

First published in the February 16 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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