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What the A's Lucas Erceg was like as a Westmont star

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Westmont High School's Lucas Erceg (17) throws to first base for an out against Branham High School at Branham High School in the first inning on Tuesday, April 30, 2013, in San Jose, Calif. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

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BASEBALL: A'S ERCEG'S IS FORMER WESTMONT STANDOUT

Oakland A's relief pitcher Lucas Erceg caught the attention of the baseball world after being named an early Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

After hitting a grounder against the Nationals on Sunday, he threw the ball through his legs while losing his glove to the first baseman for the spectacular out.

His Westmont coach Tony Pianto wasn't surprised by the great athletic performance.

“He had the skills and was a strong boy,” Pianto recalled of Erceg’s return to his first season. “But he also loved the game. I mean, he just loved every minute of playing baseball.”

Oakland Athletics' Lucas Erceg pitches against the Houston Astros in the sixth inning of a baseball game on Friday, May 26, 2023, in Oakland, California.  (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vasquez)
Oakland Athletics' Lucas Erceg pitches against the Houston Astros in the sixth inning of a baseball game on Friday, May 26, 2023, in Oakland, California. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vasquez)

Erceg was a first-team All-Mercury News selection as a senior in 2013 after posting 106 strikeouts in 83.2 innings and going 9-3 with a 0.59 ERA. He also hit .437 with 22 RBIs and stole eight bases.

“It's not really a surprise what he can do in track and field with his athleticism and his desire to be good,” said Pianto, a retired firefighter who plans to play A-game at the Coliseum at some point.

Pianto, 61, was a coach at Westmont from 2004 to 2017 before moving to Branham after retiring from the fire department. He was an assistant coach to Landon Jacobs for one season and then stepped down as head coach late last year.

He had no plans to coach again, but when Pianto got the chance to return to Westmont, he jumped at the chance.

After a 12-14 record last season, Westmont is 13-6 under Pianto. Pitchers Aiden Kobota and Mason Pound both have ERAs under 2.00, and hitters Matthew Reinhardt and Tyler Risolia both have batting averages north of .300.

“Everything is fine,” Pianto said. “The players work hard and even though it’s difficult to achieve what a coach teaches in just one year, they’ve definitely embraced it.”

– Joseph Dycus

BASKETBALL: MITTY STAR RECEIVES NATIONAL HONOR

It may be softball season, but individual basketball awards continue to be presented for Archbishop Mitty sophomore forward McKenna Woliczko.

After earning MaxPreps' National Freshman of the Year honors with Jerzy Robinson last year, Woliczko was named National Sophomore of the Year this week.

The 6-foot-3 forward, who has scholarship offers from top clubs like South Carolina and Notre Dame, averaged 22 points and eight rebounds per game for the Central Coast Section and NorCal Open Division champions.

Archbishop Mitty's McKenna Woliczko (20) competes against Clovis West in the CIF NorCal Open Division championship at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, March 5, 2024.  (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)
Archbishop Mitty's McKenna Woliczko (20) competes against Clovis West in the CIF NorCal Open Division championship game on March 5, 2024. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)

When future UConn Husky and McDonald's All-American Morgan Cheli missed a month with a leg injury, Woliczko averaged 25 points and 10 rebounds per game to compensate.

The 2023 FIBA ​​U16 gold medalist is a two-time Bay Area News Group Player of the Year.

– Joseph Dycus

SOCCER: MARCO JONES VISITS COLLEGE STATION

While San Ramon Valley's Marco Jones was one of the Wolves' best players on the baseball diamond, the 6-foot-2 power hitter's future is on the gridiron.

Over the weekend, Jones visited Texas A&M – a school that is on the four-star linebacker's top 10 list.

“Texas A&M was really cool,” Jones said. “Great atmosphere and overall it was fantastic.”

SAN RAMON, CA – OCTOBER 20: Marco Jones (23) of San Ramon catches a pass in front of the defense of Derek Trottier (25) of California High School during an EBAL Mountain Division football game at California High School in San Ramon, California.  on October 20, 2023. (Douglas Zimmerman/Special to Bay Area News Group)
San Ramon's Marco Jones (23) catches a pass against California on Oct. 20, 2023. (Douglas Zimmerman/Special to the Bay Area News Group)

Along with Texas A&M, Jones has narrowed his list of schools to Alabama, Florida State, Maryland, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Texas and USC.

“The most important thing for me is a good relationship with the entire coaching staff,” Jones said. “I take into consideration my defensive fitness and whether I would have been able to attend this school if I hadn’t played.”

Last season, Jones had 166 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and three interceptions for a San Ramon Valley team that lost in the North Coast Section Open Division and Division I finals.

– Nathan Canilao

BASEBALL: DE LA SALLE'S PURPOSE

De La Salle coach David Jeans has a problem: He has too many great players and not enough spots on his lineup card.

“We have 17 really good hitters who could all start,” Jeans said after De La Salle’s 11-0 win over San Ramon Valley on Wednesday. “We have guys on the bench who can get things done. We have a lot of people who are really good.”

Just two weeks ago, the Spartans were upset by Dougherty Valley — a team six games under .500. But since that loss, De La Salle has outscored its opponents 89-8 and won five straight games.

The Spartans are just getting into shape.

Key starters like two-sport standout Alec Blair and sophomore shortstop Tyler Spangler missed time early in the season due to injuries.

De La Salle's Tyler Spangler (22) and Alec Blair (4) head to the dugout after scoring a goal during their game at San Ramon Valley High School in Danville, Calif., Wednesday, April 17, 2024 have.  (Jane Engelska/Bay Area News Group)
De La Salle's Tyler Spangler (22) and Alec Blair (4) head to the dugout after scoring a goal in a win at San Ramon Valley on Wednesday. (Jane Engelska/Bay Area News Group)

They're back now.

“I think it was great just being at full strength,” pitcher Graham Schlicht said.

Jeans said it's up to the players to fight for spots in the lineup on a game-by-game basis, but that hasn't made his job any easier. As a team, the Spartans have a .392 batting average and five players who rank in the top 10 in the East Bay Athletic League in slugging percentage.

De La Salle, looking to win its seventh straight North Coast Section title next month, has been slowly climbing its way up the league. The Spartans are currently in third place and have a chance to overtake San Ramon Valley for second place with a win on Friday.

“I feel like there’s no limit if we stay focused and keep playing our game,” senior Joe McGee said.

BASEBALL: ACALANES IS NO LONGER PERFECT

After 17 straight wins to open the season, which included a comeback win against College Park on Tuesday, Acalanes faced a deficit it couldn't overcome.

This time, College Park prevailed over the Dons, winning 5-1 at home to split the two-game series in the Diablo Athletic League's Foothill Division.

Samuel Johnston had two hits, including a double, and drove in two runs, and Diego Emerling pitched 5 ⅔ strong innings to lead the way as College Park improved to 10-6, 3-1.

Acalanes fell to 17-1, 3-1.

FOOTBALL: CAMPO'S CROSBY SHINE IN CAMP

Campolindo coach Kevin Macy prides himself on basing his successful public school program on what he calls “neighborhood kids,” average athletes who are trained to be good players.

Sophomore tight end Crosby Kelly doesn't fit the mold. He is 1.80 meters tall, weighs 110 kilograms and has first-class athleticism.

“He’s got a Division I body and a D-1 motor,” Macy told the Bay Area News Group on Thursday. “I think over the next few years he’ll improve his skills and things like that.”

Greg Biggins of recruiting service 247Sports.com reported that Kelly was among the standouts at last weekend's National Preps Showcase, which featured highly touted college prospects such as Riordan lineman Tommy Tofi.

Kelly had 5.5 sacks as a defensive end last season, but he impressed as a pass catcher in camp.

“He has a large frame with soft hands and runs well,” Biggins wrote. “He definitely has the qualities you want in a next-level candidate.”

Macy said he can only think of three or four other Campolindo players he's had since 2000 who have the physicality to play on a Division I defensive line or a tight end like Crosby.

“The few that stood out are guys like Tyler Petite,” Macy said, referring to the 2015 graduate who played tight end for USC.

– Joseph Dycus

SOCCER: SPRING BAY AREA SHOWCASES

A number of Bay Area programs will host or participate in college showcases as part of their spring practices.

Here is the list: