2019 Prep Baseball Preview: New Challenges Abound For SP, MS & POLA

Springtime is in the air, and America's favorite pastime is beginning to blossom.

San Pedro, Mary Star and Port Of Los Angeles High baseball are all looking to make 2019 their year.

In the past, San Pedro won the CIF-Los Angeles City Section championship in 1992, and it remains to this day, the only non-San Fernando Valley based City title in the last four decades dating back to 1974. Mary Star reached a CIF-Southern Section final back in 2002, while Port Of Los Angeles won their first CIF-LACS crown in 2014.

Going into the 2019 campaign for the three schools, San Pedro again appears to be the top team to watch after last year's Marine League championship run and CIF-LACS Open Division playoff berth, but watch out for both Mary Star and POLA who look to make significant title runs in their respective leagues.

Here's a look at all three teams so you'll know what to expect this Spring.

SAN PEDRO (13-17-1 in 2018) - Steve Tedesco enters his fifth year as head coach for San Pedro, who had a ragged start to 2018 but recovered quickly to earn a share of their second straight Marine League title and even garnering a home game in the inaugural CIF-LACS Open Division playoffs, where it fell in extra innings to San Fernando.

Junior P/INF Travis Connelly had a strong fall and winter campaign for the Pirates and will look to build off last year’s run to a Marine League tri-MVP selection. San Pedro returns several All-Marine League selections like senior Anthony Scognamillo, sophomores Jake Harper and Cain Lusic, plus juniors Josh Duarte and Jake Pacheco.

San Pedro will once again battle fellow co-league champions Banning of Wilmington and Carson for the top spot, but never underestimate Narbonne of Harbor City, and the Marine League gets a new challenger with Rancho Dominguez Prep of Carson/Long Beach now in the mix.

Out of the 24-player roster San Pedro possesses, only two of them are seniors and there is no incoming freshman.

MARY STAR (19-8 in 2018) - Rick Ibarra enters his fourth season in his second term as coach for the Stars, who had the best record of anyone in town last season, but finished second in the Camino Real League to Cantwell Sacred Heart, and was unceremoniously bounced in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 playoffs by Sunny Hills.

Now Mary Star will deal with St. Anthony of Long Beach and St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs in the new look Camino Real League while rivals Salesian of Los Angeles & Bishop Montgomery remains intact.

Junior pitcher Marco Ibarra and the senior trio of Andy Vega, Joe James and Ryne Lina are returning all-league selections, while junior Aaron Martinez is a three-sport standout who has shined brightly for both the football and boys basketball teams at Mary Star.

Vega has already jacked a home run for the Stars on February 9 in a nonleague doubleheader split with North Torrance at Fromhold Field near Royal Palms, which provides the best atmosphere out of the three San Pedro-based high schools for baseball.

POLA (14-13 in 2018) - Co-coaches Brian and Dennis Emerson will try to get the Polar Bears back in contention in the CIF-LACS Division 3 title chase as they will now compete in the new Imperial League. In their last year of Coliseum League play, POLA finished third at 7-3 before falling in the quarterfinals to rival Harbor Teacher Prep, who is the Imperial League favorite.

Already this year, POLA defeated Gardena from the Marine League in a nonleague road game so that in itself bodes promise.

Players to keep an eye on for the Polar Bears includes senior P/INF Justin Bales, junior OF/P/INF Matthew D’Anna, sophomore CF/P Rudy Rios, junior infielder Ian Renn, junior P/INF/OF Tim Stevenson and senior infielder Will Magrini.

The new Imperial League along with POLA and Harbor Teacher Prep will also feature Dymally, Jordan, Washington Prep and King-Drew Medical.

TOP GAMES TO WATCH

March 2 – San Pedro at Redondo Union (6 pm)

March 7 – POLA at Mary Star (3:15 pm)

April 4 – Banning at San Pedro (3 pm)

April 17 – St. Anthony at Mary Star (3:15 pm)

April 30 – Carson at San Pedro (3 pm)

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