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NorCal Preseason Baseball Top 20 NorCal Preseason Baseball Top 20
Here’s how we see the NorCal baseball landscape to start the 2017 season. 1. DE LA SALLE-CONCORD (25-3) Some of the most competitive games... NorCal Preseason Baseball Top 20

Here’s how we see the NorCal baseball landscape to start the 2017 season.


Some of the most competitive games on the Spartans schedule each year are the intrasquad games played at Saturday morning practices. It’s in those games where De La Salle builds its program depth and allowed for an Oregon-committed pitcher like Cullen Kafka to bide his time behind other seniors for his year to the mound every other game. Kafka (2-1, 1.50 ERA and 2 saves in 18.2 IP as a junior) should lead another talented Spartans pitching staff that will also include Mason LeGate (0 ER in 4 appearances last season).

Senior outfielder Ryan Cole will spearhead the offensive attack for the defending North Coast Section Division I champions. Cole led the 2016 Spartans in both hits (37) and runs (32). He batted .425 with 10 doubles and 22 RBI. Senior first baseman Gabe Giosso returns after leading the team with 26 RBI last season. He .366 over 71 at bats. The offense will also see the returns of junior Trace Tammaro (.262, 21 RBI, 5 HR) and senior Michael Curran (.300, 19 runs, 11 RBI). Senior Nick Santiago had just 26 at bats last season, but hit a home run and had three RBI in the Spartans’ season-opening win over No. 6 Bellarmine-San Jose on Feb. 24.

De La Salle’s daunting nonleague slate includes games against No. 4 Elk Grove (at Raley Field in Sacramento) on March 3,  No. 18 Serra-San Mateo on March 7 and No. 19 St. Mary’s-Stockton before a SoCal swing that will include games against powerhouses Mater Dei-Santa Ana and Orange Lutheran-Orange.


The Lancers may have graduated some top-level talent after 2016, but there’s still quite a bit in the cupboard for the two-time defending Central Coast Section Open Div. champions. Senior infielder and UCLA-signee, R.J. Teijeiro (.368, 35 hits, 20 RBI in 2016) and fellow senior Emilio Nogales (.313, 21 hits, 11 RBI) will lead the offense. Senior lefty Brandon Oliver (3-1, 0.64 ERA) should lead a pitching staff that will also include Dominic DiCosimo (3-0, 0.94).


The Trojans reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Div. I North finals in 2016 and return nine players, including the bulk of their pitching staff. Seniors Trenton Denholm (UC Irvine signee) and John Cross (Kansas) combined for 16 wins and 143 strikeouts in 120 innings. Outfielders Patrick Smith (.324) and Cameron Allie (.322) will be called upon to lead the offense as Oak Ridge seeks its first section title.

4. ELK GROVE (24-9)

The perennial power and two-time defending SJS Div.1 champions will look to reload with some experienced returners mixed with new faces. USC-commit Riley Lamb turned heads with a fastball in the low 90s at the Area Code Games over the summer, and Tanner Carlson is the latest of head coach Jeff Carlson’s sons expected to make an impact.


Six of the Warriors top seven hitters from 2016 return, and that includes All-State junior Patrick Wicklander. The Dallas Baptist-commit is more known for his arm than his bat, however. He went 8-3 with a 0.59 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 83.1 innings in 2016.

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