League champs lead with six all-SFL baseball selections

Granite Bay, Rocklin dominate coaches’ list of top players
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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When the dust settled on the 2010 high school baseball season, the Sierra Foothill League once again stood as one of the elite leagues in Northern California.


With section champion Rocklin knocking off league champion Granite Bay in the Division II title game, the league was well-represented once again. That is especially true considering that Roseville was also among the final four in the section.;


When the coaches of the SFL got together to select an all-league team, it is no wonder that there were so many players from which to choose. In addition to league MVP Braden Young, five other Grizzlies earned first team honors, including last year’s top player, catcher Andrew Knapp, who will play at Cal next season.


“This year was a learning experience for him,” said Granite Bay coach Pat Esposito regarding his catcher. “He learned that no one was going to pitch to him and he had to be patient. That is a hard thing for a 17 or 18-year-old kid to do. It created a huge impact for us just by having him in the lineup.”


Second baseman Riley Drongesen was another Granite Bay all-league player.


“Riley is an interesting guy,” Esposito said. “He would always figure out a way to win. Every day he walked out of the field, he had the attitude of ‘let’s get a W today,’ and I think that’s what the college coaches noticed.”

Drongesen has signed a letter of intent to play his college ball at Pacific.


The Grizzlies are also represented on the team by senior first baseman Jake Marjama, senior outfielder Sean Sundberg and junior third baseman Nate Esposito.


“Marjama was the team MVP on a vote by the players,” Esposito said. “He was an all-business guy and brought the other guys with him from a leadership standpoint. He was pretty consistent all year long, and he really puts a charge into the ball.”


Sundberg was not with the Grizzlies during the postseason and it made a difference in their batting order.


“Sean is a guy who really needed a purpose,” Esposito said. “He was one of the best guys in the league at getting on base and once we put him in the lead-off spot he took that as his purpose – to get on base. A left-hander walks up there as the first guy up and stands on top of the dish is tough on a pitcher.”


Esposito’s son, Nate, turned in a sensational junior campaign for Granite Bay, providing great defense at third base, and occasionally behind the plate and delivering a number of clutch hits.


“He did everything for us this year,” Esposito said. “He led the team in runs scored and he played a great third base. He made plays when we needed them all year long.”


Oakmont had a strong senior class in 2010, headed by University of Oregon-bound first baseman Tyler Kuresa.


“TK was one of the most high sought players in the area, if not the most highly sought, by pro scouts,” said Oakmont coach Dean Perkins. “He did not see a lot of pitches, but he was very patient. He had single-digit strikeouts for the season and that’s pretty good for any high school hitter.”


Kuresa was so sound in his approach that he often had the green light on a 3-0 count, something almost unheard of at Oakmont. In addition to an outstanding glove around first base and a sweet swing, the 6-3 senior has good speed and is a great baserunner.


His extensive travels and discussions with coaches and scouts across the country also played to the benefit of his Viking teammates.


“He has gotten tips from a lot of people,” Perkins said. “This year he took on a lot of leadership responsibilities and shared that stuff with other players on the team.”


Seniors Kory Groves, the Vikings’ top pitcher and a great defensive shortstop, and catcher Nick Hoffman also earned first team honors for Oakmont.


“As much as anything, Kory had a tremendous increase in confidence at the plate, “ Perkins said. “He could have had a tough day, but always came up with the attitude that he knew he would hit. He went to right and right-center as well as anyone we saw all year.”


“Nick had four 4-for-4 games for us,” Perkins said. “It was not just his hitting, though. He was a defensive leader as a catcher and at third base.”


Roseville is represented by a pair of players on the all-league team. Senior outfielder Matt Hack was the league’s most electric base runner, while junior catcher Anthony Roberts was one of its most feared hitters.


Matt brought that excitement factor to our team,” said Roseville coach Hank DeMello. “We got excited when he came up and when he was on base he brought havoc. I wish I had 20 Matt Hacks.”


“Anthony Roberts was arguably the most feared hitter in our league, which was evident in the first play off game against Granite Bay,” DeMello said. “They wouldn't have run the hidden ball trick if he's not up. He led the league in home runs. He has some off the fastest hands that I've seen in a long time.”


Woodcreek’s all-league representatives provide a contrast in the old and the young, as senior catcher Jonathan Nutter and freshman infielder Stephen Nogosek earned the honor.


Nutter was the veteran leader for a young Timberwolves’ team and has been one of the SFL’s best catchers the past two seasons.


“Jonathan had something like 34 doubles in three seasons,” said Woodcreek coach Kelly Mayo. “That is almost unheard of. He competed every day for three years, and was very good defensively. He has a phenomenal arm and got the ball to second base as quickly as anyone.”


Despite coming in with a reputation as an outstanding player, Nogosek still managed to surprise for the Timberwolves.


“We knew Nogo could throw, but he was not in our plans as a starting pitcher,” Mayo said. “We put him out there in relief and he kept on winning so we ended up using him more and more as a pitcher as well.”


“No one in my years with the league has made the first team as a freshman,” Mayo said. “We brought him (Nogosek) up just to take a look at him, and he just kept getting better and better. When you bring a freshman up there are always a lot of questions, but he matched it and did a great job for us.”


All-SFL baseball team

Coach of the year: Pat Esposito

League MVP: Braden Young, pitcher, Granite Bay


First team: 

Nate Esposito, third base, Granite Bay

Sean Sundberg, outfield, Granite Bay

Riley Drongesen, second base, Granite Bay

Jake Marjama, first base, Granite Bay

Andrew Knapp, catcher, Granite Bay

Matt Hack, outfield, Roseville

Anthony Roberts, catcher, Roseville

Tyler Kuresa, first base, Oakmont

Kory Groves, pitcher/shortstop, Oakmont

Nick Hoffman, catcher, Oakmont

Jonathan Nutter, catcher, Woodcreek

Stephen Nogosek, third base/pitcher, Woodcreek

Austin Diemer, outfield, Rocklin

Matt Fielding, pitcher/outfield, Rocklin

Wes Marker, catcher, Rocklin

Justin Castro, shortstop, Rocklin

Bryan Bynum, third base, Del Oro

Cole Perez, pitcher/outfield, Del Oro

Broghan Jantz, outfield, Nevada Union

Chris Porter, catcher, Nevada Union

Dillon Jones, third base, Nevada Union