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Power Knapp

Granite Bay catcher is SFL's top player
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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For the second consecutive year, the baseball coaches of the Sierra Foothill League selected a junior as the league’s MVP. In what may be the Sacramento area’s most talented league from top to bottom, Granite Bay catcher Andrew Knapp was the most consistent performer. The league MVP was a solid receiver behind the dish for the Grizzlies, but his greatest asset was his bat. The switch-hitter led the league in almost every offensive category, and won the equivalent of the triple crown during the regular year, leading the way in batting average (.500), home runs (six) and RBIs (37). Rocklin’s Jason Hampton used a torrid postseason surge to surpass Knapp in the final RBI tally. “Andrew did a lot of talking with his bat and his arm,” said Granite Bay coach Pat Esposito. “He did everything for us and broke a number of school records.” Four of Knapp’s teammates were also honored on the all-SFL first team. Senior shortstop Travis Israel was a solid force in the middle of the Granite Bay infield, and in the middle of the batting order. “The thing I really like about Travis is that he never got down real low or up too high,” Esposito said. “He was steady for us all season.” Third baseman Sam Flajole was another great leader for the Grizzlies. The senior manned the hot corner and was one of the coaching staff’s go-to guys. “You could talk to him like a coach,” Esposito said. “He was great as a leader among the players and was one of the guys we could run things by when we wanted to try new things.” Senior second baseman Trevor Trinidad and senior southpaw pitcher Tyler Bibbins were the final two Granite Bay players on the first team. “He inspired me to work harder,” Esposito said about Trinidad. “He was maybe 150 pounds, but he put the full 150 into every swing.” The Grizzlies struggled through numerous injuries to pitchers this season, leaving Bibbins with a heavy burden to bear. “We had to ride him,” Esposito said. “The way we were losing pitchers, we needed a guy with senior leadership to step up and Tyler did that for us.” Roseville and Woodcreek each had two players selected to the all-league first team, while Oakmont had one representative. The Tigers were a team in transition almost from the get-go, as a number of veteran players left the team early in the league season, but the one thing Hank DeMello could count on was his strength in the middle of the infield. Sophomore shortstop Nick Blaser and senior second baseman Andrew Beals provided Roseville a steadying influence in the field as in the batter’s box, where the duo sat atop the Tigers’ order. “Nick Blaser is a great baseball player who is still growing,” DeMello said. “People forget that he is a sophomore. He is really fun to watch play the game. Andrew leaves a big hole to fill. He hit some huge home runs for us. Each one of them changed momentum in the game.” If not for the presence of Knapp, Woodcreek’s Jon Nutter would have been acclaimed as the best catcher in the league. The junior was pressed into duty behind the plate after an injury to last year’s starter, Clinton Brill, and he responded in a big way. “We thought we would have an advantage when we saw that Nutter was pressed into duty,” Esposito said. “Instead, we ran on him three times and had three guys thrown out. We could not run on the guy.” Nutter was not just a first-rate defensive catcher, but also delivered at the plate. He is joined on the first team by the Timberwolves’ second baseman Tommy Murphy. “Nutter led the league in stolen bases and tied the school record in a season with 13 doubles,” said Woodcreek coach Kelly Mayo. “Murphy did not play at all last year, but came back and was very solid at second base. He is an even better outfielder.” Oakmont’s lone player on the all-SFL first team is first baseman Tyler Kuresa. The junior was the Vikings’ best hitter, especially with runners on base, and is also one of the area’s best fielders at first. “Tyler is a slick-fielding, smooth-hitting junior,” said Oakmont coach Dean Perkins. “He led our team in most offensive categories.” The full all-league first team as well as local players who received second team and honorable mention is included below. All-SFL baseball team: MVP: Andrew Knapp, Jr., catcher, Granite Bay First team: Travis Israel, Sr., shortstop, Granite Bay Sam Flajole, Sr., third base, Granite Bay Tyler Bibbins, Sr., pitcher, Granite Bay Trevor Trinidad, Sr,. second base, Granite Bay Tommy Murphy, Sr., second base, Woodcreek Jon Nutter, Jr., catcher, Woodcreek Andrew Beals, Sr., second base, Roseville Nick Blaser, So., shortstop, Roseville Tyler Kuresa, Jr., first base, Oakmont Jason Hampton, Sr., first base/pitcher, Rocklin Pat Stover, Sr., outfield, Rocklin Matt Fielding, Jr., pitcher, Rocklin Wes Marker, Jr., catcher, Rocklin Mason Magleby, Sr., pitcher, Del Oro Brian Rowe, Sr., catcher, Del Oro Trevor Thomas, Sr., first base, Del Oro Freddy Cargile, Jr., second base, Del Oro Dillon Jones, Jr., pitcher, Nevada Union Robbie Porter, Sr., pitcher, Nevada Union Broughan Jantz, Jr, outfield, Nevada Union Roseville/Granite Bay second team: Lydell Moseby, Sr., first base, Granite Bay Sean Sundberg, Jr., outfield, Granite Bay Brad Nease, Sr., pitcher, Granite Bay Anthony Roberts, So., third base/pitcher, Roseville Beau Smith, So., outfield, Roseville Kory Groves, Jr., pitcher/shortstop, Oakmont Randy Purdy, Sr., outfield, Oakmont Roseville/Granite Bay honorable mention: Braden Young, Jr., pitcher, Granite Bay Daulton Blaser, Fr., outfield/pitcher, Roseville Pat Gallagher, Sr., pitcher, Roseville Clinton Brill, Sr., third base, Woodcreek Jon Canipe, Sr., shortstop, Woodcreek