Area baseball beat: Walbeck to work with collegiate summer series

Published: Sunday, May. 26, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 5C
Last Modified: Wednesday, May. 29, 2013 - 8:21 am

The Horizon Air Summer Series, a unique 11-week competition among collegiate players, appointed 11-year big-league veteran Matt Walbeck (Sacramento High School) as chairman of its competition committee.

Walbeck will oversee the committee, which reviews and implements rule changes, sets the annual league schedule and selects the Diamond Sports HASS All-Series teams at the end of each summer.

"Collegiate summer baseball has become the new minor leagues in smaller communities around the country," Walbeck said. "The Horizon Air Summer Series is a unique concept that has been at the forefront of this expansion over the last decade, and I look forward to helping the series grow and continue to prosper."

The HASS is comprised of three divisions:

• The McCullough Division, which plays 40 games and consists of the Atwater Aviators, Humboldt Crabs, Marysville Gold Sox, Neptune Beach Pearl, Redding Colt 45s and Seattle Studs.

• The Engelken Division, which plays 24 games and is made up of the California Glory, Menlo Park Legends, Nevada Bighorns, San Francisco Seagulls, South Bay Storm and Walnut Creek Crawdads.

• The Bavasi Division, which also plays 24 games and has the Auburn Wildcats, Sacramento Legends, Sacramento Spikes, San Mateo Rounders and Solano Mudcats.

Walbeck was a catcher with the Chicago Cubs, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, Anaheim Angels and Philadelphia Phillies. The 43-year-old Walbeck spent eight seasons as a manager in the minors for the Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves organizations. He led clubs to three league championships and was named his league's Manager of the Year on four occasions. He also was a third-base coach for the Texas Rangers.

In 2007, Walbeck was named Baseball America's Minor League Manager of the Year. In 2012, he was inducted into the West Michigan Whitecaps Hall of Fame.

Walbeck is also the president/director of instruction of the Walbeck Baseball Academy in Sacramento, where he oversees the training of aspiring players.

Wolverines honored

Sierra College dominated the postseason awards in the community college ranks.

Sophomore Andrew Cooper was Northern California Pitcher of the Year and was named to the NorCal All-America team with sophomore teammates shortstop Nick Blaser (Roseville) and catcher Blake Grant-Parks (Yuba City). American River sophomore outfielder Andrew Lojewski (Woodland) also made the team.

Selected to the All-NorCal team was Sierra reliever Kea Vierra.

Named to the All-Big 8 Conference team were Jarrod Bravo (Ponderosa) and Robby Link (Christian Brothers) from Sacramento City; Cameron Bennett (Rio Linda), Jason Fletcher (Rosemont) and Lojewski from American River; Jake Riffice (Granite Bay), Jared Snow, Blaser, Grant-Parks, Cooper and Vierra from Sierra, and Santa Rosa's Ryan Xepoleas (Del Oro). Cooper was Pitcher of the Year and Blaser co-MVP.

Tellez repeats Cats honor

Elk Grove High's Ryan Tellez was named Player of the Year for the second consecutive year by the River Cats last Sunday.

More than 400 student-athletes from 90 Sacramento-area high schools were honored as well as 24 players of the year selected in 11 different sports. They also named Davis High swimmer Tara Halsted the recipient of the V Award, named after Vicki Kockinis McDermott (girls athlete of the year), and Antelope High multi-athlete Tyler Winston, winner of the Art Savage Award (boys athlete of the year).

League honorees

• Binghamton outfielder Cory Vaughn (Jesuit) was named the Double-A Eastern League Player of the Week (May 13-19). The son of former major leaguer Greg Vaughn (Kennedy, Sacramento City) went 10 for 25 with two doubles, a home run and nine RBIs.

• River Cats right-hander Bruce Billings was the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week. The right-hander, the team's Pitcher of the Year in 2012, went 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA and struck out 16 in 13 innings.

Mark McDermott is a freelance writer specializing in Sacramento-area baseball. Contact him at

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