San Benito Babe Ruth All-Stars gain valuable experience in regional loss

San Benito shortstop/pitcher Tony Amaral was a defensive standout for the 18-and-under All-Star team.

Even though the San Benito Babe Ruth 18-and-under All-Star team fell short in its quest to reach the World Series following last year’s historic appearance, manager Andrew Barragan said plenty of positives came out of this year’s postseason experience.
San Benito fell a game short of reaching the championship round of the Pacific Southwest Regional tournament, dropping a 7-2 contest to San Gabriel on July 27 at Modesto Christian High.
“It was important for a lot of our younger guys to get experience against strong teams like San Gabriel and Modesto Empire, who have junior college players and some standout high school kids on their roster,” said Barragan, who is also the pitching coach at San Benito High. “You can see glimpses of greatness coming up.”
Barragan was referring to Daniel Hopkins, who was a dominating closer on the Balers’ junior varsity team last season, and Diego Fisher, a left-hander who has been lights-out for the San Benito 15-and-under team that begins regional play on Aug. 4 in Ukiah.
Barragan was also talking about two players—David Werolin and Tommy Hernandez—who saw varsity action last season. Most of the players on the San Benito Babe Ruth All-Star teams end up playing for the high school—some in starring roles—and Barragan sees plenty of promise for the 2015 prep season.
Along with Fisher and Hopkins—Fisher is going to be a sophomore and Hopkins a junior—pitchers Hernandez and Werolin return with varsity experience, ready to assume the position of the next great San Benito pitchers.
Even though the Balers lose co-ace standouts Hunter Haworth and Greg Steinbeck to graduation, San Benito might not suffer the dropoff that some people expect, not with the aforementioned four pitchers who are eager to lead the Balers to their first-ever Central Coast Section championship.
Barragan envisions Hernandez, Werolin, Fisher and Hopkins to take their game to another level by the time the 2015 high school season starts.
“They all have kind of the same stuff (fastball and curve), and they’re going to have to outwork each other to distinguish themselves,” Barragan said. “Werolin is a true three-pitch pitcher because he’s got great command of his change-up, so he might be ahead at this point.”
Werolin and Hopkins were named to the Pacific Southwest Regional all-tournament team. Werolin went six innings in a 5-1 win over Sacramento, and Hopkins started the team’s 20-1 laugher over San Luis of Arizona.
Barragan praised the play of shortstop Tony Amaral, who made a number of outstanding defensive plays.
The affable Barragan didn’t express disappointment because he knew the team wasn’t at full strength without the services of Steinbeck, who needed to rest his arm after carrying a big workload during the high school season.
Outfielder Dylan Yamasaki and Haworth also weren’t available after playing in the state tournament.
“With a healthy Greg Steinbeck, San Gabriel is not touching the ball,” Barragan said. “His elbow is feeling good now, and I know (Cal State Monterey Bay) coach (Walt) White wanted him to rest his arm until fall ball, and we respected those wishes. If we’re at full strength, I have no doubt we’re going back to the World Series. We still had a nice run, and I liked what I saw from this team and how it looks good for us in the future.”

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