Palm Desert High baseball coach Estevan Valencia slowly walked to the mound after his team fell behind host Redlands East Valley by six runs.
As if on cue, the REV public address announcer played “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
“Don’t go around tonight
Well it’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise.”
Palm Desert lost to REV in the playoff game 6-0 but life has been good for Valencia. The former Redlands High athletic director and baseball coach and Banning resident now has the same jobs at Palm Desert and is thriving.
The Aztecs won the Desert Empire League and finished 17-10 overall in Valencia’s first season as coach.
It was a fitting way to succeed the iconic Darol Salazar, the former Palm Desert athletic director and baseball coach who won 690 games and two section titles at Palm Desert, while bagging 21 league championships.
Salazar is a member of the CIF-Southern Section Hall of Fame — big cleats to fill for Valencia.
“It’s been great,” Valencia said. “The community has been great, and the administration has been great. Coach Salazar built a great baseball program here and I’ve been lucky enough to get to drive the Cadillac.”
Valencia said it was difficult to leave Redlands High where he spent so many years.
“I spent so much time there and dropped so much blood, sweat and tears on that facility and at that school,” Valencia said. “And my kids were raised at that school. If it’s hard, that means people at that school have had a lasting effect on you.”
HE’S A COYOTE
Mt. San Jacinto College and former Beaumont High baseball star Alec Bressler has committed to Cal State San Bernardino. So he’ll be a Coyote (I won’t call them the “Yotes,” the preferred moniker of some athletic department types).
We featured Bressler when he played at Beaumont. He’s beefed up significantly since then with serious weight-training work.
APPLE FOR TEACHER
Coach Jon Florence didn’t just lead the Beaumont High boys’ basketball team to a Citrus Belt League title this year. He excelled in the classroom and, last week, was named the Teacher of the Year for Beaumont High. Give that man a raise.
Yucaipa’s Owen Egan shined for Aquinas High in its 7-3 baseball playoff game victory against Moorpark. Egan threw 4 2/3 strong innings and has been a mainstay for the Falcons after transferring with his brother Gavin from Yucaipa High.
Former San Diego Padre great Tony Gwynn had more four-hit games than he did 2-strikeout games, a mind-boggling statistic.
Gwynn was also a cool guy. The Padres played the minor league Rancho Cucamonga Quakes one night at the Epicenter and I interrupted Gwynn’s batting-practice routine to ask a question. He said he was busy but then later looked me up and asked what I needed. Pure class.
The Banning High baseball season ended with a 3-2 playoff loss to Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary last week, but it was still a mightily impressive season. Coach Scooter Harris’s team went 17-3 overall and won the Desert Valley League with a 12-2 record. The loss to Cantwell snapped a six-game winning streak.
COYOTES TO HOST REGIONAL
The Cal State University San Bernardino baseball team has made the NCAA Division II tournament for the first time in school history. The Coyotes are one of 56 teams in the tourney.
The Coyotes will host Azusa Pacific and Western Oregon at San Bernardino’s Fiscalini Field in the regional tournament that was set for Thursday, May 18, to Saturday, May 20.
BULLDOGS OPEN REGIONAL PLAY
The University of Redlands softball team was set to open play on Thursday, May 20, against host Linfield University in a two-team regional in which the teams play a best-of-five series. A doubleheader was set for Friday, with games 4 and 5 scheduled for Saturday, if necessary.
Redlands was the Southern California Collegiate Athletic Conference champion.
John Murphy may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @PrepDawg2.
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