Mother Lode League baseball in Calaveras County was the best it’s been in years during the 2022 season. Bret Harte finished the season by placing second in league play and reached the postseason for the first time in five years. As for Calaveras, the San Andreas squad not only won the Mother Lode League championship but captured its first section championship.
With Calaveras having such a magical season, it was rewarded with six of its players getting all-league honors. Calaveras senior Dean Habbestad was named as the Most Outstanding Player, while junior Giovanni “Gus” Tofanelli was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the Mother Lode League. Calaveras’ senior foursome of Andy Rios, Chris Maddock, Brock “Woody” Gardina and Aiden Look were first-team players.
“It feels really good to see them get the recognition for all the hard work that they put in not only this year, but the last couple of years to get to the point where all six of them are at the top of the league,” Calaveras head coach Tom DeLappe said.
The Bullfrogs had the brother duo of Erik and Jack Trent, along with senior Noah Adams on the first team and senior Kenny Scott on the second team.
In only his second year as head coach, Bret Harte’s Josh Bailey was quite pleased with the progress his team made from his first year to where the squad ended the season, which was in the postseason. Bret Harte went 10-11 overall and 7-8 in league play.
“We had growth and that’s all that I can really ask for,” Bailey said. “Our expectations were raised a little bit and hopefully they can elevate again next year. I saw a lot of growth from guys, especially with having a full year with them. Growth is definitely the biggest thing that comes to mind when I think of the year we just had.”
Calaveras’ Rios had another strong season following his junior year that ended as being named as the MVP of the MLL. At the plate, Rios hit .384 with 43 hits, 34 runs scored, 22 RBIs, 14 doubles, 10 walks and was hit by six pitches. On the mound, Rios was 9-0 with a 2.02 ERA with 81 strikeouts in 61.1 innings pitched. Rios also threw the final 5.2 innings in relief during the section championship victory.
“We are really comfortable with Andy in the game, either in the field, on the mound or at the plate,” DeLappe said. “He gives you good at-bats and he has great hand-eye coordination. He’s hit well for two years with us, and you always expect to give us a good at-bat and you are really surprised when he doesn’t.”
When Rios was on the hill, he was throwing to Gardina behind the plate. Calaveras’ senior catcher caught every inning during the long 2022 season. Gardina, one of Calaveras’ captains, hit .462 with an on-base percentage of .564 with 42 hits, 38 RBIs, 34 runs scored, 15 doubles, two home runs, drew 18 walks and stole six bags. In a 10-0 win over El Dorado, Gardina went 3 for 3 with a double and six RBIs. And in the victory that sent Calaveras to the section championship game, Gardina went 3 for 4 with a double and a two-run home run.
“He just continued his growth from his great junior season,” DeLappe said. “He’s really dedicated to the weight room and is in tip-top shape. He refined his catching skills and he’s throwing the ball harder and with more accuracy this year. At the plate, he had more power and seemed to be able to handle more pitches this year. He worked really hard and was one of our team leaders.”
Maddock hit second in Calaveras’ lineup and set the tone all season by getting on in front of the heavy hitters. Maddock hit .410 and had an on-base percentage of .512 with 43 hits, 18 RBIs, scored 40 runs, had four doubles, walked 13 times and stole three bags. While Maddock was solid with his bat, the senior was outstanding with his glove. Maddock had a fielding percentage of .915 and would routinely make plays from shortstop that would alter the outcome of a game.
“He made quite a few spectacular plays this season,” DeLappe said. “We do watch him in practice every day and you get kind of used to it. In pressure situations, he made some really good plays and some really smart plays and really athletic plays and those do get your blood going and you get really excited when it happens.”
Look was Calaveras’ leadoff hitter. The senior could hit gap-to-gap but could also lay down a perfect bunt to reach base safely. Look hit .364 with 40 hits, 34 runs scored, 14 RBIs, nine doubles, two triples, drew 13 walks, was hit by pitches five times and stole nine bases. When he wasn’t in center field, Look threw 10.2 innings on the mound and had an ERA of 1.97. But it was his ability to start the game by getting on base that impressed DeLappe the most.
“It’s a big advantage,” DeLappe said. “He’s a good hitter and a good leadoff guy. He gets on base a lot. He can drive the ball over your head, he can hit one in between you, he can drop a bunt down in front of you and he can steal a base. He’s a perfect leadoff hitter and he hit really well there this year.”
Calaveras junior Brayden Brim received the Character Award. In his junior year, Brim hit .283 with 26 hits, had 29 RBIs, scored 16 runs, had four doubles and one home run. He also threw 3.2 innings of relief and didn’t give up an earned run.
“He’s really put in a lot of work the last couple of years,” DeLappe said. “Two years ago, he probably wasn’t much of an outfielder and his hitting was suspect. He worked hard last year, and he came up as a sophomore and sat the bench, which was a big thing because he could have played all the time on the JV team, but we needed the body and I thought he needed the experience up here. I think he grew from it, and he had a great year this year. About halfway through the season, you could see where he got more confidence with his hitting, and he was a different hitter at the plate. I hope he continues that growth over the offseason into next season and he should be a premier player in the league.”
Gardina, Habbestad and Brim made the all-academic team.
As for Bret Harte, there’s no question that Erik Trent was the player who could do it all on the baseball field. Trent hit .370 with an on-base percentage of .533 and collected 20 hits, drove in 13, scored 23 runs, had eight doubles, two triples, walked six times, was hit by 14 pitches and stole 25 bases. He also pitched 18.1 innings and had an ERA of 2.29 with two saves.
“Our offense really ran through him at the top of our lineup,” Bailey said. “When he was on, we had high expectations to score a run, which was why we batted him at the top and having Kenny (Scott) behind him definitely was a good at-bat to keep teams honest. Erik was definitely a catalyst for us putting runs on the board.”
Senior Noah Adams was one of the most consistent hitters in Bret Harte’s lineup. At one point in the Mother Lode League season, Adams went on a 10-game hitting streak, which included recording 17 hits. His strongest day at the plate was a 4 for 4 game with three RBIs in a 7-1 win over Summerville, which clinched a playoff spot. Adams finished the season by hitting .397 with an on-base percentage of .463 with 23 hits, 15 RBIs, 13 runs, three doubles, four walks, was hit by pitches four times and stole 12 bases. Adams also had a fielding percentage of .971 with only one error in 34 chances in center field.
“Noah really bought into the philosophy of what I preached earlier in the year and that’s a bunt a week adds 50 points to your batting average,” Bailey said. “Noah really opened up his potential when he started understanding that with the way he runs, if he just puts the ball on the ground that good things will happen. Obviously, he had a lot of great hits and great at-bats for us, but his philosophy as a true hitter really grew once he realized that there is more to hitting than just going up there and trying to hit a double.”
Freshman Jack Trent didn’t seem overwhelmed at the varsity level, especially when he was on the mound. In his first year of high school baseball, Trent hit .391 with 15 hits, 12 RBIs, 10 runs scored, three doubles, two triples, walked six times, was hit by four pitches and stole five bags. On the hill, Trent was 5-1 with a 2.02 ERA in 41.2 innings. He struck out 64 and surrendered only 12 earned runs.
“I was surprised to see how effective he was,” Bailey said. “Rarely do you see freshmen as effective as he was. Jack doesn’t really bring the highest velocity that the league sees, but his deception as a pitcher must be better than most and clearly shows with the record he had and the ERA that he held for the majority of the season. It was very exciting to see our freshman and sophomore lead us in the pitching area. Hopefully there’ll be more to come from Jack in the next three years.”
Scott made the second team. The senior catcher hit .309 with an on-base percentage of .406. He collected 17 hits, drove in 15, scored 19 times, and had six doubles, one triple, walked 10 times and stole 15 baes. Scott had a fielding percentage of .986 from behind the dish. But it was Scott’s ability to handle a young pitching staff that really stood out to Bailey.
“It’s always good to have a senior as a catcher,” Bailey said. “Catchers are really the anchors of your pitching staff and the anchors of your defensive lineup. Kenny did a great job as a natural leader in that role and understood the game as it came to him. He led us through the thick and thin of the season.”
Senior Austin Broglio received the Bret Harte Character Award. Broglio hit .234 with 11 hits, four RBIs, scored eight runs and had two doubles and one triple.
“Austin Broglio is a journeyman of life, in sports and of a character guy,” Bailey said. “He was an absolute ‘yes man’ when it came to asking him to do things. He never really shied away from trying to learn and add more to his game every single day.”
Bret Harte’s Keegan Alvin, Dylan Knick, Walker Maurer, Ezra Radabaugh, Jack Trent and Carston Weidmann made the all-academic team.