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Harvard-Westlake’s Pete Crow-Armstrong, Drew Bowser, Tyler Ganus, Sam Biller and Thomas McCaffery were all juniors when they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Cypress in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 final at Dodger Stadium in 2019.
2020 was to be their year, the senior year.
The Wolverines started the 2020 season 8-1-1 overall, including a 5-0 record in the Mission League. The five league matches were won by an average margin of 7.4 races. But everything stopped screaming when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Harvard-Westlake played their last game of the season on March 13, 2020 at Crespi.
Crow-Armstrong went to the New York Mets in the first round of the MLB Draft 2020. Bowser is now at Stanford. Ganus went to Oregon. Biller is at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and McCaffrey is now an anteater at UC Irvine.
Harvard-Westlake Team of the Year, Nr. 1 on the Daily News season, will be young, talented and led by seniors who did not get much chance to play the junior season.
Star pitcher Christian Becerra was a first-year student when the team played in the championship game at Dodger Stadium, and now he is a senior committed to Cal.
“He’s the guy who carries the torch with him when it comes to the big pitchers that have come through this program,” said Harvard-Westlake coach Jared Halpert.
Lucas Giolito (Chicago White Sox), Max Fried (Atlanta Braves) and Jack Flaherty (St. Louis Cardinal) are household names in major subjects after coming through Harvard-Westlake. The last to hold the proverbial torch before Becerra was Sam Hliboki, who is now at Vanderbilt University.
“Cal gets the best pitcher in the state,” Halpert added about Becerra.
The players who were marked as “up and coming” in 2019 are now seniors that the team is looking up to, such as catcher Jacob Galloway (Texas Tech commit), shortstop George Cooper (Harvard) and Bennett Markinson. Jordan Kang at third base and Marty Kaplan in the field are juniors to watch, but it is the sophomores and freshmen in this team who are excited about Halpert and local baseball experts.
Sophomores Kai Caranto (second base) and David Lozano (relief jug), along with freshman Duncan Marsten (pitcher), Tommy Bridges (pitcher) and Bryce Rainer (pitcher) are the names to keep an eye on.
Rainer throws right-handed, but bat left-handed. He also wants to play infield. He throws from 89-92 miles per hour, according to Halpert.
“He’s going to be special,” Halpert said.
Wolverines begin their season Saturday at home against the El Camino Real Charter at 10 p.m.
They will not find it easy to see what first-year students can do. Halpert said Bridges is the expected starter for the game.
“The mecca of baseball is in Southern California,” Halpert said. “For us to wake up and know that it’s baseball game, it’s so exciting.”