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Off-Season News ...

Hoyt signs with Braves; 19 alums in pro ball

player imageATLANTA, GA (10-31-2012) -- Former Palomar pitcher Jimmy Hoyt, a 6-foot-6 right-hander, has signed with the Atlanta Braves.

Hoyt, who moved on to Centenary College of Louisiana after Palomar, has spent the last two seasons in Independent pro ball, compiling a 2.61 ERA for the Wichita Wingnuts in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball Clubs in 2012.

Baseball America recently named him as No. 9 on its Top 20 list of top prospects from all teams in Independent baseball. He previously pitched for Edinburg and Yuma in the North American League and for Tebasco in the Mexican League.

Hoyt is one of 19 former Comets in pro baseball, a list that includes Major League pitcher Nick Vincent of the San Diego Padres.


Player Pos. Organization / Team
Nick Vincent RHP Padres Major League Team
Marcus Hatley RHP Cubs / Iowa (AAA)
Tyler Saladino INF White Sox / Charlotte (AAA)
Jimmy Hoyt RHP Braves (signed on Oct. 27)
Jeff Ibarra LHP Padres / San Antonio (AA)
Brenden Webb OF Orioles / Frederick (A - Advanced)
Bobby Shore RHP Mariners / Clinton (A)
River Stevens OF Padres / Eugene (A)
Patrick Smith RHP Diamondbacks / Missoula (R - Advanced)
Austin Muehring RHP Reds / AZL (R)
Nick Carmichael RHP Reds / GCL (R)
B.K. Santy C Twins / GCL (R)
Anthony Renteria OF Padres / AZL (R)
Joe Ramos INF Independent / Lincoln
Jeff Nettles INF Independent / Somerset
Reece Alnas OF Independent / Hilo
Zane Chavez C Independent / Grand Prarie
Scott Clement C Independent / Rockland
Jeff Tezak INF Austrian Baseball League / Vienna
4-Year College Teams for Players in Pro Baseball -- Nick Vincent, Long Beach State / Tyler Saladino, Oral Roberts / Jimmy Hoyt, Centenary College of Louisiana / Jeff Ibarra, Lee University / Bobby Shore, Oklahoma / Patrick Smith (Cal Baptist) / B.K. Santy (Washington) / Anthony Renteria (Cal State San Marcos) / Joe Ramos (Chico State) /  Reece Alnas, Oklahoma Baptist / Scott Clement, UC San Diego, Cal State San Marcos / Jeff Tezak, Nebraska

Carmichael helps prime Tigers for World Series

DETROIT (10-23-2012) -- Pitcher Nick Carmichael, drafted in the 24th round and signed by the Detroit Tigers following Palomar's 2012 season, was among a group of Tigers instructional league players who played a series of scrimmages to help keep the Tigers sharp for the World Series, that starts tonight (Wednesday) in San Francisco.

The 6-foot-6, 220-pound right-hander, converted by the Tigers from a closer to a starting pitcher, was 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA in 10 appearances, all starts, for the Rookie Classification Gulf Coast League Tigers over the summer. He struck out 38 batters in 44 2/3 innings.

Carmichael, a Rancho Bernardo High School product, opted to return to Palomar for his sophomore season instead of signing with the Baltimore Orioles, who drafted him in the 17th round in 2011. He tied the Comets' all-time saves record for a team that tied for the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference champions.

September's 0.82 drops Vincent's ERA to 1.93

SAN DIEGO (9-27-2012) -- Palomar alumnus Nick Vincent (left) has lowered his Major League ERA to 1.93 for the San Diego Padres with a major surge in September. That's major, as in an ERA of 0.82 for 12 appearances during the month.

Toiling for another former Comet, Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley (right), Vincent has had 18 scoreless outings in his last 19 appearances out of the bullpen, including a streak of 14 in a row from July 4 through Sept. 16.

That includies a streak of 14 conseutive appearances without giving up a run  from July 4 through Sept. 16.

He worked 1 1/3 shutout innings on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. Vincent is 2-0, allowing only 16 hits while striking out 23 and walking six over 23 1/3 innings in his rookie season. He's appeared in 23 games since his June 26 MLB debut.


Vincent: 1.93 ERA, 13 straight scoreless outings

SAN DIEGO (9-11-2012) -- Ex-Palomar standout Nick Vincent continued his brilliant rookie Major League season on Monday evening at Petco Park, lowering his ERA to 1.93 by throwing 2/3 of an inning of shutout relief as the San Diego Padres downed the St. Louis Cardinals 11-3.

Vincent, the second San Diego pitcher of the night, came on with one out in the sixth inning to get the Padres out of a jam. It was the 13th straight scoreless appearance, dating back to July 4, for the Padres' ace short reliever.

 Vincent struck out one and walked none. The right-hander from Ramona has struck out 18 batters in 18 2/3 inings. Vincent has allowed only 13 hits and has walked six. He has a 2-0 record.

50,506 see Vincent (2-0, 2.20 ERA) beat Dodgers

LOS ANGELES (9-05-2012) -- Palomar's Nick Vincent, the second San Diego Padres pitcher of the night, picked up the win Wednesday as the Padres beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 before 50,506 at Dodger Stadium. 

Vincent (2-0, 2.20 ERA) came into the game with the score tied 3-3 andh one run across, runners at first and third and two out in the fifth inning. He got the Padres out of the jam on a foul pop-up to the catcher. He retired the Dodgers in order in the sixth on a fly ball, a grounder to second and a tapper back to the mound.

The Padres scored a run in the top of the seventh to give Vincent, who pitched 1/3 perfect innings, his second victory of his first Major League season.

 Vincent retires all 4 batters he faces vs. Giants

SAN DIEGO (8-18-2012) -- Palomar alum Nick Vincent, called back up to the Major Leagues by the San Diego Padres, returned to The Show by retiring all four batters he faced against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night..

Vincent, beginning his fourth stint with the Major League Padres this season, returned from Tucson of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League to get the final out in the seventh inning, then retired the Giants in order in the eighth. He finished with one strikeout.

The Padres lost to the Giants 8-7.

Vincent is 1-0 for the MLB Padres with a 3.86 ERA and nine strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings..

The Ramona High School product, Palomar's second winningest pitchers ever, was drafted and signed by the Padres out of Long Beach State in June 2008.

Webb moves up to Advanced-A in O's system

FREDERICK, Maryland (8-14-2012) -- Palomar alum Brenden Webb continues up the ladder in the Baltimore Orioles farm system, moving from Class A Delmarva to the Frederick Keys of the Advanced-A Carolina League.

Webb, a center fielder who committed to USC after his freshman season of 2009 at Palomar but was drafted in the 30th round and signed by the Orioles before he could become a Trojan, is off to a good start for the Keys. Webb is batting .375 in his first five games with 1 double, 1 triple, 1 home run and 3 RBIs for 16 at-bats. He's 1-for-1 on steals.

In 100 games for Delmarva of the South Atlantic League, the Mt. Carmel High School product was hitting .251 with 23 doubles, 4 triples, 11 home runs and 48 RBIs. He stole 18 bases on 21 attempts.

Shore has 0.34 ERA, 30 strikeouts in last 4 starts

CLINTON, Iowa (8-07-2012) -- Right-handed pitcher Bobby Shore was used almost exclusively as a starter at Oceanside High School, Palomar and Oklahoma University.

A reliever since being drafted and signed by the Seattle Mariners in June 2010, Shore was converted back to a starter on July 15 -- with huge success.

Shore (3-1,1.01 ERA in his last 10 games for Clinton in the Class A Midwest League), has an ERA of 0.34 in his last four starts for the Lumberkings.

Shore has struck out 30 batters in 25 1/3 innings in that span. He's coming off back-to-back 10-strikeout peformances in 7 innings vs. Peoria on Aug. 5 and 6 innings vs. Kane County on Aug. 10.

White Sox move Saladino to Triple-A Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (8-01-2012) -- The Chicago White Sox have moved up shortstop Tyler Saladino from Class Double-A Birmingham of the Southern League to the Charlotte Knights of the International League. The move gives Palomar three alumni players on the Triple-A level.

Saladino, a product of University City High School in San Diego, starred for the Comets for two seasons and, in Division I, was the Summit League Player of the Year at Oral Roberts University in 2010.

He's been ranked as high as the No. 3 minor league prospect in the White Sox organization and spent part of spring training both last season and this season playing for the Sox' Major League club.

1,000th hit for Nettles; Cubs' Hatley to Triple-A

BRIDGEWATER, New Jersey / DES MOINES, Iowa (7-29-2012) -- Former Palomar third baseman Jeff Nettles became the first player in the history of the Independent Atlantic League to reach 1,000 career hits in his first at-bat in the first game of a couble-header Friday evening at  Bridgewater, NJ.

Nettles' milestown hit came against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs at T.D. Bank Ballpark.

Nettles, son of all-time great New York Yankees and San Diego Padres third baseman Graig Nettles, is the Atlantic League's all-time leader in games played, at-bats, hits, doubles and RBIs. He's in line to break the league's career home run record this season.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Nettles, an eight-time All-Star in the Atlantic League, was drafted by the Yankees after his freshman season at Palomar in 1996. He made it to the Triple-A level in the Yankees organization and also played in the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles organizations.

His brother, center fielder Tim Nettles, played for the Comets in 1995 and 1996, when he and Jeff Nettles were teammates. Tim Nettles also signed with the Yankees, after two seasons at Division I University of North Carolina-Asheville, and spent two seasons in the Yankees farm system.

Former Palomar relief pitcher Marcus Hatley (right), meanwhile, has been promoted by the Chicago Cubs from their Tennessee Smokies farm club in the Double-A Southern League to the Iowa Cubs of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.

Hatley has struck out six batters in  his first two innings in Triple-A.

Drafted by the Cubs after his freshman season at Palomar in 2006, was 3-1 with a 3.40 ERA and four saves at Tennessee.

Nettles came to Palomar from Torrey Pines High School. Hatley was from Mission Hills High School.

 Cheek takes scholarship to Loyola Marymount

SAN MARCOS (7-24-2012) -- Tommy Cheek, who started all 36 games for Palomar's 2012 baseball team at third base and was the Comets' third-leading hitter, has accepted a scholarship offer from Loyola Marymount University.

Cheek becomes the 13th member of the 2012 squad to move on to the four-year college level and the eighth to Division I.

Cheek, a Cathedral High School product who transferred to Palomar from the University of San Diego after playing a season atter playing for the University of San Diego in 2011.

He batted .314 with 10 doubles, a home run and 16 RBIs for Palomar's  Pacific Coast Athletic Conference champions. He reached bases 10 times on walks and five times as a hit batter, and was second on the club with a .409 slugging percentage.

Loyola Marymount finished in a tie for third place with Gonzaga and the University of San Francisco in the West Coast Conference this past season, behind champion Pepperdine and runner-up USD.

"They told me they have some infielders returning, but it's wide open and I'll be fighting for a (starting) spot," Cheek said. "That's  what I'm hoping to do, start.

Cheek will check in to school at the end of August and will major in accounting.

Above left Photo by Hugh Cox


Player Pos. 4-Year College
Casey Munoz OF Santa Clara
D.J. Zapata RHP Santa Clara
Danny Hawksley 1B San Diego State
Audie Afenir  C / 1B  Oral Roberts
Tommy Cheek 3B Loyola Marymount
Alex Cox RHP Kansas
Josh Sabourin OF Alabama
Matt Gavin  RHP Fordham
Callan Dawson RHP San Francisco State
R.J. Shanks RHP Cal Poly Pomona
Cody Willingham LHP Abilene Christian
Julian Esquibel  RHP Faulkner (AL)
Rich Montanez C Cal State San Marcos

Vincent (1 K per inning), Saladino crank it up

SAN DIEGO / BIRMINGHAM, Alabama / LAKELAND, Florida (7-17-2012) -- While Palomar alumnus and reliever Nick Vincent  is averaging an even 1.0 strikeout per inning out of the bullpen for the Major League San Diego Padres, ex-Comets in minor league baseball also are stepping their games up.

Vincent (left), who is being shipped back and forth between the big-league club and Triple-A Tucson at a dizzying pace and was sent back down to Tucson on Saturday remains 1-0 and owns a 4.50 ERA out of the bullpen for the Major League Padres. He threw 1 1/3 shutout innings in relief against the Colorado Rockies last Wednesday at Petco Park.

Highlights for the former Comets in minor-league baseball:

TYLER SALADINO, Shortstop (Chicago White Sox / Birmingham - Class AA) -- Saladino (right) is batting .306 for his last 10 games for the Barons of the Southern League. The slick-fielding shortstop has brought his season batting average up to .257 with 15 doubles, 4 triples, 4 home runs and 35 RBIs. He has 34 stolen bases for 41 attempts.

NICK CARMICHAEL, Right-Handed Pitcher (Detroit Tigers / GCL Tigers - Rookie) -- The 6-foot-6 Carmichael has been on fire since being converted from closer to starter after the Tigers drafted and signed him after the 2012 Palomar season. Carmichael is 3-0 with a 1.63 ERA, and 24 strikeouts and 6 walks over 27.2 innings. He pitched five shutout innings with 5 strikeouts and 1 walk vs. the Braves GSL team in his most recent start late last week  in Orlando, Florida.

MARCUS HATLEY, Right-Handed Pitcher (Chicago Cubs / Tennessee - Class AA) -- Hatley is 3-1 with 4 saves, a 3.40 ERA, and 46 strikeouts compared with 20 walks for 45 innings pitched for the Smokies of the Southern League.

PATRICK SMITH, Right-Handed Pitcher (Arizona Diamondbacks / Missoula, Advanced Rookie) -- Pitching for the Osprey in the Frontier League, Smith has struck out 20 batters and walked 7 in his first 19 1/3 innings pitched. He's 4-0 with a 5.59 ERA.

BOBBY SHORE, Right-Handed Pitcher (Seattle Mariners / Clinton, Class A) -- Pitching in Iowa in the Midwest League, the former Oklahoma University Sooner is 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA over 23 1/3 innings. He's struck out 23 and walked 8.

BRANDEN WEBB, Centerfielder (Baltimore Orioles / Delmarva, Class A) -- Webb is batting .253 with 18 doubles,4 triples, 10 home runs, 42 RBIs and 17 steals for 20 attempts playing in the South Atlantic League.

AUSTIN MUEHRING, Right-Handed Pitcher (Cincinnati Reds / Rookie) -- Muehring, who was drafted and signed by the Reds after Palomar's 2012 season, has a 2.08 ERA in his last four appearances for the AZL Reds.

Vincent returns to MLB with strong showing

SAN DIEGO (7-17-2012) -- Palomar alum and right-handed pitcher Nick Vincent, called up from Triple-A Tucson earlier in the day, began his third stint with the Major League San Diego Padres this season in a big way on Monday.

Vincent came in to get the Padres out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam with a strikeout and groundout in the sixth inning and woiund up working 1 2/3 shutout, hitless innings in the Padres' 2-0 ooss to the Houston Astros.

Vincent struck out two batters and walked one. He remains 1-0 in the Major League. He had a had a 1-1 win-lo9ss recordduring his Triple-A stint at Tucson, where he turned in three straight scoreless relief appearances before getting re-called by the Padres.

Sabourin to Alabama; Montanez to CSUSM

TUCSALOOSA, Alabama / SAN MARCOS (7-12-2012) -- Four additional members of Palomar's 2012 baseball team are on their way to the four-year college level, bringing the total to 12.

Oufielder Josh Sabourin, a sophomore outfielder from Torrey Pines High School, is on his way to the University of Alabama.

Rich Montanez (right), a sophomore catcher from Rancho Buena Vista High School, has committed to Cal State San Marcos.

Sabourin led Palomar's 2011 team in hitting with a .358 average before seeing his 2012 season limited due to health issues.

He's the second Comet baseball player to move on to Alabama. Todd Poelstra, a left-handed pitcher, went on from Palomar to play for the Crimson Tide in 1986.

Montanez, who played in the outfield during his freshman season, split catching duties with Audie Afenir, who landed a scholarship to Oral Roberts, as a 2012 sophomore. Montanez had only one error, threw out nine runners trying to steal.and Had only three passed balls.

PHOTOS: Left -- Josh Sabourin is lifted into the air by teammate Mitch Tybroski after Sabourin's two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning clinched the 2011 Pacific Coast Athletic Conference championship with a come-from-behind, 8-6 victory over San Diego City College. Right -- Rich Montanez

Audie Afenir drives a pitch into right-cener for one of two doubles he hit in a 4-1 victory over Southwestern on April 10. Afenir, who led the 2012 Comets in batting wth a .343 average, has accepted a Division I scholarship to Oral Roberts University. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Afenir 10th Comet to move on, to Oral Roberts

SAN MARCOS (7-05-2012) -- Catcher / first baseman Audie Afenir became the 10th 2012 Palomar baseball player to move on to the four-year level on Thursday, accepting a  scholarship offer from traditional Division I power Oral Roberts University.

He's the sixth 2012 Comet to commit to a D-I school.

The Escondido High School product was a two-time All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference first-team selection and led the Palomar's 2012 PCAC co-champions in hitting, batting .343  with eight doubles and two home runs. Afenir started 35 of the Comets' 36 games at either catcher or designated hitter, missing the other game with a concussion..

Afenir had, a .445 slugging percantage and a .400 on-base percentage.

He hit .324 with 17 RBIs and had a 1.000 fielding position as the Comets' starting first baseman in 2011, as a freshman.

Audie Afenir becomes the sixth member of his family to move on from Palomar to the Division I and / or pro levels.

His father, current Comet assistant coach Troy Afenir, signed out of Palomar after being drafted three times in the first or second rounds and was a catcher in the Major Leagues for the Houston Astros, Oakland A's and Cincinnati Reds.

Steve Afenir (uncle) went on from Palomar to play in the outfield for the University of Wyoming. Rick Afenir (uncle) went on to play third base for BYU. Tom "Bit" Afenir  (uncle) went on to play catcher for the University of Mississippi and in the Cleveland Indians organization. Ty Afenir (cousin) accepted a scholarship after his freshman season for the Comets in 2010 and just completed his second season as the starting shortstop at the University of Washinton.

A seventh member of the family, cousin Buck Afenir,  was a catcher for the University of Kansas and played in the New York Yankees organization.

Alex Cox delivers a pitch in Palomar's 4-1 victory over Southwestern on April 10 at Myers Field. Cox, who picked  up the win in relief, is returning to the University of Kansas, where he began his college career. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Cox returns to Kansas to resume Big 12 career

Alex CoxLAWRENCE, Kansas  (7-02-2012) --- Palomar sohomore reliever Alex Cox has transferred back to the University of Kansas, where he'll resume his pitching career in the Big 12 Conference during the 2013 season.

He becomes the ninth player to move on to the four-year level from coach Buck Taylor's 2012 team, and the fifth to Division I.

The 6-foot-5 right-hander, who transferred from Kansas to Palomar prior to the 2012 season, went 1-1 with one sav e and a 2.19 earned run-average coming out of the bullpen for the Comets. He appeared in 11 games, all in relief, and pitched 24 2/3 innings,

After spending most of the con-conference season being converted from a starting role as a freshman at Kansas to a reliever, Cox played a key role in Palomar's run to a Pacific Coast Athletic Conference co-championship. He threw 23 2/3 innings in conference play, primarily as the Comets' set-up man.

As a freshman for the Jayhawks in 2011, Cox appeared in 15 games and was coach Ritch Price's primary Sunday starter. He went 4-4 with a 4.53 ERA for 59 2/3 innings.

He struck out a career-high six batters againswt Oklahoma State on March 20 and notched his first collegiate victory over Nebraska on April 10.

Cox pitched three seasons of varsity baseball for Corona Santiago High School, where he went 6-4 with a 2.29 ERA as a senior in 2010. He was selected by the 38th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2010 draft.

Vincent gets 1st MLB win as Padres down Astros

HOUSTON, Texas  (6-28-2012) --- Palomar's Nick Vincent, the third of four San Diego pitchers, recorded his first Major League pitching win on Thursday night as the Padres rallied to down the Houston Astros 7-3.

Vincent threw the eighth inning, allowing one run on one hit, before the Padres rallied for six runs in the top of the ninth to overcome a 3-1 deficit. Huston Street came in  to pitch the ninth inning.

The four San Diego pitchers combined on a three-hitter.

Vincent had thrown two hitless, scoreless innings on Tiuesday against the Astros in his Major League debut (see below).

Vincent (2 IP, 0 R, 0 H) wows fellow PC alum

HOUSTON, Texas  (6-27-2012) --- Nick Vincent (left) became the first Palomar player since Troy Afenir in his final game for the Cincinnati Reds on July 10, 1992 to appear in a regular-season Major League game on Tuesday night.

The right-handed relieverer, who was called up late Monday from Double-A San Antonio, couldn't  have had a more impressive.Major League debut -- 2 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 2 strikeouts -- in the San Diego Padres' 5-3 loss to the Houston Astros.

"He threw very well, obviously," Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley (right), like Vincent a former Palomar pitcher, said via cell phone from Houston.

Vincent blew down the Astros in the sixth and seventh innings. 

"Most of our relievers are not throwing strikes," Balsley added. "He came in and threw strikes. He went after people. He located his fastball and he located his cutter. We were only going to throw him one inning, but he was so effective -- he only threw 10 pitches -- that we sent him back out there."

Coming in to begin the bottom of the sixth, Vincent retired Jordan Lyles who lined out to second on a cutter. He struck out Brian Binder on three pitches with a called strike on a four-seam fastball, a swinging strike on a cutter and a swiminging strike three with a slider. Vincent completed a 1-2-3 inning by getting Jed Lowrie to fly out to right, coming back with another cutter.

In the seventh, Vincent got Carlos Lee to hit a soft liner to right on a four-seam fastball for out No. 1. Brian Bogumevic walked on a 3-1 count, becoming the only baserunner for Houston in Vincent's two innings. Vincent went 1-0 on Chris Johnson, then struck him out with a slider, a four-seam fastball and a cutter when Johnson swung and missed.. Vincent got the final out of the inning, leaving Bogumevic stranded at first, as he got Jason Castro to loft a routine fly ball to right on yet another cutter.

"Most pitchers consider their hard sliders cutters. Nick throws a true cutter, which is a big advantage," Balsley said.

Vincent was a 20-game career winner for the Comets in 2005-2007 and was drafted and signed by the Padres out of Long Beach State after the 2008 season. He developed the cutter in the Padres farm system.

"(Vincent) showed great poise. That's a lot easeir to do when you're throwing strikes," Balsley added. "He made a very, very good impression."

Balsley, who pitched for the Comets in 1983 and 1984 and saw his own pro career come to a premature end in the Toronto Blue Jays farm system due to an injury, is in his ninth season as San Diego's' pitching coach. The Padres have consistently been among the National League's leaderes in ERA since his arrival.



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Carmichael gets first pro victory in Orlando

ORLANDO, Florida -- Nick Carmichaelo,who was drafted and signed out of Palomar following the 2012 season,notched his first pro pitching win on Wednesday.

Being converted from his closer's role at Palomar to a starter for Detroit's Tigers GSL farm club in Rookie classification Gulf Coast League, Carmichael threw five innings of two-hit, shutout ball to beat the GSL Braves 11-2 at the Disney/ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.

Carmichael struck out four and walked opne. After two starts, he's 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA, striking out 8 and walking 2 in 9 innings.

Vincent is back in Major Leagues with Padres

Nick VincentHOUSTON, Texas  (6-26-2012) --- Former Palomar pitching standout Nick Vincent has been called back up to the San Diego Padres' Major League team and will re-join the Padres tonight (Tuesday) in Houston.

Vincent was with the big-league club for two games of a series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in mid-may at Petco Park but did not appear in either game. His Major League pitching debut could come during the Padres' current series against the Astros in Houston.

Fast-forward to Monday, when the right-hander from Ramona was called up late late in the day from the Padres' San Antonio Missions farm club in the Class AA Texas League.

Vincent was 1-0 with a 1.86 earned run  average for the Missions after joining the club from Class AAA Tucson on June 6. He'd made eight straight scoreless appearances out of the bullpen for San Antonio and had struck out 15 and walked 0 for the Missions in 9 2/3innings.

Vincent was 5-1 as a true freshman at Palomar during the 2005 season, when the Comets finished second in the state community college tournament to Santa Rosa. His season was cut short by an injury and he was granted an injury red-shirt.

Vincent then pitched for the Comets in the 2006 and 2007 seasons and was drafted by the Padres following a standout 2008 season as a junior at Long Beach State.

His most memorable performance at Palomar came on May 13, 2006 when he threw a five-hit shutout to beat Rio Hondo's Bobby LaFromboise 1-0 in a classic pitchers' duel at Myers Field in the opening round of the Southern California community college regional playoffs.

LaFromboise currently is pitching for the Seattle Mariners' Tacoma farm club in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League, where he has a 2.25 ERA and appears primed to join Vincent in the Major Leagues.

At Palomar, Vincent pitched for head coach Bob Vetter in 2005 and for current head coach Buck Taylor, Vetter's pitching coach who followed Vetter as head coach when Vetter retired, in 2006 and 2007.


LEFT: Nick Vincent has made nine consecutive scoreless relief appearances for the San Diego Padres' San Antonio Double-A team. RIGHT: Nick Carmichael, who threw four shutout relief innings in his first appearance for the Detroit Tigers' Rookie Classification club in the Gulf Coast League.

Vincent (8 shutout outings), Carmichael impress

SAN ANTONIO, Texas / LAKELAND, Florida / Other Locations (6-25-2012) --- Palomar alum Nick Vincent, attempting to make it back to the San Diego Padres' Major League roster where he spent two days in mid-May, remains on fire in Double-A.

Meanwhile, ex-Comet Greg Hatley has a similar streak still going in Double-A in the Chicago Cus organization. Nick Carmichael, pitching in Rookie ball in the Detroit Tigers' organization, made a dominant pro debut. And Patrick Smith earned in first professional win in the Arizoina Diamondbacks organization in Advanced Rookie.

NICK VINCENT (Ramona HS, Palomar, Long Beach State) -- The former 20-game career winner for the Comets is working on a streak of eight consecutive scoreless appearances for the Padres' San Antonio Missions club in the Texas League.

Vincent is 1-0 and owns a 1.86 ERA with 15 strikeouts and 0 walks in 9 2/3 innings since arriving from Triple-A Tucson the first week of June.

In his most recent action, Vincent came out of the bullpen on Saturday to blank Midland in a 1 1/30inning stint, allowig 1 hit while strikiing out 2 and walking 0.

NICK HATLEY (Mission Hills HS, Signed out of Palomar) -- Hatley, pitching for the Cubs' Tennessee Smokies farm club in the Southern League, also has made eight consecutive scoreless relief appearances.

Hatley has a 3-1 record, 3 saves and a 2.45 ERA in 20 appearances for the Smokies. In 33 innings, he's allowed only 24 hits while striking out 35 batters and walking 11.

In his most recent appearance, Hatley threw 2/3 of an innings of hitless, scoreless ball vs. Jacksonville on Sunday. 

PATRICK SMITH (Paloma Valley HS, Palomar, Cal Baptist) -- Smith came out of the pen to notch his first pro win on Friday night, throwing 3 innings at Missoula , Montana. The Diamondbacks' Missoula Osprey farm club defeated the Great Falls Voyagers 6-5 in a Pioneer League game.

NICK CARMICHAEL (Rancho Bernardo HS, Palomar) -- Carmichael made his pro debut last Thursday by throwing 4 innings of 2-hit, shutout ball in relief against the Pittsburgh Pirates' Gulf Coast League team in a game at Lakeland, Florida. He struck out 4 and walked 1 for the Tigers' GCL team.

RIVER STEVENS (Mission Hills HS, Palomar) -- Stevens, the Padres' ninth-round draft choice earlier this month, is hitting .313 for his first eight games as the starting second baseman for the Eugene Emeralds farm club in the Class-A short-season Northwest League.

Gavin 8th 2012 Comet to move on to 4-year level

BRONX, New York (6-25-2012) -- Right-handed relief pitcher Matt Gavin has become the eighth 2012 Palomar baseball player to commit to a 4-year program, moving on to NCAA Division I Fordham University.

Gavin is product of Smithtown East High School in St. James, New York who was 7-0 with an ERA of 0.82 as a senior, making third-team all-state.

He transferred to Palomar after one season at Division I Wagner College, where he appeared in 13 games in 2011, striking out 25 batters in 28 innings while pitching against such national high-powered teams as Kent State and St. John's.

At Palomar, Gavin got caught  in a numbers game on a big pitching staff for the 2012 Pacific Coast Athletic Conference champion Comets, appearing in only two games.

Members of Palomar's 2012 team who previously committed and/or signed with 4-year colleges: outfielder Casey Munoz (Santa Clara), right-handed pitcher D.J. Zapata (Santa Clara), first baseman Danny Hawksley (San Diego State), right-handed pitcher Callen Dawson (San Francisco State), right-handed pitcher R.J. Shanks (Cal Poly Pomona), left-handed pitcher Cody Willingham (Abilene Christian) and right-handed pitcher Julian Esquibel (Faulkner).

 Vincent, Hatley, Shore are all hot in the minors

Marcus HatleySAN ANTONIO, Texas (6-19-2012) / PEORIA, Illinois (6-17-2012) / KODAK, Tennessee (6-16-2012) --- Three Palomar alums turned in notable performances in their most recent minor league pitching appearances.

Nick Vincent (left, San Diego Padres organization), Marcus Hatley (second from right, Chicago Cubs organization and Bobby Shore (far right, Seattle Mariners organization) are among 18 ex-Comets currently playing professional baseball.

Tuesday, July 19 -- Vincent has returned to form from an ankle injury in spring training with the Padres' big-league club. He made his sixth straight no-hit, scoreless relief appearance  for the San Anonio Missions on Tuesday evening in San Antonio.

Vincent was slow coting back from the late-March injury, when he stepped on a ball in the bullpen in Peoria, Arizona. He threw his lastest inning of shutout relief as the Missions, the Padres' farm club in the Class AA Texas League, lost to the Corpus Christi Hooks in extra innings at San Antonio. The teams were tied 0-0 through 11 innings before the Hooks pushed across four runs in the top of the 12th.

Vincent, who spent two days with the Major League club but didn't  appear in a game after being called up from Triple-A Tucson in mid-May, has put up nothing but zeros since giving up two runs in his first game after arriving in San Antonio on June 6. He has a 1-0 win-loss record out of the bullpen for the Missions, striking out 12 and walking 0 in 7 1/3 innings.

Vincent, who was drafted and signed by the Padres out of Long Beach State in 2008 after transferring from Palomar, has a 2.45 ERA for the Missions.

Saturday, June 16 -- Hatley is 2-0 with a 1.62 ERA in his last 10 appearances for the Cubs' Tennessee Smokies farm club in the Class AA Southern League.

On Sunday, Hatley pitched two scoreless relief innings to pick up the win as the Smokies defeated the Birmingham Barons 2-1 in Birmingham, Alabama.

For the 2012 season, Hatley is 3-1 for the Smokies  with 2 saves, a 2.59 ERA  and 34 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings.

He originally signed with the Cubs, who drafted him out of Palomar in 2007.

Sunday, June 17 -- Shore made his anticipated 2012 debut for the Mariners' Clinton LumberKings farm club in the Class A Midwest League by throwing blanks at the Peoria Chiefs at Peoria, Illinois.

Shore pitched two shutout relief innings against the Chiefs, allowing one hit, strikinng out 4 and walking 0.

Shore, who pitched Oklahoma to the College World Series as a junior after transferring from Palomar, was drafted and signed by the Mariners following his senior season in 2010.

Austin Muehring

River Stevens

Nick Carmichael


Anthony Renteria

Patrick Smith

Byron "B.K." Santy


Six Comets sign pro contracts following draft

SAN MARCOS (6-13-2012) -- Six current and former Palomar baseball players have signed professional contracts in the wake of last week's baseball draft.

Pitcher Patrick Smith, an undrafted free agent, signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks and reported to the Diamondbacks' Missoula (Montana) farm club of the Class A Short Season Pioneer League on Wednesday.

Middle infielder River Stevens, who was drafted in the ninth round by the San Diego Padres, is listed on the Padres' Eugene, Oregon farm club's roster in the Class A Short Season Northwest League. 

The other ex-Comets who were drafted last week and signed are pitcher Austin Muehring (Cincinnati Reds), pitcher Nick Carmichael (Detroit Tigers), catcher B.K. Santy (Minnesota Twins) and outfielder Anthony Renteria (Padres).

No one in the latter group had been assigned to a minor league team as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Smith, a Paloma Valley High School (Menifee) product who pitched for the Comets in 2009 and 2010, signed with the Diamondbacks out of Cal Baptist University, where he was a senior. He went 16-2 with seven saves over two seasons for the Lancers, who were in transition from NAIA to NCAA division II in 2012. Smith pitched Cal Baptist to the National Christian College Athletic Associationnational championship during the recent season and was the national tournament MVP.

Stevens (Mission Hills High School), who played for the Comets in  2011, signed with the Padres after his sophomore season at  Hancock College, where he played for his uncle, the Bulldogs' head coach, in 2012.

Muehring (Rancho Bernardo High School),also was an outfielder for Palomar during the 2010 and 2012 seasons. He was drafted by the Reds in the 19th round following his recently-completed sohomore season.

Carmichael (Rancho Bernardo), pitched for the Comets the past two seasons. The Tigers drafted him in the 21st round following his sophomore season of 2012, when he tied the Palomar career saves record. He previously was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 17th round following his freshman season at Palomar in 2011.

Santy (Rancho Bernardo), played for Palomar in 2009 and 2010 and has been the starting catcher for the University of Washington the past two seasons. The Twins drafted Santy in the 30th round following his recently completed sophomore season, signing him earlier this week.

Renteria, the son of Padres bench coach Rick Renteria, came to the Comets from Great Oak High School in Temecula and played for the Comets in 2008 and 2009. He red-shirted at UC San Diego in 2010 and played for Cal State San Marcos in 2011 and 2012. He signed with his dad's team after being drafted in the 39th round.

BASEBALL: D-I Alumni Report

Wilkins: 5 1/3 solid innings vs. No. 1 Florida

Ryan WilkinsGAINESVILLE, Florida (6-10-2012) -- Palomar transfer Ryan Wilkins, who beat Vanderbilt twice last week in helping North Carolina State to the championship of the Raleigh Regional, pitched 5 1/3 solid innings against national No. 1 seed Florida in the Super Regional round on Sunday.

Wilkins (5-2), a junior right-hander who played high school baseball for Cathedral Catholic, came on for the Wolfpack in relief.

He was out of the game by the time Florida won 9-8 in 10 innings to advance to the College World Series.


St. John's wastes Bethea's RBI single, misses CWS

Danny BetheaTUCSON (6-9-2012) -- Palomar alum Danny Bethea, who helped lead St. John's to a sweep of North Carolina in the Chapel Hill Regional last week, singled to drive in the Red Wave's first run vs. Arizona in the Super Regionals on Saturday.

Bethea's RBI came in the fifth inning and cut Arizona's lead to 4-1 in a game the Wildcats won 7-4 to advance to the College World Series.

Arizona came from behind to down the Red Wave 7-6 in the Super Regional opener in 10 innings on Friday. Bethea, the starting catcher for St.John's as a junior, was on deck when the game ended.

Hawksley latest Comet to commit -- to Aztecs

SAN DIEGO (6-11-2012) -- Palomar first baseman Danny Hawksley has commited to play for San Diego State.

Hawksley hit .281 with 9 doubles, a home run and 34 RBIs in 31 games for the Comets as a sophomore during the 2012 season.

The Valhalla High School product was a Division I bounceback who spent his freshman season playing for the University of San Diego.

Members of Palomar's 2012 team who previously committed and/or signed with 4-year colleges: outfielder Casey Munoz (Santa Clara), right-handed pitcher D.J. Zapata (Santa Clara), right-handed pitcher Callen Dawson (San Francisco State),right-handed pitcher R.J. Shanks (Cal Poly Pomona), left-handed pitcher Cody Willingham (Abilene Christian) and right-handed pitcher Julian Esquibel (Faulkner).

    B.K. Santy     
From left: Right-handed relief pitcher Austin Muehring, right-handed reliever Nick Carmichael, catcher B.K. Santy, oiutfielder Anthony Renteria and middle infielder River Stevens, the five current and former Pallomar players selected in the 2012 draft. Muehring and Carmichael were sophomores on the Comets' 2012 team. Santy, also pictured below, was a University of Washington senior in his second season as the Huskies' starting catcher. Renteria was a senior outfielder at Cal State San Marcos. Stevens played for the Comets in 2011 and for his uncle, Chris Stevens, at Allan Hancock as a sophomoire during the recent season.

Five current, former Comets selected in draft

santy.jpgSAN MARCOS (6-06-2012) -- Four more Palomar products were selected by Major League teams on Wednesday, giving the Comets a total of five current and former players selected in the 2012 draft.

Wednesday's draft picks were right-handed relief pitcher Austin Muehring (19th round by the Cincinnati Reds), right-handedreliever Nick Carmichael (24th round by the Detroit Tigers), catcher B.K.Santy (30th round by the Minnesota Twins) and outfielder Anthony Renteria (39th round by the San Diego Padres).

Muehring and Carmichael were sophomores on the 2012 Palomar team. Carmichael, who previously was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2011, tied the Comets' career saves record on the last day of the season.

Santy (above, courtesy photo) is a senior at the University of Washington, where he started at catcher for the second straight season. He was considered as one of the Pac-12's best defensive catchers.

Renteria was a senior outfielder for Cal State San Marcos during the recent season.

Middle infielder River Stevens, who saw his freshman season at Palomar in 2011 cut short by an injury and played for his uncle at Allan Hancock College during the recent season, was taken by the Padres in the ninth round on Monday's first day of the draft (see story below).


Padres take former Comet Stevens in 9th round

SAN DIEGO (6-05-2012) -- River Stevens, who played second base for Palomar during the 2011 season, became the first ex-Comet to be selected in the 2012 draft on Tuesday when the San Diego Padres took him in the ninth round.

Stevens was the 295th player selected in the draft.

The Mission Hills High School product batted .267 for Palomar in 20 games during his freshman season, which ended early because of an injury.

 He played  his sophomore season this spring for his uncle Chris Stevens at Allan Hancock College.

PHOTO: North Carolina State relief pitcher Ryan Wilkins (31) delivers past Vanderbilt's Tony Kemp to win the game during the top of the ninth inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament regional game in Raleigh, N.C., Sunday, June 3, 2012. North Carolina State won 6-5. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

Former Palomar pitcher Ryan Wilkins delivers during North Carolina State's victory over Vanderbilt in the championship game of the Raleigh Regional on Monday evening. Wilkins was the winning pitcher for the secibd strauggt dat iver Vandy. He and the Wolfpack play Florida in the Supoer Regionals this upcoming weekend at Gainesville, FL. -- Courtesy Photo

Wilkins pitches NC State to regional crown

RALEIGH, North Carolina (6-04-2012) -- Former Palomar pitcher Ryan Wilkins came out of t he bullpen again to beat Vanderbilt for the second straight night, this time 9-7, to give North Carolina State the championsip of the NCAA Division I Raleigh Regional.

This time, Wilkins threw 4 2/3 shutout relief innings as the Wolfpack rallied for the win. Wilkins,a junior right-hander who pitched for the Comets in 2010 and 2011, scattered three hits and strruck out six as he advanced to 5-2 on the season.

North Carolina State will play Florida on Saturday in Gainesville, Florida, to begin the Super Regionals.

He'll be one of two former Comets playing key roles in the Super Regionals. St. John's catcher Danny bethea and St. Johnson travel to Tucson to play Arizona on Friday evening to open Super Regional play there. Bethea helped lead the Red Wave to the Chapel Hill Regional title with back-to-back wins over North Carolina.

Bethea, Red Wave advance; Wilkins beats Vandy

Danny BetheaRyan WilkinsCHAPEL HILL, North Carolina / RALEIGH, North Carolina (6-03-2012) -- Palomar alum Danny Bethea (left) and St. John's advanced to the NCAA D-I Super Regionals on Sunday, beating North Carolina again 9-5 to sweep the national No. 6 Tarheels and win the Chapel Hill Regional.

The Red Wave went 3-0 and advanced to play Arizona in next weekend's Super Regionals. Betheas, who singled and walked, was named to the Chapel Hill Regional all-tournament team. Bethea slugged a 3-run walkoff HR to beat North Carolina on Saturday (see article below).

In the Raleigh Regional on Sunday night, winning pitcher and ex-Comet Ryan Wilkins (right)  came out of the bullpen to throw one-hit, shutout ball over the last two innings as North Carolina State beat Vanderbilt 6-5 to force a deciding game Monday.. Wilkins (4-2) struck out two and walked none.

Bethea beats North Carolina with walk-off HR

St. John's stuns North Carolina 5-4 in NCAAs photoCHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (6-02-2012) -- Second-generation Palomar standout Danny Bethea (courtesy photos) slugged a walk-off, 3-run home run in the bottom  of the ninth inning Saturday, giving St. John's a 5-4 upset win over North Carolina in the NCAA Division I Chapel Hill Regional.

Bethea, who helped ignite Big East Tournament Champion St. John's to an 11-3 victory over East Carolina Friday (see article, below), drove in four of the Red Storm's five runs against the Tarheels and and five RBIs in the regional. The Red Storm can move on to the Super Regionals with a St. John's stuns North Carolina 5-4 in NCAAs photovictoiry on Sunday night.

On Saturday, Bethea had singled to give St. John's a 1-0 lead over North Carolina in the bottom of the second inning.

The Tarheels battled back and took a 4-2 lead over the Red Storm into the bottom of the ninth when lightning -- in the form of Danny Bethea -- struck.

St. John's would have  lose twice to avoid advancing to the Super Regionals.

Bethea accepted a scholarship to St. John's after helping Palomar win the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference championship in 2011 and advance to the Southern California Community College Super Regionals.

Danny Bethea's Palomar roots run deep. His dad Pete was an impact catcher for Palomar and for an NAIA World Series championship team at Grand Canyon. His mom Colleen played softball for Palomar. Brother Mike was a J.C. Grid-Wire All-American linebacker for the Comets, was an all-WAC selectionr at Nevada, signed with the New Orleans Saints and is now back at Nevada as a football graduate assistant.


Player Pos. College
Ryan Wilkins RHP North Carolina State
B.K. Santy C Washington
Ty Afenir SS Washington
Danny Bethea C St. John's University
Casey Husband C / 1B Santa Clara
Jonathan Davis 3B Kansas State
Trevor Bayless RHP University of San Diego
Kody Sepulveda C Mississippi
Derek Baum C Northern Colorado
Adam Mott RHP New Mexico State
Evan Mott RHP New Mexico State
Patrick Smith RHP Cal Baptist
Mitch Tybroski OF West Texas A&M
Shane Philipps LHP Cal Poly Pomona
Adam Cusek OF Hawaii-Hilo
Alfonso Casillas 1B Lewis-Clark State
Tyler Bernard SS Lindsey Wilson (KY)
Matt Gabrielson 2B Bethany (KS)
Jose Rodriguez 1B Bethany (KS)
Anthony Renteria OF Cal State University San Marcos
Andrew Larsen RHP Cal State University San Marcos
Shawn Sanford LHP Cal State University San Marcos
Alex Meza LHP Cal State University  San Marcos
Scott Myers RHP Cal State University  San Marcos
Victor Martinez OF San Diego Christian
David Ring OF Texas-Tyler



4-Year College

Casey Munoz OF Santa Clara
D.J. Zapata RHP Santa Clara
Danny Hawksley 1B San Digo State
Audie Afenir C /1B Oral Roberts
Tommy Cheek 3B Loyola Marymount
Alex Cox RHP Kansas
Matt Gavin  RHP  Fordham
Callan Dawson RHP San Francisco State
R.J. Shanks RHP Cal Poly Pomona
Cody Willingham LHP Abilene Christian
Julian Esquibel  RHP Faulkner (AL)

2nd-generation Comet helps ignite St. John's

Danny BetheaCHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (6-01-2012) -- Second-generation Palomar standout Danny Bethea (left) helped ignite Big East Tournament Champion St. John's to an 11-3 victory over East Carolina Friday in the Chapel Hill Regional as the NCAA Division I baseball tournament got underway.

The Red Storm's starting catcher as a junior, Bethea doubled, walked, was hit by a pitch, drove in a run and gunned down the only East Carolina runner who attempted to steal.

With the win, St. John's advanced to a second-round match-up vs. North Carolina, a 7-4 winner over Cornell.

Six ex-Comets to begin NCAA D-I Regional play

Ryan WilkinsDanny BetheaRALEIGH, North Carolina / OTHER LOCATIONS (5-31-2012) -- Six former Palomar baseball players will begin the post-season when NCAA Division I Regional action stars Friday,

Norh Carolina State (38-17), with ex-Comet pitcher Ryan Wilkins (left), has the highest seed of the eams featurng former Comets. The Wolfpack is No. 1 seed in the Raleigh Regional it will host.

Other ex-Comets in the Division I Regional field: Cacher Danny Bethea (right, St. John's, 37-21), No. 3 seed in the Chapel Hill Regional; catcher Kody Sepulveda  (Mississippi, 35-24, No. 3 seed in the College Station Regional), pitcher Trevor Bayless (University of San Diego,40-15), No. 2 seed in the Los Angeles Regional), and twin-broother pitchers Adam and Evan Mott (New Mexico State, 35-22 in the Tucson Regional).

Julian Esquibel has accepted a scharship to Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama. -- File photo by Hugh Cox

Esquibel headed south to NAIA power Faulkner

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (5-30-2012) -- Palomar two-time All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference starting  pitcher Julian Esquibel has committed to NAIA power Faulkner University.

Faulkner (40-13) advanced to the NAIA national tournament this season but was eliminated over the weekend by the University of South Carolina - Beaufort, short of its goal of qualifying for the NAIA World Series.

Esquibel, a right-handed Vista High School product, compiled back-to-back earned run averages of 1.73 as a freshman in 2011 and 2.13 as a sophmore in 2012. He went 7-4 as a freshman and was 6-4 as a sophomore.

He signed with San Jose State after his freshman season for the Comets, but left after his arrival to return to Palomar of  confusion over promises made by San Jose's coaches regarding his housing arrangement.

... Left-hander Willingham to Abiline Christian

ABILENE, Texas (6-01--2012) -- Palomar left-handed pitcher Cody Willingham has committed to NCAA Division II Abilene Christian University.

Willingham, a sophomore out of Ramona High School, was 3-3 for the Comets over two seasons.

He went 1-0 last season as a freshman, then was 2-3 with a 3.98 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings this past season as a sophomore.

Willingham went 2-1 with a 3.18 ERA in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference during the recent season. He struck out 10 batters in 11 1/3 conference innings.

... And Shanks commits to Cal Poly Pomona

POMONA (6-02--2012) -- Right-hander R.J. Shanks,who pitched for Palomar the last two seasons, has committed to NCAA Division II Cal Poly Pomona.

Shanks appeared in five games for the Comets in 2012, compiling an ERA of 0.00 while striking out four and walking none over 5 1/3 innings.

As a freshman in 2011, Shanks appeared in seven games, pitching 9 1/3 innings and compiling a 3.86 ERA.

Shanks came to Palomar from traditional CIF San Diego Section prep power Cathedral Catholic High School.

Ex-Comet Patrick Smith, the winning pitcher in the championship game, gives the victory sign atop the Cal Baptist dogpile after the Lancers won the Naional Christian College Athletic Association title on May 19 at Mason, Ohio. Smith was 16-2 with 7 saves in two seasons at Cal Baptist, which holds dual membership in NCAA Division II and the NCCAA. -- Courtesy Photo

National MVP Smith pitches Cal Baptist to title

MASON, Ohio / OTHER LOCATIONS (5-26-2012) -- Palomar baseball alumnus Patrick Smith capped a brilliant two-year career at Cal Baptist University on May 20, pitching the Lancers to the National Christian College Athletic Association Championship.

Smith was named MVP of the NCCAA Natioal Tournament. He threw a complete-game 3-1 victory over Malone College of Canton, Ohio, on May 20, then coming back four days later to throw three dominating shutout innings inn relief to pick up the win in the national championship game as Cal Baptist defeated Oklahoma Wesleyan 6-3.

Smith, a right-hander out of Paloma Valley High School in Menifee, went 16-2 with 7 saves for Cal Baptist.in his two seasons with the Lancers, after pitching for Palomar in 2009 and 2010.

Cal Bapist went 43-13 in its first season in NCAA Division II 2012 after playing Smith's junior season in the NAIA, missing a trip to the NAIA World Series when the Lancers lost to eventual national champion Concordia University of Irvine in the regional finals. Smith had pitched Cal Baptist into the 2011 regional finals with a complete-game win the previous day.

Because it is transitioning from the NAIA to NCAA Division II, Cal Baptist must complete three years in D-II before becoming eligible for post-season competition. But the Lancers hold dual membership in the NCCAA, making them eligible for that organization's national tournament.

Smith went 10-2 with a 3.68 ERA as a senior during the 2012 season, allowing only 78 hits in 85 2/3 innings, striking out 74 and walking 28. In 2011, he was 6-0 with 7 saves and a 2.08 ERA, appearing both as a starter and reliever. He was a full-time starter this past season.

Smith originally signed with Division I nationally-ranked Universioty of San Diego out of Palomar, where he was slated to pitch for Tyler Kincaid, the Toreros' pitching coach who previously held the same post for the Comets. But he accepted a scholarship to Cal Baptist instead due to unexpected financial problems which made his partial scholarship at USD unworkable.

USD's loss was Cal Baptist's gain.


Among ex-Comets in NCAA Division I during the 2012 season, right-handed pitcher Ryan Wilkins is 3-2 with 1 save abd 37 strujeiyts ub 38 2/3 inningsfor North Carolina State.

Jon Davis is Kansas State's third-leding hitter, batting .316 with 6 doubles, t2 triples 4 home runs 15 RBIs for the Wildcats.

B.K. Santy starts at catcher for the second straight season for the University of Washington, hitting .269 with 5 doubles, ,1 riple,2 home runs and 14 RBIs while coming up big defensively.

Ty Afenir is the Huskies starting shortstop  for the second straight season as a junior, also starring defensively.

Danny Bethea, playing catcher in the Big East for St. John's, is hitting .264 with 4 doules, 2 home runs and 25 RBIs.

In the NAIA, Alfonso Casillas is batting .372 with 20 doubles, 10 home runs and 62 RBIs for Lewis-Clark State, which will take a 41-13 record into the NAIA World Series.

First baseman Jose Rodriguez hit .408 with p9 doubles, a triple, 16 homers and 63 RBIs for Bethany College of Kansas.

Charlie Gorzo batted .351 with 11 doubles, a triple, 5 homers and  26 RBIs for Northwest Nazarene.

Anthony Renteria led Cal State San Marcos with 16 home runs.

Tyler Bernard hit .281 for Lindsey-Wilson College of Kentucky.which barely missed a trip to the NAIA World Series.

In NCAA Division III, David Ring is bating l.325 with 8 doubles, 5 triples, 2 home runs and 27 RBIs for the Univerisy of Texas-Tyler.

 Vincent: big return to Triple-A; other updates

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. / TUCSON /  OTHER LOCATIONS (5-21-2012) -- While the Chicago White Sox have moved  Tyler Saladino (left) to the leadoff spot in the order for Double-A Birmingham, pitchers Nick Vincent, Jeff Ibarra and Marcus Hadley are among those also are in the news among Palomar alums in pro baseall.

Vincent, a right-handed pitcher who was called up to the San Diego Padres' Major League roster for two days over the weekend, returned to Triple-A Tucson in the Pacific Coast League on Sunday with a hitless, scoreless relief inning against the visiting Nashville Sounds.

Fresh off a flight from San Diego, Vincent retired the Sounds in order in the seventh inning.

Other updates for former Conets:

Jeff Ibarra -- The left-handed pitcher continues to impress for the Padres' San Antonio farm club in the Class AA Texas League.

Ibarra,who pitched at NAIA national power Lee University after two seasons at Palomar,  has an ERA of 0.67 out of the bullpen with 18 strikeouts and only five walks in 20 2/3 innings.

Marcus Hatley -- Pitching for the Tennessee Smokies in the Class AA Southern League in the Chicago Cubs farm system, Hatley is 1-1 with 1 save, a 2.75 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings.

Tyler Saladino -- The ex-Summit League Player of the Year at Oral Roberts University, rated as one of the top prospects in the White Sox organization, is playing both shortstop and second base at Birmingham. He recently cokmpleted a 10-game streak during which he batted .361 for the Barons.

Bobby Shore -- The former Oklahoma University alum has struck out 76 batters in 70 2/3 innings for the Seattle Mariners' Clinton LumberKings farm club in the Class A Midwest League. Shore has a 3.96 ERA in two seasons in the Mariners organization.


Player Pos. Organization / Team
Nick Vincent RHP Padres / Tucson (AAA)
Marcus Hatley RHP Cubs / Tennessee (AA)
Tyler Saladino INF White Sox / Birmingham (AA))
Jeff Ibarra LHP Padres / San Antonio (AA)
Bobby Shore RHP Mariners / Clinton (A)
Brenden Webb OF Orioles / Delmarva (A)
Joe Ramos INF Independent / Lincoln
Jeff Nettles INF Independent / Somerset
Reece Alnas OF Independent / Hilo
Zane Chavez C Independent / Grand Prarie
Scott Clement C Independent / Rockland
Jeff Tezak INF Austrian Baseball League / Vienna
4-Year College Teams for Players in Pro Baseball -- Nick Vincent, Long Beach State / Tyler Saladino, Oral Roberts / Jeff Ibarra, Lee University / Bobby Shore, Oklahoma / Joe Ramos (Chico State) /  Reece Alnas, Oklahoma Baptist / Scott Clement, UC San Diego, Cal State San Marcos / Jeff Tezak, Nebraska

Comets' Dawson will pitch at San Francisco St.

SAN FRANCISCO (5-21-2012) -- Palomar relief pitcher Callan Dawson (left, photo by Hugh Cox) will move on to the NCAA Division II level at San Francisco State.

Among 2012 sophomores, both outfielder Casey Munoz and starting pitcher D.J. Zapata previously signed with Division I Santa Cl;ara.

In two seasons for the Comets, Dawson, a right-handed side-armer, was 1-0 in 19 appearances out of the bullpen, throwing 19 1/3 innings with a 4.66 ERA.

Dawson pitched for Carlsbad High School.

Padres call up ex-Comet Nick Vincent to majors

SAN DIEGO (5-18-2012) -- The San Diego Padres have called up former Palomar pitcher Nick Vincent. The 26-year-old right-hander will be in uniform when the Padres host the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Friday evening.

He was on the club's 40-man roster in spring training and appeared primed to make the opening-day roster whee he stepped on a loose ball in the bullpen and injured an ankle.

Vincent returned to action this past week, making three appearances in a re-hab stint for Tucson of the Pacific Coast League..

The Padres' Major League pitching coach is another former Comet, Darren Balsley.

Vincent, a Ramona High School product, pitched two full seasons and part of another at Palomar, receiving a medical redshirt due to an arm injury as a true freshman in 2005, when he began the year 5-1. He pitched one season for Long Beach State in 2008 before being drafted and signed by the Padres.

Vincent compiled a Palomar career ERA of 2.11 from 2005-07, second best on the Comets' all-time list. He holds the Palomar record for single-season conference ERA (0.81 in 2005), is second all-time in career wins (20) and second all-time in career strikeouts (195).

After two days, Vincent is back at Tucson

SAN DIEGO (5-20-2012) -- After spending two games in the San Diego Padres bullpen, Palomar aluym was sent back down to Triple-A Tucson on Sunday. He warned up in the sixth inning Friday night in  the Padres'game with the Angels, but didn't get into the game.

Ex-PC and Astro pitcher killed in Mississippi

PEARL, MS  (5-3-2012) -- Former Palomar baseball star Mike Walter, who pitched for seven seasons in the Houston Astros organization and was elevated to the Astros' 40-man Major League roster in 2000, has been killed in the line of duty in Mississipi, where he was a police officer.

Walter came to Palomar from Rancho Bernardo High where he pitched for former Comet Sam Blalock, the winningest high school baseball coach in San Diego County history. He was shot to death as he and two other officers were attempting to serve a warrent on convicted felon and sexual battery suspect Carnell Gaines Jr. Gaines pulled a gun and shot all three officers, killing Walter and wounding the other two. One of the other olfficers was able to return fire, killing Gaines.

Walter, 37, who joined the Pearl Police Dept. in 2008 and was promoted to investigator in 2010, is surved by his wife Jeanne, and 11-year-old daughter Baile.

2012 Season ...

ABOVE: Palomar pitcher Julian Esqjuibel has repeated a an All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference first-team selection. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT:  Nick Carmichael. BELOW RIGHT: Audie Afenir. Both also repeated as first-team selections. Carmichael was named as a relief pitcher, Afenir at designated hitter.

Five Comets, Taylor are honored by conference

SAN DIEGO (5-03-2012) -- Palomar's Buck Taylor shares Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors in baseball with Southwestern's Jerry Barow and San Diego Mesa's Kevin Hazlett. Five Comet players were named to the all-conference first team.

The first-team selections for the PCAC co-champion Comets were sophomore Julian Esquibel at a starting pitcher,sophomore Nick Carmichael at relief pitcher, sophomore Audie Afenir at designasted hitter, sophomore Tommy Cheek at third base and freshman Nico Carbella in the outfield.

Afenir, Carmichael and Esquibel were also first-team picks, as voted by conference coaches, a year ago. Afenir made last season's team as a first aseman.

Esqjuibel (Vista High School), Carmichael (Rancho Bernardo), Afenir (Escondido), Cheek (Cathedral Catholic) and Garbella (Cathedral Catholic) all local high school products. Cheek was a transfer from the University of San Diego.

Palomor's honorable mention selections were Danny Hawksley, Casey Munoz, Alex Cox, Chris Sanders, D.J. Zapata,, Reggie Jones and Kyle Montiel.

After false alarm, Palomar left out of playoffs

SAN MARCOS (4-29-2012) -- Less than 48 hours after they were mistakenly notified that they were the conference's automatic No. 1  playoff seed and would host a best-of-3 first-round series next weekend, Palomar's Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball co-champions found themselves out of the playoffs on Sunday.

The conference  tie-breaker for three teams tying for the championship, when none of them has a season series advantage over the other two, turned out to be best overall season record as opposed to run differential in games played between the three co-ahmpionship teams.

So co-champion Southwestern goes in as the PCAC's  top and San Diego Mesa, the third co-champion, goes in as the conference's second seed. Palomar, which had the worst overall record of the three of 18-18, does not even get a play-in game and the Comets' seaon is over.

Southwestern is seeded No. 8 in SoCal and will host No. 9 El Camino in a best-of-3 series next weekend.  Mesa is seeded 12th and will visit No. 5 seed Glendale in a best-of-3 series. Orange Coast (34-4-1), a team the Comets lost to by one run on the road, will host a series against the winner of a play-in game Tuesday betweeen Los Angeles Valley,another foe Palomar lost to by one run, and Bakersfield.

ABOVE: Chris Sanders singles to left field to drive in Tommy Cheek in the second inning, extending Palomar's lead to 3-0. Sanders added another RBI single in the fourth inning to give the Comets their fifth run of the afternoon. BELOW RIGHT: University of Kansas transfer Alex Cox, who has become the Comets' key set-up man after being the Jayhawks' Sunday starter last season, delivers a pitch in the eighth inning. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. LOWER LEFT: Starter and winning pitcher Julian Esquibel. LOWER RIGHT: Reggie Jones, who had three hits in the game.

Comets tie for title, cap improbable late run

CHULA VISTA -- (4-27-2012  (UPDATED 4-28) -- Palomar capped an improbable late-season run Friday by beating Soiuthwestern 5-1 in a rain make-up to tie for the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball championship.

The Comets, pronounced dead on multiple occasions during a season which saw them struggling at seven games under .500 on March 28, share the title with the Jaguars and San Diego Mesa. The Olympians lost 3-1 at Grossmont on Friday.

Palomar is hoping to advance to the Southern California playoffs as an at-large team, as the conference's No. 3 representative (the tie-breaker for a three co-champions is overall winning percentage). It was incorrectly reported on the conference level on Friday that the tie-breaker was run-differential among the co-champions.

The Comets, who won 7 of their last 8 regular-season games and 10 of their last 12, got outstanding pitching from winner Julian Esquibel, who .threw seven innings of one-run, six-hit ball, and relievers Alex Cox and closer Nick Carmichael.

Carmichael, appearing in a non-save situation, came on to to get the last three outs of the afternoon on two groundouts and a strikeout, the latter when Southwestern's Sammy Montalvo looked at a called third.

Reggie Jones led Palolmar at the plate by going 3-for-5. Chris Sanders went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Tommy Cheek was 2-for-3 with a sacrifrice bunt and also reached base as a hit-batter. Danny Hawksley went 2-for-5 and drove in a run. Audie Afenir and Casey Munoz also hit safely.

Palomar won the season series from Southwestern, which won the tie-breaker for the conference's No  1 playoff seed, 5 games to 0.

ABOVE: Winning pitcher Cody Willingham, who threw four shutout relief innings to close out the game, deals agaionst San Diego City College on Tuesday. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Brett Clark, who drove in the winning run. BELOW RIGHT: Casey Munoz, whowse RBI single tied the game at 1-1 in the eighth and sent it to extra innings.

PC wins another one in 14th, retains title hopes

SAN MARCOS (4-24-2012) -- For the second straight game, the Palomar baseball team won on a walk-off hit in the 14th inning at Myers Field on Tuesday, this time 2-1 over San Diego City College on a single by Brett Clark.

Clark's hit went to right field and drove in Austin Muehring, in the game as a pinch-runner for Audie Afenir, who had singled to right with one out.

That gave Cody Willingham, Palomar's fourth pitcher of the game, the win and keeps the Comets alive in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference race with one game to play, on Thursday at Southwestern.

The Jaguars, a 14-3 winner over Grossmont and San Diego Mesa, a 14-2 winner over Impeial Valley, are tied for the conference lead, one game ahead of the Comets.

A Palomar win over Southwestern and a Grossmont upset over Mesa on Thursday, with ace pitcher Jack Disbro going for the Griffins, would create a three-way tie for the championship. A Palomar win and a Mesa win would hand the title to the Olympians and leave the Comets and Jaguars tied for second. Disbro (6-2, 1.67 ERA) beat the Olympians 14-1 last week.

A Southwestern win and a Mesa loss would give the championship to the Jaguars, with the Olympians finishing second and the Comets finishing third.

City took a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the top of the first inning, but starter D.J. Zapata and relievers Alex Cox, Nick Cunningham and Willingham shut out the Knights over the next 13 innings. Willingham came on with a runner at first and none out in the 11th and blanked City College the rest of the way.

Palomar tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth on Nico Garbella's double to lead off the inning, Reggie Jones' single to right and Casey Munoz' single to left which scored Garbella.

Afenir's hit led off the bottom of the 14th. With Daniel Lack, who normally would pinch-run for the Comets in that situation, in surgery at Sharp Hospital in San Diego after severing a tendfinal outon in a finger on his right hand in a non-baseball accident, Muehring ran for Afenir.

Tommy Cheek grounded back to the pitcher, who threw wildly to second trying to get Muehring. The play went as a fielder's choice and an error, and Clark followed with his walk-off hit.

Danny Hawksley went 2-for-3 with a walk in the game, and Garbella was part of back-to-back big defensive plays which defused a possible San Diego rally in the top of the fourth.

Garbella fielded a well-hit single by Kevn Garcia and, as Garcia tried to stretch his hit into a double,rifled the ball to the cutoff man, second-baseman Jones, who relayed the ball to Johnson at short. Johnson tagged out Garcia. Garbella then ran up the foot of the right-field bank to rob the next batter, Slater Putland, of an extra-base hit.

And Cox, the Comets' second pitcher of the day, picked off the Knights Alex Wick at first base on a first-and-third situation  for the final out in the top of the sixth.

ABOVE: Reggie Jones (2) heads home with the winning run on a walk-off single by Tommy Cheek (4) in the bottom of the 14th innings Saturday vs. Grossmont. BELOW: The Comets celebrate the victory, which keeps them alive in the PCAC championship race wtih two games to play. -- Photos by Deb Hellman. BELOW LEFT: Rusty Edwards, who pitched 4 1/3 hitless, scoreless innings to finish the game and record the win. BELOW RIGHT: Nico Garbella, who went 5-for-7 for the Comets.

Cheek's 14th-inning hit keeps PC alive in race

SAN MARCOS (4-21-2012) -- Nico Garbella went 5-for-7 and drove in two runs, Casey Munoz was 3-for-6 with a key double and a hit-by-pitch and Chris Sanders was 3-for-5 and also was hit by a pitch, Along the way, Palomar stayed alive in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball race Saturday.

Tommy Cheek singled to center with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 14th inning, driving in Reggie Jones with the winning run as the Comets rallied from an early 5-1 deficit at Myers Field to beat Grossmont 7-6.

Freshman left-hander Rusty Edwards pitched 4 1/3 innings of two-hit, shutout relief to record the victory. Edwasrd's dominance -- he struck out five and walked none -- capped a huge day by the Palomar bullpen that also included big performances from Kyle Montiel, Alex Cox and Nick Carmichael.

Palomar remains one game behind co-leaders Southwestern, a 6-2 winner over Imperial Valley, and San Diego Mesa, which beat San Diego City College 7-6 in11 innings. with two games remaining. The Comets host City College on Tuesday and close the regular season at Southwestern on Thursday, both at 2 p.m.

With one out in the bottomj of the 14th, Jones singled to left-center. Munoz banged an -opposite-field double to righ,t and Grossmont walked Audie Afenir intentionally to set up Cheek's game-winning hit.

Palomar also got big performance from catcher Rich Montanez, who threw out three runners tryng to steal, picked off a runner at first for the final out in the fourth inning and went 2-for-6 at the plate with a double and an RBI.

Ditto for Afenir, who was 2-for-5 with a hit-by-pitch and the intentional walk.

Jones also got down a pair of sacrifice bunts and, Christian Johnson got down one and, even though the Comets were hurt by three early errors in the first seven innings, they got some spectacular defensive plays from Johnson at shortstop and Sanders in center field.

Palomar banged out 16 hits.

The Comets overcame five hit-batters, four of them in the first four innings when the Griffins took their early 5-1 lead.

PC's collective backs at wall after loss to Mesa

SAN DIEGO (4-19-2012) -- Palomar's destiny in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball race is no longer in its own hands -- at least against San Diego Mesa.

The Olympians defeated the visiting Comets 4-1 on Thursday, one day after Palomar had beaten Southwestern to move into a three-way tie for first.

Chris Sanders (left) made two outstanding catches in center field, one racing back towards the fence in dead center and one coming in just in back of second base. But the Comets played perhaps their worst game of the season defensively except for that.with four errors coming at the worst possible times, coupled with some non-plays..

Palomar, trailing 4-0, finally got on the board in the top of  the ninth. Sanders led off with a sharp single to leftadvanced to second when Casey Munoz was hit by a pitch, moved to third on Audie Afenir's fielder's choice and scored on Tommy Cheek's sacrifice fly.

Afenir singled in the first inning and Cheek singled in the fourth for the Comets' only other its off two Mesa pitchers.

Starter Julian Esquibel, Callen Dawson and Rusty Edwards (right) all pitched effectively for Palomar, but defense and lack of hitting did the Comets in.

The Comets now trail Southwestern, a 3-2 winner over San Diego City College, and Mesa by one game with three to play.

The Comets don't play Mesa again and lost the teams' season series four games to one.

Palomar leads its season series with the Jaguars 4-0, with one game between the two teams remaining.

Head-to-head tie-breakers to determine ppost-season regionaol pairings aredetermined by  head-to-head results.

ABOVE: Winning pitcher Cody Willingham fires to the plate in Wednesday's 4-3 victory over Southwestern. -- Photo by Deb Hellman. BELOW LEFT: Chris Sanders, who went 2-for-3 and contributed a sacririce bunt. BELOW RIGHT: Closer Nick Carmichael, who notched his sixth save

Comets rally to move into tie for PCAC lead

SAN MARCOS (4-18-2012) -- Palomar, given up for dead late in the season, won again on Wednesday, coming from behind to beat Southwestern 4-3 in a Pacific Coast Athletic Conference make-up game at Myers field.

Tommy Cheek sparked the comeback with the biggest hit of the afternoon, Chris Sanders broke out of a slump by going 2-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt. And Nick Carmichael notched save No. 6 with another dominating closing performance. in relief of winning pitcher Cody Willingham.

It was the Comets' fourth straight win and seventh victory in their last nine games. And, coupled with Grossmont's 14-1 upset of San Diego Mesa, the win puts Palomar into a three-way tie for the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference lead with Southwestern and Mesa with four games to play.

That sets up a huge game at Mesa on Thursday at 2 p.m., in which the Comets have an opportunity to knock the Olympians out of their tie for first.

The Comets had their share of heros as they came back from a 3-0 deficit entering the sixth.Palomar, trailing 1-0, tied the game in the bottom of the sixth as Nick Carbella singled to left with one out, moved up on Chris Sanders' ground-ball single through a huge gap on the right side of the infield and scored on Casey Munoz' RBI fielders choice ground-ball to third.

wesern errors and back-to-back singles by Reggie Jones and Christian Johnson, allowed the Comets to score three times in the inning as they wenrt in front 4-3.

Palomar made the lead stand up for the victory as Willingham threw three scoreless, hitless innings to record the pitching win, battling his way through four walks. Carmichael came on to record his second 1-2-3 ninth inning in two days for the save, retiring the top of the Jaguars' order on a ground out, a called third strike and another ground out.

Montanez also had a single for Palomar.

ABOVE: Palomar pinch-runner Matt Silberman steals third base in the sixth inning. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Nico Garbella, who had two doubles, a single and two RBIs for the Comets. BELOW RIGHT: Nick Carmichael, who struck out the side in the ninth for his fifth save -- and third in the last week

Palomar moves to within 1 game of PCAC lead

SAN MARCOS (4-17-2012) -- Palomar's late-charging baseball team moved to within one game of first place in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference with five games to play on Tuesday, eating visiting Imperial Valley 6-3 at Myers Field.

The Comets have closed to a game behind Southwestern and San Diego Mesa, who are tied for the conference lead for the conference lead after the Jaguars defeated the Olympians 1-0. Palomar hosts Southwestern in a rain make-up on Wednesday and will play a regularly-sched game against Mesa on Thursday in San Diego,

Right fielder Nico Garbella was the offensive star for Palomar, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs. Casey Munoz and Christian Johnson both were 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Clayton Voechting, the first of five Palomar pitchers, threw seven-plus innings to pick up the victory, while Nick Carmichael, who is coming on strong at the end of the season, struck out the side in the ninth for his fifth save.

Danny Hawksley, Brett Clark, Tommy Cheek and Reggie Jones also hit safely for the Clomets.

Palomar's execution in the sixth allowed the Comets to score three times in the inning and break open a 2-1 game.

The Comets bunted successfully four times in the inning, including consecutive squeeze bunts by Jones, Johnson and Garbella that drove in the three runs. Jones' and Johnson's squeeze's both went for singles when IVC failed to cover first base on back-to-back plays.

Munoz and Cheek both singled iln the fourth inning, when the Comets tied the game at 1-1 after trailing early.

And Palomar added its final run in the bottom of lthe eighthon an error, another sacrifice bunt by Jones, a ground out and an RBI double by Garbella that drove in pinch-runner Daniel Lack.

Audie Afenir also got down a straight sacrifice unt furing the sixth-inning rally, giving the Comets six succesful sacrifrices for the afternoon.

 Comets move within 1 game of 2nd, 2 of 1st

CHULA VISTA (4-12-2012) -- Palomar, which came on late in the season to win the Pacific Coast Athletic Association baseball championship last season, may be getting hot at the right time again.

The Comets, who have lost 10 one-run games and have encountered  frustration at almost every turn all season long, defeated Southwestern for the second time in three days, 3-2 on Thursday afternoon.

Tommy Cheek (left) drove in pinch-runner Daniel Lack from second with the winning run with one out in the top of the ninth. That gave reliever Austin Muehring, who faced two batters,  the pitching win and Nick Carmichael (right), who retired the side in the bottom of the inning, his fourth save.

Lack was running for Audie Afenir, who had singled and alertly advanced to second when Southwestern's right fielder bobbled the ball. Afenir went 2-for-4 and so did Casey Munoz, who drove in Nick Garbella, who doubled on the first pitch of the game to give Palomar an early 1-0 lead.

Starter Julian Esquibel pitched seven strong innings to put the Comets in a position to win the game. Clayton Voechting relieved him to begin the eighth. Voechting surrendered the tying run before being relieved by Muehring later in the inning -- but picked Southwestern's James Bilburg off second base in what turned out to be one of the biggest plays of the afternoon.

It was only Palomar's third road win of the year, but it moved the Comets to within one game of the second-place Jaguars and two games of first-place San Diego Mesa, a 6-1 loser at Grossmont, in the PCAC race with six games remaining.

The Comets lead their five-game series with the Jaguars three games to none, which clinches the teams' season series and gives Palomar the tie-breaker entering the post-season if the teams finish in a tie in the standings.

With another game remaining Saturday at Myers Field, weather permitting, it's been a good week for Palomar and a bad week for Southwestern.

On Wednesday, the Comets beat the Jaguars 4-1. 


ABOVE: University of Kansas transfer Alex Cox, who earned the win by throwing 2 1/3 no-hit, scoreless relief innings, delivers a pitch.in the top of the seventh. BELOW LEFT: Center fielder Chris Sanders comes all the way in to catch a pop-up by the Jaguars' Andres Enriquez in the second inning. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. BELOW RIGHT: Danny Hawksley, who matched Southwestern's hit total for the game by going 3-for-4.

Pitchers, Afenir help PC knock Jags out of first

SAN MARCOS (4-10-2012) -- Starter D.J. Zapata, Alex Cox, Rusty Edwards, Austin Muehring and closer Nck Carmichael pitched a combined three-hitter on Tuesday at Myers Field as Palomar's baseball team knocked off Southwestern 4-1.

The loss bounced the Jaguars out of a tie for first-place in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference with San Diego Mesa, which  leads Southwestern by a game after defeating Grossmont 3-2. Palomar is now alone in third, two games behind the Jaguars and three behind the Olympians with seven games remaining. The two teams are scheduled to play again on Thursday at Southwestern and on Saturday back at Myers field.

On a day Danny Hawksley matched the Jaguars' hit total by going 3-for-4, Audie Afenir returned to the line-up and was the Comets' hitting star for the afteroon. He went 2-for-3 with two doubles to right-center, the first one to break a 1-1 tiei in the sixth inning. Hawksley, who had singled, scored on the play.

Sidlined for a game after being hit in the head with a pitch last week, Afenir also reached base as a hit batter -- and played a big defensive role as he gunned down Southwestern's Stephen Johnson trying to steal in the second inning.

Palomar, geating up for a stretch run, played perhaps its best all-around game of the season. Zapata, Cox and Carmichael made a series of big defensive plays on the mound. The Comets got two huge extra-base hits late in the game that helped put Southwestern away -- Afenir's seventh-inning double to drive in Hawksley, aboard on his third single, and another booming double by Christian Johnson to right-center in the seventh.

Johnson advanced to third and then scored on key back-to-back sacrifice bunts by Nico Garbella and Chris Sanders. Sanders got down a perfect push bunt to the right side of the infield on a suicide squeeze that drove in the Conets' fourth run.

Zapata sarted and breezed through the first five innings, allowing only one hit. Southwestern got the first two runners on in the sixth on a single and an infield error. Palomar coach Buck Taylor went to his bullpen for transfer reliever Alex Cox.

The Jaguars scored an unearned run to tie the game in the inning. But Cox, who was the University of Kansas' Sunday starter a year ago, threw 2 1/3 dominant no-hit, shutout innings to record the pitching win.

Cox, Edwards, Muehring and Carmichael, who notched the save with a 1-2-3 ninth,combined on four hitless, scoreless innings.

Garbella, Tommy Cheek and Reggie Jones also hit safely for Palomar.

 Comets tagged with 10th one-run loss of year

SAN DIEGO (4-6-2012) -- Palomar, which has made repeated unsuccesful efforts to jump-start a stretch run, still remains unable to string together  more than two straight victories as the wild Pacific Coast Athletic Conference race winds down.

On Friday at Morley Field, right-handed pitcher Clayton Voechting (left) handcuffed San Diego City College for almost the entire afternoon only to lose a 2-1 heartbreaker to the Knights.

It was Palomar's 10th one-run loss of the season as the Comets again find themselves a game under .500 in conference and back in a tie for Grossmont, a 5-1 winner over Southwestern, in third place.

The Jaguars and San Diego Mesa, which avenged a Thursday toss bvy holding off Imperial Valley 4-3, are again tied for first place, with the Comets and Griffins three games back with just eight ames to play.

San Diego put together three of its six hits off Voeching and Nick Carmichael to score both of its runs in the second inning.,

Playing without leading season hitter Audie Afenir, who was hit in the head by a pitch in Thursday's win over the Knights, Palomar managed only four hits Friday off two City College pitchers.

Reggie Jones (right) got the Comets their only run when he doubled in the fifth inning to drive in Nico Garbella, who had walked.

Tommy Cheek had two of the four Palomar hits, singling in  the seventh inning and doubling in  the ninth.

Chris Sanders doubled in the sixth for the other Palomar hit.

Carmichael relieved Voechting with one out and one runner on in the eighth inning. The first batter he faced got on via an infield lthrowing error, putting runners at first and third.

Carmichael got Justin Atterbury to hit a ground ball back to the mlound for a double-play that gave the Comets an opportunity to win or tie the game in the top of the ninth, still trailing by only one run.

Cheek doubled to left with one out, but San Diego reliever Cole Chandler got Garbella to fly out to right and Jones to ground out to short, stranding pinch-runner Brett Clark at third.

The Comets will play co-leader Southwestern in a three-game series next week, beginning on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Myers Field.

ABOVE: Starter and winner Julian Esquibel pitches against San Diego City College in Palomar's 8-4 victory on Thursday at Myers Field. -- Photo by Hugh Gerhardt. BELOW LEFT: Nico Garbella, who  had two hits, drove in two runs and made a spectacular catch in right field. BELOW RIGHT: Alex Cox, who finished the game with four shutout relief innings.

Cox' 4 relief innings, Garbella's catch lead way

SAN MARCOS (4-05-2012) -- Nico Garbella left his feet to make a spectacular catch in right field and Alex Cox threw four shutout relief innings to record his first save at Myers Field on Thursiday as Palomar held off San Diego City College 8-4.

The win,coupled with Imperial Valley's 7-5 upset of San Diego Mesa and Southwestern's 6-0 victory over Grossmont, puts the Comets alone in third place in the PCAC, two games behind second-place Mesa.

Garbella's catch for the final out of the fifth inning robbed City College's Slater Putland of an extra-base hit and prevented the Knights, who had battled back from 5-0 and 6-1 deficits to close to 6-4, from tying the game.

Danny Hawksley (2-for-3, two doubles, hit-by-pitch, RBI), Rich Martinez (2-for-4, double, RBI), Garbella (2-for-4, 2 RBIs, steal) and Casey Munoz (2-for-5, hit-by-pitch) led an 11-hit attack for the Comets off three City pitchers. Reggie Jones and Tommy Cheek each doubled and drove in two runs.

Christian Johnson added a single and made two 360-degree fielding plays. On the first play, he threw to first base to get an out. On the second one, he stepped on second for an out, then threw to first to complete a double play.

Chris Sanders was robbed of a line-driver single to right when the Knights' Alex Wick, taking advantage of how quickly the hard-hit ball got to him, threw the ball to first to get Sanders by a step.

Starter Julian Esquibel picked up the pitching win for Palomar, advancing to 5-3 on the season.

The Comets and Knights will play the rubber game of their three game series on Friday at Morley Field in Balboa Park, beginning at 2 p.m.

Afenir 3-for-5 with 2 RBIs but PC can't hold lead

SAN DIEGO (4-3-2012) -- Palomar couldn't keep a good thing going on Tuesday as the Comets surrendered a three-run seventh inning to lose both the lead and the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball game to San Diego City College 5-4 at Morley Field.

It was Palomar's ninth one-run loss of the season.

Audie Afenir (left) went 3-for-5 and drove in two runs in the loss, while Austin Muehring (rifght)  threw 1 1/3 hitless innings to finish the game for the Comets. But, by the time Muehring came into the game, the damage had been done.

The Comets made a futile effort to come back in the top of the ninth, when Chris Sandersdoubled  with one out and Danny Hawksley doubled with two out to drive him in. But Daniel Lack, pinch-running for Hawksley, was left stranded at second.

Palomar wasted an 11-hit attack off three City College pitchers and was unable to hold starter D.J. Zapata's 3-2 lead through five innings.

Christian Johnson and Reggie Jones each went 2-for-4 for the Comets, who again dipped under .500 in the PCAC race at 7-8 with 10 conference games to play. Nico Garbella and Casey Munoz each contributed an RBI single.

The same two teams will play again on Thursday at Myers Field and on Friday back at Morley Field, both days at 2 p.m.

Voechting stops Grossmont with a 6-hitter

EL CAJON (3-31-2012) -- Right-hander Clayton Voechting (left) pitched a complete-game six-hitter and Tommy Cheek (right) homered, giving Palomar its second win in three days over Grossmont on Saturday 8-1.

Voechting dominated the Griffins from beginning to end, and finished with a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the ninth. The sophomore from Chaparral High School in Temecula retired Grossmont's batters in the inning with a strikeout, pop-up and another strikeout.

Cheek (2-for-5, two RBIs), Nico Garbella (2-for-4, two RBIs) and Audie Afenir (2-for-4, RBI) also had multiple hits as Palomar got to three Grossmnt pitchers for seven hits to even its conference record at 7-7.

Dan Hawksley contributed a double and an RBI. Chris Sanders had a single and an RBI. Rich Montanez and Reggie Jones also singled.

The Comets, still tied for third place and two games behind conference co-leaders Southwestern and San Diego Mesa, have a three-game series with San Diego College coming up this week.

They'll face City at Morley Field in Balboa Park on Tuesday and Friday, sandwiched around a home game with the Knights on Thursday, all at 2 p.m.

Zapata will become 3rd Comet at Santa Clara

SAN MARCOS (3-30-2012) -- Right-handed pitcher D.J. Zapata has committed to Santa Clara University and will become the third Palomar baseball product on scholarship on next year's Broncos team.

Zapata, who also was recruited by Virginia Tech, will join ex-Comets Casey Husband,, who his currently at Santa Clara, and current Palomar teammate Casey Munoz, who signed early with the Broncos, on the 2013 Santa Clara team.

Zapata, who spent two seasons as a football quarterback at the University of Montana, one as a red-shirt, and this past Fall as a QB at Palomar, is pitching this season for the first time since his senior season at Mission Hills High School  in 2009. He has a 2.25 ERA on the season (1.37 with a 1-1 record in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference).

Esquibel halts PC slide, beats G-House 7-2

SAN MARCOS (3-29-2012) -- Julian Esquibel (left) pitched a complete-game victory and Rich Montanez (right) led the way offensively by going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a walk as Palomar rebounded into the baseball victory column on Thursday, beating Grossmont 7-2 at Myers Field.

The victory ended two weeks of frustration for the Comets, who suffered their eighth one-run loss of the season on Wednesday at Grossmont, 5-4 in 10 innings. Palomar hadn't won since it downed Imperial Valley 10-4 at Myers Field on March 13.

Esquibel overcame one bad inning, when the Griffins scored both their runs in a two-run, three-hit fourth, in the complete-game win as he advanced to 4-3 on the year.

Montanez, the Comets' catcher, ended the Griffins' rally when he gunned down Grossmont's Lauren Greenwood attmpting to steal second base with two outs.

Danny Hawksley doubled in a run and walked, Reggie Jones doubled and walked, Bico Garbella had a single and sacrifice fly, Chris Sanders singled and walked, and Audie Afenir singled as the Comets made the most of a seven-hit attack off four G-Housae pitchers.

The Comets remain two games behind PCAC co-leaders Southwestern, a 9-1 winner of Imperial Valley, and San Diego Mesa, which held off San Diego City College 3-2.

Palomar will travel to Grossmont for the rubber game of this week's three-game series on Saturday at noon. 

Palomar falls in 10 despite Zapata's pitching

EL CAJON (3-28-2012) -- Palomar got an outstanding starting pitching performance from D.J. Zapata (left) on Wednesday but he was long gone by the 10th inning, when the Comets lost another Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball decision, this one 5-4 to Grossmont.

Zapata threw two-hit, shutout ball over the first five innings and departed at that point with the Comets on top of the Griffins 2-0.

Palomar would eventually make five errors, still take a 4-3 lead in the top of the 10th but see Grossmont score the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the inning.

Alex Cox eventually took the loss, allowing one earned run in 4 1/3 relief innings.

The Comets managed only five hits, all singles. Christian Johnson (right) went 2-for-4  Audie Afenir, Danny Hawksley and Tommy Cheek also hit safely.

It was Palomar's eighth one-run loss of what has been a frustrating season.

The two teams will play again on Thursday at 2 p.m. at Palomar.

Palomar freshman center fielder Chris Sanders is the PCAC Men's Athlete of the Week for all sports. -- Photos by Hugh Cox

Sanders PCAC's Athlete of Week for all sports

SAN MARCOS (3-26-2012) -- Chris Sanders, Palomar's baseball center fielder, has been honored as the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Men's Athlete of the Week for all sports.

Sanders, a freshman from Murrieta Valley High School, is hitting .536 for his last 28 at bats through the weekend, with 15 hits, three walks, a hit-by-pitch, five steals on five attempts and a sacrifice bunt.

In going 11-for-15 in a four-game span culminating with a game last Thursday, Sanders went 2-for-4 with a walk and two stolen bases on two attempts in the first game of a doubleheader vs. Imperial Valley.

In the second game against IVC, Sanders went 3-for-5 and was 3-for-3 in stolen bases.

He went 2-for-2, was hit y a pitch and had a sacrifice bunt againsst San Diego Mesa.

And he went 4-for-4 the following day in another game with Mesa.

Although he's recently caught fire at the plate, Sanders has been outstanding defensively all season, with one error on 40 attempts. He's thrown out two runners at the plate and has made multiple diving catches to prevent hits and run.

He's batting .378 in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference, which ranks him third among conference hitters.

A year ago, in his senior season for the Murrieta Valley Nighthawks, Sanders batted .387 with a .505 slugging percentage.

BASEBALL: Olympians 10, Comets 2

7-run 2nd dooms Comets, but they stay one out

SAN MARCOS (3-24-2012) -- Palomar played its best overall baseball game in recent weeks on Saturday, but couldnn't overcome San Diego Mesa's seven-run second inning and lost 10-8 at Myers Field.

This was despite mounting a 14-hit attack against six Mesa pitchers, led by Audie Afenir (left, 2-for-5, solo home run, double), Reggie Jones 3-run homer), Josh Sabourin (right, 3-for-4), Casey Munoz (3-for-4, 2 RBIs) and Danny Hawksley (2-for-4).

The loss was the bad news. The good news is that the Comets, despite dropping their fiftth game in a row, remain only one game out in the topsy-turvy Pacific Coast Athletic Conference race.

With Imperial Valley knocking off Grossmont 3-2 and San Diego City College beating Southwestern 4-0, all six teams are now within one game of each other 11 games into a 25-game conference season.

Grossmont, Southwestern and Mesa are all 6-5 in conference. Palomar, Impeial Valley and San Diego City are 5-6. Palomar will play a three-game series against Grossmont, on the road on Wednesday, at home Thursday and back on the road on Saturday. Wednesday's game was switched from Tuesday due to wet conditions at Grossmont's field and now will e played at 3 p.m.

The Comets took a 1-0 lead on Afenir's home  run over the leftfield fence in the bottom half of the first, but that just set the stage for Mesa's seven-run second inning.

Christian Johnson added an RBI single and Chris Sanders also singled for the Comets against the Olympians.

Kyle Hansen, a former Comet, had an RBI double and a two-run triple to highlight Mesa's second inning

Christian Johnson added an RBI single and Chris Sanders also singled for the Comets against the Olympians.

Kyle Hansen, a former Comet, had an RBI double and a two-run triple to highlight Mesa's seven-run second inning

ABOVE: Palomar's Chris Sanders singles to center in the fifth inning for his third of four hits against San Diego Mesa on Thursday in San Diego. BELOW: Reliever Callan Dawson delivers a pitch in the bottom of  the eighth. He retired the Olympians 1-2-3 in the inning. -- Photos by Hugh Cox

Sanders (4-for-4) still on fire, but Comets lose

SAN MARCOS (3-22-2012) -- Center fielder Chris Sanders remained on fire on Thursday, going 4-for-4, but Palomar's baseball team stayed as cold as Sanders is hot.

The Comets, leading 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth, lost to San Diego Mesa for the second straight day, this time 4-1. The Olympians scored three runs in the sixth and one in the seventh with the big blow a two-run, sixth-inning double by former Comet Kyle Hansen..Hansen then scored the Olympians' third run from second base on a bunt-and-run play.

Sanders, a freshman from Murrieta Valley High School, is 6-for-6 for Palomar's two games so far this week and has hit safely 14 times in his last 18 at-bats.

Palomar, which fell to 8-13 on the season and 5-5 in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference, took a 1-0 lead in the third inning as Sanders singled to right, went to second on Reggie Jones' bunt single back to the pitcher, moved to third on Casey Munoz' sacrifice bunt and scored on Audie Afenir's grounball to the right side.

But the Comets only got a runner in scoring position once the rest of the day, in the seventh when Rich Montanez singled and went to second on Christian Johnson's grounder to the first baseman.

But Montanez was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Sanders' single to centter.

Danny Hawksley singled twice, while Afenir and Jones also singled for the other Palomar hits.

Julian Esqjuibel, the first of three Palomar pitchers, took a one-hitter into the sixth but left the game during the inning. He struck out seven batters and walked one through 5 1/3 innings.

Callan Dawson, the final Palomar pitcher of the day, retired the Olympians in order in the bottom of the eighth.

The Comets will try again to get back on the right track when the two teams meet again on Saturday at noon at Myers Field.

 ABOVE: Kyle Hansen, who spent two seasons at Palomar as a red-shirt and then as an outfielder on the 2011 team, slides in safely at home in the fifth inning. Palomar pitcher Rusty Edwards attempts to apply the tag on a throw from catcher Audie Afenir. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Chris Sanders, who went 2-for-2 and stole a base for the Comets. BELOW RIGHT: University of Kansas transfer Alex Cox, who pitched three one-hit relief innings but was tagged with the loss on an unearned run in the seventh

Comets holding onto tie for first after 3-2 loss

SAN MARCOS (3-21-2012) -- Palomar gets a chance to get a bad taste out of its mouth when it gets a rematch with San Diego Mesa on Thursday at 2 p.m. in San Diego

The Olympians scored an unearned run in the seventh inning to down the Comets 3-2 on Wednenesday at Myers Field.

This, after Palomar  had taken over undisputed first place on Tuesdsday when Imperial Valley upset Grossmont 11-10 in 10 innings at Imperial. The Comets and Griffins are now tied for first in a wild conference race in which five of the six teams are seperated by just one game.

Chris Sanders led the Comets at the plate, going 2-for-2 and also reaching base on a sacrifice / error and as a hit batter . Sanders has hit safely in 10 of his last 14 at-bats and has reached base safely on 17 of his last 21 plate appearances.

Palomar, trailing 2-0, tied the game in the bottom of the sixth. Alex Cox, the fourth pitcher of the day,  then came on to begin the seventh inning for the Comets and threw three strong one-hit innings -- but was the unfortunate victim of the unearned run in the seventh and took the loss. 

It was the Comets' sixth one-run loss of the season.

Sanders is 5-for-9 with 4 steals but IVC sweeps

IMPERIAL (3-15-2012) -- Thursday was a good day indeed for Palomar baseball right fielder Chris Sanders (left). But for his team, not so much.

The freshman from Murrieta Valley High School went 5-for-9 and stole four bases for the Comets, but host Imperial Valley swept the teams' Pacific Coast Athletic Conference double-header 4-1 and 5-4.

Palomar, which fell only a half-game out of first place when San Diego City College knocked off Grossmont 10-6, led the second game 4-2 entering the bottom of the ninth inning. This, after eight strong innings from sophomore right-hander Clayton Voechting (right) and with ace closer Nick Carmichael coming into the game.

But the Comets fell apart in the inning, committing three errors. The Arabs put the errors together with a single and two walks, one of them intentional, to win the game.

Sanders, the Comets' leadoff hitter who has been outstanding at the field asnd now is coming on at the plate as well, went 2-for-4 in the first game with a walk and three steals. He was 3-for-5 in the second game with an RBI and a steal.

Brett Clark drove in a run with a single in the first game.Munoz doubled. Tommy Cheek singled, walked and was hit by a pitch. Christian Johnson and Austin Muehring each added a single.

Kyle Montiel pitched two scoreless relief innings.

Reggie Jones doubled and got down a sacrifice bunt in the second game. Audie Afenir drove in two runs with a single and a sacrifice fly.  Rich Montanez and Johnson also had singles, and Casey Munoz drove in a run.

Palomar, which was tied with Grossmnt for first place entering the game and now is alone in second, one-half game behind the Griffins, will be off until Wednesday when the Comets host San Diego Mesa at 3 p.m. to begin a three-game series. The game was postponed from Tuesday due to wet grounds.

Zapata (5 shutout innings) gets win; Cheek 3-5

SAN MARCOS (3-13-2012) -- D.J. Zapata, who spent his first two years of college as a football player at the University of Montana and is pitching for the first time in three years, reported late to the Palomar baseball team after playing football for the Comets in the Fall..

The quarterback / right-handed pitcher spent the first part of the season coming out of the bullpen, developing interest from professional scouts and Division I coaches, extending a little more with every outing. It began paying off for the Comets on Tuesday vs. Imperial Valley.

Zapata finally extended to five innings, allowing only one hit and no runs, as Palomar remained in a tie with Grossmont for first place in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference with a 10-4 victoryat Myers Field.

The Mission Hills High School product, making his third start, picked up his first college pitching win and is firmly entrenched in coach Buck Taylor's pitching rotation along with Julian Esquibel and Clayton Voechting.

On a day Audie Afenir blasted a three-run home run into the wind over the leftfield fence in the first inning and Tommy Cheek (above right) went 3-for-5 with an RBI, the Comets took a 10-0 lead into the ninth. At that point, Zapata, Austin Cox and R.J. Shanks were pitching a combined one-hitter as the Comets dug deeper into their bullpen.

The Arabs put together a  hit batter, their second hit of the afternoon, a walk and their third hit -- a grand-slam homer by Erick Ochoa -- to put four runs on the board in the inning.

But the Comets still won convincingly and advanced to 5-1 in conference going into a rematch with IVC on Thursday at Imperial. the two teams are slated to play again Saturday at Myers Field, weather permitting.

Nico Garbella doubled, walked twice and stole a base for Palomar. Austin Muehring doubled and walked. Reggie Jones singled and was hit by a pitch. Casey Munoz singled and walked twice. Chris Sanders and Danny Hawksley each singled and walked. David Lack also singled.


With storm on way, Comets set double-header

SAN MARCOS (3-14-2012) -- With an expected storm projected to dump at least 2 inches of rain on the area over the weekend, Palomar and Imperial Valley have moved Saturday's scheduled game at Myers Field to Thursday at Imperial.

The Comets, originally slated to play the Arabs in a single game at 2 p.m., now will play a double-header at IVC, starting at noon.

To prevent an inbalance in the teams' home and away games, the Tuesday, April 17 game with the Arabs, scheduled to be played at IVC, now will be played at Palomar.

Vincent records first save for Padres vs. Indians

GOODYEAR, Atizona (3-10-2012) -- Former Palomar all-state pitcher Nick Vincent still has yet to allow either a run or a hit in Major League spring training after picking up his first save on Saturday against the Cleveland Indians.

The right-handed Vincent, elevated to the Padres' 40-man roster in the off-season, threw a hitless, scoreless ninth inning as the Padres won 5-2.

At Glendale, Arizona, ex-Comet Tyler Saladino came into the game at shortstop against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Saladeino went 0-for-1.

ABOVE: Shortstop Reggie Jones throws to second to begin a double play that got the Comets out of the eighth inning. The play went to Nico Garbella at second to get Southwestern's lead runner Justin DiStefano, then to first baseman Danny Hawksley to get the batter, Stephen Johnson. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Winning pitcher Julian Esquibel. BELOW RIGHT: Nick Carmichael, who got the save

Esquibel wins, Carmichael K's three for save

SAN MARCOS (3-08-2012) -- Palomar, the defending Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball champion, downed last year's second-place finisher, Southwestern, 4-1 on Thursday at Myers Field with more dominant pitcing.

Julian Esquibel allowed a lone unearned run, scattering six hits in 7 1/3 innings to run his win-loss record to 3-1.

Clayton Voechting then came on to get the Comets out of the eighth inning with a double-play grounder.

And Nick Carmichael, after a leadoff walk in the ninth, struck out the final three batters to record his second save.

That moved Palomar, which has won four of its last five games, to 4-1 in the conference. The Comets remain in a tie for first place with Grossmont, an 11-2 winner over San Diego Mesa, while Southwestern drops out of a three-way deadlock atop the PCAC.

Esquibel lost a bid for a second straight complete-game shutout after he struck out the leadoff batter in the top of the eighth. The Jaguars' next batter was safe on a two-base error when his grounder went under the second baseman's glove into right field. Francisco Gonzalez and Justin DiStafano followed with back-to-back singles. DiStafano's hit drove in the only Southwestern run.

That's when Voechting came in to get Sephen Jones to hit into the double play, which went from shortstop Reggie Jones to second baseman Nico Garbella to first baseman Danny Hawksley.

Third baseman Tommy Cheek had an outstanding defensive play to get Stephen Jones in the fourth inning when he hit the dirt to stop Jones' ground ball and threw it across the infield to get him at first.

Audie Afenir went 2-for-4 with a double and Chris Sanders was 2-for-4 with a walk to lead a Palomar offense that banged out ninet hits off Southwestern's ace pitcher, Kiki Medina (3-1), and reliever Justin Kruse.

Afenir's double, to right-center field, drove in Casey Munoz, aboard on a single, to break a scoreless tie in the fourth inning. Afenir went to third on a wild pitch and scored to make it 2-0 on Hawksley's sacrifice fly.

Up 2-1, the Comets scored two insurance runs in the eighth on an error, Hawkesley's hit-by-pitch, Austin Muehring's single, Rich Montanez' RBI single and a wild pitch.

Jones, Garbella and Hawksley also hit safely for Palomar.

The Comets,who have climbed back w 7-9 overall after a horrific start, get Saturday off and will play a three-game series with Imperial Valley next week. They'll host the Arabs on Tuesday and Saturday at Myers Field, sanchwiched around a Thursday game at IVC.

 Esquibel is named PCAC's Athlete of the Week

SAN DIEGO (3-07-2012) -- Palomar College baseball player Julian Esquibel, a sophomore right-hander out of Vista High School who pitched a complete-game, four-hit 3-1 victory over San Diego Mesa last week, has been honored as Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Men's Athlete of the Week.

Esquibel, a returning first-team all-conference selection, retired 18 staraight Mesa batters at one point in the game.

 Esquibel's brother  is former Palomar, University of Kansas and Seattle Mariners farm system pitching standout Andres Esquibell.

Comets blank Knights on road, in tie for 1st

SAN DIEGO (3-06-2012) -- Starter D.J. Zapata (left) pitched four innings of two-hit baseball, Kyle Montiel (right) threw four innings of one-hit relief and they teamed with Cody Willingham on a four-hit shutout Tuesday at Morley Field, giving Palomar a 7-0 win over San Diego City College.

Montiel (left) got the win as the victory moved the Comets into a tie for first place in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference with Southwestern, a 4-2 winner over previous undisputed leader Grossmont, and the Griffins, all at 3-1..

Nico Garbella slugged a two-run homer over the leftfield fence in the seventh inning for Palomar and wound up 2-for-4 with three RBIs.He also had a sacrifice bunt.

Reggie Jones went 2-for-5 with a double and hit-by-pitch. Audie Afenir was  2-for-5 with a double. Tommy Cheek was 2-for-3, walked and reached base on a sacrifice bunt / error. Josh Sabourin went 2-for-3 and walked.

Danny Hawksley doubled and walked, and Austin Muehring singled and walked. Chris Sanders added a single. Christian Johnson drove in two runs with a pair of sacrifice flies.

Muehring gunned down the Knights' Alex Wick trying to score on Kevin Garcia's sixth-inning single. Jones, the Comets' shortstop, made a big defensive play to throw out Stanton Putland later in the inning. Cheek made a series of outstanding plays at third base. And Afenir, playing catcher, threw out a runner trying to steal.

The win was Palomrar's first of the season on  the road, where the Comets have lost three one-run games. They'renow 1-8 away from home.

Palomar is 5-1 at Myers Field will host Southwestern in a battle of two of the early co-leaders on Thursdayat 2 p.m.

Vincent: 1 inning, 0 hits, 2 strikeouts for Padres

GLENDALE, Arizona (3-05-2012) -- Right-hander Nick Vincent, who has the third-lowest career ERA (2.11) and second-most career pitching wins (20) in Palomar history, made his debut on the San Diego Padres' 40-man spring training roster a successful one on Monday.

Vincent pitched a hitless, scoreless relief inning, striking out two and walking none, against the Seattle Mariners. Vincentt, who appeared in spring training games the last two seasons as a non-roster pitcher for the Padres, has been successful on every level he has pitched at, from Ramona High School to Palomar to Long Beach State to every level he's been at in the Padres organization.

Last season, he was a finalist for Minor League Baseball's Double-A Reliever of the Year award for the Padres' San Anontio farm club, which won the Texas League championship had the best win-loss record of any Minor League team in baseball on any level.

Comets fall, miss chance to take over 1st place

EL CAJON (3-03-2012) -- After back-to-back victories at home to open its Pacific Coast Athletic Confrence season at 2-0, Palomar's defending conference champions had a chance to take over unndisputed first place on the road Saturday.

Instead, the Comets fell to Grossmont 9-5, losing an early lead, And, with Imperial Valley's 10-4 upset of Southwestern, the Griffins took over first place by themselves instead of the Comets.

After the first three games of a 25-game conference schedule, Grossmont is 3-0, Palomar 2-1, Southwestern 2-1, IVC 1-2, San Diego City College 1-2 and San Diego Mesa 0-3. City College beat Mesa 3-2 in Saturday's other PCAC game.

Audie Afenir went 2-for-3 for Palomar with a walk. Tommy Cheek was 2-frr-4. Reggie Jones contributed a triple. Casey Munoz, Nico Garbella and Danny Hawksley also hit safely.

Clayton Voechting started for the Comets and pitched four one-hit, shutout innings, after which Palomar led 1-0. He eventually left the game in the sixth and took the loss.

Palomar wound up using seven pitchers. But the Comets got effective stints from Austin Guzzon (above left), who retired two straight batters and struck out one, Rex Clemons, who got the only batter he faced and Matt Gavin (above right), who retired Grossmont's last two batters in the eighth, one on a strikeout.

Palomar will play San Diego Ciy on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Morley Field in San Diego.

ABOVE: Palomar's Julian Esquibel, who beat Mesa on a complee-game four-hitter, strikes out Kevin Meriwether, the Olympians' leadoff batter in the ninth, on this pitch. Esquibel finished the game by retiring Mesa in order. BELOW LEFT: Second baseman Nico Garbella throws out Tyler Timmer for out No. 2 in the seventh inning. Timmer was the 15th of 18 straight batters Esquibel retired. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. BELOW RIGHT: Chris Sanders, who made a key diving catch in right field

Esquibel beats Mesa in 1-hour, 50-minutes

SAN MARCOS (3-01-2012) -- Julian Esquibel is back, and so are Palomar's defending Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball champions.

The Comets, who broke a four-game losing streak by beating Imperial Valley on Wednesday, downed San Diego Mesa 3-1 to advance to 2-0 in conference Thursday at Myers Field as Esquibel pitched a complete-game four-hitter.

The sophomore right-hander out of Vista High School -- whose brother Andres pitched for the Comets, for the University of Kansas and in the Seattle Mariners farm system -- took just 1-hour, 50-minutes to dispose of the Olympians.

Esquibel, a first-team All-PCAC selection last year as a freshman, returned to the form he'd demonstrated in beating state No. 1-ranked Santa Ana 7-0 in the Comets' opener, then pitching 7 2/3 shuutout innings vs. College of the Desert in his second start.

Esquibel, helped by a spectacular diving catch by right fielder Chris Sanders, gave up three straight hits in the top of the third after Sanders' inning-opening catch.

He got out of the inning when Mesa's Garrett Gallaher lined out to first baseman Danny Hawksley, who was playing in with the bases full but got back to the bag to double off the runner for the third out of the inning.

Beginning with Gallaher, Esquibel retired 18 straight batters before he walked Gallaher on a 3-2 count with two out in the eighth. Patrick De La Garza doubled to right center to drive in Gallaher, but Esquibel struck out pinch-hitter A.C. Herrera looking to end the inning. He then retired the Olympians in order in the top of the ninth.

Esquibel (2-0) got 15 ground-ball outs.

The Comets took a 2-0 lead in the second, after Audie Afenir drew a four-pitch walk, Tommy Cheek got down a sacrifice bunt that the Mesa pitcher mishandled for an error and Hawksley singled to left.

That loaded the bases with none out, With one down, Rich Montanez singled to right to drive in Afenir and Austin Muehring scored Cheek with a sacrifice fly to center.

Palomar added an insurance run in the fifth when Reggie Jones led off the inning with a walk and, with two out, Cheek drove him in by singling up the middle.

Muehring beat out an infield single to short in the foiurth inning and bith Sanders and Casey Munoz singled in the seventh for the Comets' other hits.

Palomar will try to advance to 6-8 overall, 3-0 in conference when the Comets visit Grossmont on Saturday, beginning at noon. Mesa is 5-7, 0-2 in conference.

ABOVE: Palomar's Tommy Cheek bunts for a base hit to load the bases with none out in what turned out to be a three-run fiourth inning. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Reggie Jones, who went 3-for-4 and made a big defensive play at shortstop. BELOW RIGHT: Nick Carmichael, who notched a save --Photo by Hugh Cox

Jones goes 3-for-4; Comets win PCAC opener

SAN MARCOS (2-29-2012) -- Reggie Jones went 3-for-4 and made one of two huge defensive plays for Palomar at Myers Field on Wednesday as the Comets opened their Pacific Coast Athletic Conference baseball lseason with a 7-5 win over Imperial Valley.

Coach Buck Taylor's Comets, trailing 5-4, scored three runs off IVC ace pitcher and current PCAC Athlete of the Week Esau Madrigal in the bottom of the fifth inning to win it.

Jones, a transfer from the University of Washington, singled with one out to get the rally untracked. After Casey Munoz was safe on an error by the shortstop, Audie Afenir tied the game with a sacrifice fly to center.

Tommy Cheek worked Madrigal for a walk, and Danny Hawksley and Nico Grabella followed with back-to-back RBI singles.

D.J. Zapata, who came out late after football season and is just now trying to extend, started and pitched 2 2/3 strong innings, striking out three, beforel suddenly tiring.

Rusty Edwards and Kyle Montiel both were effective in relief, with Edwards picking up the win, Palomar's ace closer Nick Carmichael, the Baltimore Orioles' 17th-round pick in the June draft, threw 1 2/3 shutout innings to record the save.

Right fielder Chris Sanders made the first huge defensive play with two out in the fourth inning after he fielded a fly ball that dropped in for an apparent hit. Sanders alertly rifled the ball to Hawksley at first to get IVC's Bobby Moreno who let up getting down the line.

Jones' defensive gem came in the top of the seventh when Jacinto Garcia, hit a slow ground ball in his direction at shortstop. Jones fielded the ball bare-handed and threw the ball to first go get Garcia by a step.

Garbella and Mooney each went 2-for-4 for the Comets, while Afenir drove in two runs with a fourth-inning double and the sacrifice fly.

Cheek also singled for the Comets, rounding out a 10-hit attack, and Austin Muehring also contributed a sacrifice fly.

Much-improved Imperial Valley brought a 5-4 record, its best start since a conference-championship season in the 1990s, into the game.

Palomar will try to go 2-0 in the PCAC when the Comets host San Diego Mesa on Thursday at 2 p.m. at Myers Field. The Olympians dropped their conference opener to Southwestern 9-2 on Wednesday. In the other PCAC game, Grossmont defeated San Diego City College 5-1.

PC remains so-near, so-far with 4th 1-run loss

VAN NUYS (2-25-2012) -- Palomar lost its fourth one-run decision of the 2012 baseball season on Saturday, dropping a 2-1 non-conference decision to host Los Angeles Valley despite a bvrilliant pitching effort by sophomore left-hander Clayton Voechting (left).

The defending Pacific Coast Athletic Conference champions, who entered the season ranked No.  8 in the nation and started the year with a 7-0 victory over state No. 1-ranked Santa Ana, remained so-near but yet so-far from reaching their soaring pre-season expectations.

When the Comets have gotten excellent pitching, as they did on Saturday, they've been unable to score runs. When they've banged the ball around offensively, they've encountered pitching problems. Consequently, they'll take a 3-8 record into their conference opener, against Imperial Valley on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Myers Field.

Voeching (2-2)  threw a five-hitter at the Monarchs, striking out seven and walking none in eight innings, but lost a pitching duel to L.A. Valley's Travis Cassidy, a freshman left-hander who pitched a six-hitter who continued to coax the Comets into putting the ball into play early in the count, usually in the air and, although continually itting the ball hard -- usually right at people.

The Monarchs tallied an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning to lead 1-0. The Comets tied the game in the top of  the second when Tommy Cheek singled with one out and Danny Hawksley doubled to left-center field to drive him in.

L.A. Valley tallied the deciding run in the third, after Travis Soto hit a bloop single to short left to lead off the inning. Casey Ryan, who went 2-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch and scored both of the Monarch's runs, got on via a fielder's choice when Voeching fielded a tapper back to the mound and threw out Soto at second.

Ryan, who had five stolen bases on the afternoon, then stole second and third and scored on a wild pitch.

Hawksley went 2-for-4 with two doubles and the RBI. Audie Afenir had a third straight multiple-hit day when he also went 2-for-4. Austin Muehring singled for the other Palomar hit.

ABOVE: Palomar second baseman Christian Johnson steps on the second-base bag after making a diving stop in the seventh inning. He easily got the batter on a 4-3 double play. BELOW LEFT: Josh Sabourin doubles to left field to lead off the Palomar fifth. -- Photos by Hugh Cox. BELOW RIGHT: Audie Afenir, who went 5-for-5.

Afenir goes 5-for-5 but Dons avenge early loss

SANTA ANA (2-23-2012) -- Palomar stunned state No. 1-ranked Santa Ana 7-0 in the opening game of the season three weeks ago, but Thursday's rematch between the two teams was a different story.

The Dons (8-2), this time playing at home at Don Snedden Field, overcame a 5-for-5 performance at the plate by Audie Afenir and avenged the Feb. 3 loss, beating the Comets 11-6.

Afenir singled in the first, third, fourth, sixth and eighth innings, drove in a run and scored a run as the Comets banged out 15 hits off three Santa Ana pitchers.

Reggie Jones (2-for-3, double, run scored, hit-by-pitch, walk, stolen base), Josh Sabourin (2-for-5, double) and Casey Munoz (2-for-6, run scored, two RBIs) also had multiple-it performances for Palomar (3-7).

But Santa Ana, led by Konnor Armijo's 4-for-5 day, got to six Palomar pitchers for 17 hits.

Relievers Kyle Montiel, Jake Brosemer, R.J. Shanks and Ashton Schaffer allowed on one run in four innings of relief for the Comets.

Palomar will play at Los Angeles Valley on Saturday at 1 p.m. as the Comets try to get back in to the win column prior to Tuesday's PCAC opener againt Imperial Valley at 2 p.m. at Myers Field.

Comets waste 10 hits as OCC stays unbeaten

SAN MARCOS (2-21-2012) -- Christian Johnson (left) went 4-for-4 and Nico Garbella's drove in Palomar's only run with aneighth-innng single on Tuesday as the Comets dropped a 6-1 non-conference baseball decision to undefeated Orange Coast at Myers Field.

Casey Munopz (right) was 2-for 4 with a hit-by-pitch and scored the run. Reggie Jones, Audie Afenir and Tommy Cheeks aoso hit safely.

Austin Guzzon and Rusty Edward each pitched two scoreless relief innings for the Comets (3-6). Ashton Ashaffer also threw a scoreless inning.

The Pirates advanced to 9-0-1,

ABOVE: Austin Muehring delivers a piitch in the ninth inning in Saturday's 5-3 victory over Fullerton at Myers Field. He recorded a save. -- Photo by Deb Hellman. BELOW LEFT: Reggie Jones, who went 2-for-4 and drove in the game's first run.

Comets back in business after 5-run first inning

SAN MARCOS (2-18-2012) -- After three recent agonizing one-run losses, Palomar is back in business -- and the in column -- after scoring five runs in the first inning Saturday which resulted in a 5-3 non-conference victory over Fullerton at Myers Field.

Doubles by Reggie Jones (2-for-4), who drove in the game's first run, and Audie Afenir sparked the first-inning outburst.Tommy Cheek (2-for-4) had an RBI single and Danny Hawksley also contributed a single in the inning.

Clayton Vechting pitched the first five innings to pick up the win. He was followed to the mound by R.J. Shanks, Alex Cox and Austin Muehring, who threw a hitless top of the ninth to record the save.

Munoz is 4-for-5 but Comets lose slugfest in 10

FULLERTON (2-17-2012) -- Casey Munoz (left) went 4-for-5 with a double, an RBI and an intentional walk and both Danny Hawksley (right) and Audie Afenir also had multiple hits but Palomar dropped a 12-11 decision at Fullerton in 10 innings on Friday.

The two teams combined for 38 hits.

Hawkesley was 3-for-5 with a three-run homer, four RBIs and a walk. Afenir was 3-for-6 and drove in two runs, one of them with a single which capped a four-run ninth and sent the game to extra innings. Reggie Jones singled in two runs earlier inn the inningand Brett Clark had a sacrifice fly.

Josh Sabourin (2-for-4, walk, hit by pitch, RBI, stolen base), Chris Sanders (2-for-5, walk), and Nico Garbella (2-for-6) also had multiple hits. Christian Johnson also had a single.

It was the third one-ross loss of the early season for Palomar, which has a rematch with Hornets on Saturday at noon at Myers Field.

1st triple play since '95 in loss to unbeaten OCC

COSTA MESA (2-14-2012) -- Palomar dropped another pitchers' dual, 3-2 on the road to unbeaten (7-0-1) Orange Coast, on Tuesday.

But the Comets turned their first triple play since 1995 in the bottom of the first with runners on first and second, two outs, a full count and the runners going.

The batter hit a liner to shortstop Reggie Jones, who threw to second baseman Christian Johnson to double off the lead runner. Johnson relayed the ball to first baseman Brad Clark before the other runner could get back to first, compleing the triple play..

Casey Munoz stayed hot at the plate for Palomar, going 2-for-4 with a double. Chris Sanders (above left) singled in both of the Comets' runs in the fifth inning and made a diving catch in center. Jones and Tommy Cheek also had singles.

 Relievers Austin Muehring, D.J. Zapata (above right) and Alex Cox stopped Coast on one run and one hit over the last five innings. Zapata retired the side in order in the sixth and seventh, striking out two.

ABOVE: Palomar's Casey Munoz looks toward home plate after sliding in at second base on one of his three doubles in Saturday's 8-3 victory over COD. --  Photo by Deb Hellman. BELOW LEFT: Winning pitcher Clayton Voechting.

Munoz (4-4, 3 doubles, 3 RBIs) leads PC 8-3

SAN MARCOS (2-11-2012) -- Sophomore right-hander Clayton Voechting (left) threw five-hit ball over the first seven innings and sophomore left fielder Casey Munoz sparked a big offensive performance on Saturday as Palomar avenged Thursday's non-conference loss at College of the Desert.

Munoz went 4-4 with three doubles, two RBIs and a walk and the Comets pounded the Roadrunners 8-3 at Myers Field.

Voechting, meanwhile, was setting the tone with a dominating pitching outing. He was followed to the mound by Austin Guzzon, Rusty Edwards (who got the Comets out of an eighth-inning jam) and Nick Carmichael. Carmichael, the Comets' ace closer who was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 17th round in June 2010, capped the win with a 1-2-3 ninth.

On Thursday, COD had scored a run in the last half of the ninth inning under the lights in Palm Desert to upset Palomar 1-0 despite outstanding pitching performances by Comet starter Julian Esquibel and reliever D.J. Zapata.

The Comets wasted no time taking command in Saturday's game, jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning  Coach Buck Taylor's squad put together a COD error, a sacrifice bunt by Reggie Jones, Munoz' RBI double, another error, Tommy Cheek's RBI double, Danny Hawksley's run scoring single and a sacrifice fly by Josh Sabourin.

Palomar made it 6-0 with two runs in the bottom of the second on a Christian Johnson single, Austin Muehring's sacrifice bunt, a walk to Jones, and Munoz' two-run double to left.

After COD pushed across two runs in the top of the fourth, the Comets got the runs right back in the bottom of the inning when Munoz doubled again with one out, Audie Afenir singled, Cheek doubled to drive in Munoz and Hawkesley scored Afenir with a sacrifrice fly;

Voechting faced only three batters in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings. Voechting also picked off the Roadrunners' Bryce McKee in the second, and benefited from Sabourin's diving catch to take a hit away from COD's Jesse Reyes for the second out in the third.

The Comets will try to even their record at 3-3 when they travel to Orange Coast for a 2 p.m. game Tuesday.

The flag in centerfield at Myers Field flew at halfr-mast on Saturday after the death of Ray Gomez from Downey on Friday as the Comets and Cerritos were preparing to take the field for a non-conference softball game. That game was cancelled. (See story that appears on the first page of the athletic web site and the softball page.

Esquibel, Zapata lights out but Comets fall 1-0

PALM DESERT (2-09-2012) -- Palomar pitchers Julian Esquibel shut down College of the Desert with strong relief help from D.J. Zapata on Thursday night.

But the host Roadrunners scored the winning run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth innings to hand the viciting Comets a 1-0 non-conference loss in a pitchers duel that featured a three-hit shutout by COD pitchers Josh Ferrill and Josh Garcia.

Esqubel blanked the Roadrunners on three hits in a dominant performance over the game's first 7 2/3 innings. COD managed two hits over the first seven innings.

Esquibel retired 13 batters in a row from the the Roadrunners' final out in the third inning through the last out in the seventh.

Zapata came in with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the eighth and got Desert's Dyan Lauers looking at a called third strike. He also pitched effectively in the bottom of the ninth but COD put together the winning rally with scratch hits and the final wild pitch that catcher Audie Afenir almost blocked.

It appeared as if Palomar was going to take an early lead when the Comets put runners at first and third with two out in the top of the first on back-to-ack singles by Casey Munoz and Afenir. But the Roadrunners' Ferrell, a freshman left-hander, got the final out on a fielder's choice. The Comets also got a runners either to second or third base in the second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth innings.

The teams will play a rematch on Saturday at Myers Field at 1 p.m.

Munoz slugs HR but Cypress holds on to win

CYPRESS (2-08-2012) -- Nationally 24th-ranked Cypress took advantage of four Palomar errors and overcame a nine-hit attack by No. 8-ranked Palomar on theway to a 6-3 non-conference victory on Thursday.Casey Munoz (left) went 2-for-4 for Palomar and slugged the Comets' first home run of the 2012 season, a solo shot over the leftfield fence with one out in the sixth inning.

Tommy Cheek went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Audie Afenir was 2-for-3 and walked.

Christian Johnson doubled for the Comets. Josh Sabourin and  Danny Hawksley each singled.

The Chargers, playying their home opener in a rain make-up from Tuesday, ran their record to 4-0 on the season. The Comets are 1-2 and will try to even their record on Thursday at College of the Desert at 5 p.m.

ABOVE: Reggie Jones (2) heads to first afs he beats out a perfecty-placed suicide squeeze bunt in the fifth innking,scoring Christian Johnson (3) from third and givilng Palomar a 2-0 lead. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW LEFT: Catcher Audie Afeni, who had a big day both at the plate and defensively for the Comets. BELOW RIGHT: Casey Munoz, who doubled and singled

Comets rock Santa Ana 7-0 to open season

SAN MARCOS (2-03-2012) -- Palomar, ranked No. 8 among the nation's community colleges by PerfectGame.org, got six shutout innings from starter Julian Esquibel and three hits from Nico Garella on Friday as the Comets opened their baseball season with a 7-0 victory over Santa Ana.

The Dons came to town ranked No. 1 in California and on the Pacific Coast by the American Baseball Coaches Association and No. 1 in Southern California by the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association.

Esquibel, a sophomore right-hander out of Vista High School, who was the Comets' ace starter a year ago, scattered four hits in his six innings, getting nine ground-ball outs and getting strong defensive support. Freshman left-handers Kyle Montiel and Matt Silberman came on in relief to preserve the shutout.

Gabrella, a red-shirt freshman shortstop from Cathedral Catholic High School by way of UC Santa Barbara, led a 14-hit attack, going 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored as the Comets' leadoff hitter.

Audie Afenir (2-for-4, double, two runs scored), Casey Munoz (2-for 2-for--4, double, RBI) and Christian Johnson (2-for-3, run scored) also had multiple-hit games.

Danny Hanksley doubled in two runs, .and Tommy Cheek and Austin Muehring each doubled in a run. Reggie Jones beat out a suicide squeeze bunt for an RBI single. Cheek and Josh Sabourin also got down crucial bunts as the Comets forced the Dons into erros with nearly-flawless execution.

Palomar played errorlerss ball in back of its pitchers, and second-generation Comet catcher Audie Afenir had a big day defensively. He picked off a runner, threw out a runner trying to steal and made a good play to get another runner trying to score on a throw from Munoz in left to complee a game-ending double play.

Johnson, playing second base, handled seven chances in the field and turned a double play, taking a throw from Cheek at short and relaying the ball to Hawksley at first.

Sabourin also hit safely.



PC pounds ball but early mound meltdown fatal

VENTURA (2-04-2012) -- Palomar continued to pound the ball at lthe plate on Saturday, but early-game pitching problems proved deadly as the Comets dropped a 13-8 non-conference decision to Ventura.

The Comets, coming off a 7-0 victory over highly-regarded Santa Ana to open the season Friday, knocked out 14 more hits against the Pirates, led by Reggie Jones (3-for-4, double, 4 RBIs, sacrifice bunt), Tommy Cheek (3-for-5, double, RBI) and Casey Munoz (3-for-5, double).

Palomar (1-1) couldn't hold early leads of 3-0 after a half-inning and 4-3 after 1 1/2 innings as Ventura (1-0) pushed 10 runs (8 earned) on 9 hits over the first four innings.

The Comets did get a superb relief inning from D.J. Zapata, who spent three seasons as a quarterback in the football programs at the University of Montana and Palomar since last pitching for Mission Hills as a high school senior. Zapata threw a scoreless seventh inning, recording two strikeouts and getting a weak ground out to first base.

Austin Muehring had a double and two walks for the Comets. Audie Afenir singled and drove in two runs. Josh Sabourin singled and walked. Nico Garbella contributed a single.

Comets 4th in SoCal, 6th in state, 8th on Coast

SAN MARCOS (1-10-2012) -- Palomar is ranked No. 4 in the pre-season among Southern California community college baseball teams sixth in the state and No. 8 on the West Coast as the Comets await their 2012 opener Feb. 3 at Myers Field against Santa Ana. The Dons are No. 1 in all three polls.

The Southern Cal poll was released by the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association. The American Baseball Coaches Association sponsors the state and Pacific Divisions (California, Oregon, Washington) rankings.

Among teams ranked in the Top 20 in the Southern Cal poll, coach Buck Taylor's Comets will play No. 1 Santa Ana twice, No. 2 Orange Coast twice, No. 5 Cypress once, No. 14 Southwestern five times and No. 17 San Diego Mesa five times during the regular season.

SOUTHERN CAL: 1 Santa Ana, 2 Orange Coast, 3 Rio Hondo, 4 Palomar, 5 Cypress,. 6 Glendale,  7 Cuesta, 8 Chaffey, 9 Riverside CC, 10 Hancock.  ... STATE: 1 Santa Ana, 2 San Joaquin Delta, 3 Orange Coast, 4 Rio Hondo, 5 Cypress, 6 Palomar, 7 Ohlone, 8 Cypress, 9 Sierra, 10 Glendale. ... PACIFIC DIVISIONS (CALIFORNIA, OREGON, WASHINGTON): 1 Santa Ana, 2 San Joaquin Delta, 3 Bellevue (WA), 4 Orange Coast, 5 San Mateo, 6 Rio Hondo, 7 Lower Columbia (WA), 8 Palomar, 9 Ohlone, 10 Cypress

Saladino 3rd-best prospect in Sox system

CHICAGO (1-10-2012) -- Former Palomar shortstop Tyler Saladino will head to Major League spring training with the Chicago White Sox for the second straight season ranked as one of the top prospects in the Sox' organization.

Two web sites, Baseball Instinct.com and Bullpen Banter.com, both rank the former Comet and 2010 Summit League Player of the Year at Oral Roberts University as the third-best prospect at all positions in the White Sox organization.

Saladino sustained a fractured hand in a Major League spring training game for the White Sox a year ago and missed more than a month to begin the season before slugging 16 home runs with 26 doubles, nine triples and a .501 slugging percentage at Double-A Winston-Salem.

He'll report to White Sox Major League spring training camp at Glendale, AZ for the second year in a row as a non-roster player. The other ex-Comet reporting to Major League spring training, pitcher Nick Vincent, is on the San Diego Padres' 40-man roster.

Saladino dominated for the Comets during the 2008 and 2009 seasons, then also dominated Division I pitching during his junior season at Oral Roberts in 2010 before being drafted by the White Sox in the seventh round.

He'd been a 36th-round selection of the Houston Astros coming out of University City High School in 2007.

Saladino credits his two seasons with the Comets so much for his development as a baseball player that he lists "Palomar" instead of "Oral Roberts" as his college on all of his Major League and Minor League bios.

On the fast track to making the Sox' Major League roster, Saladino was one of three ex-Comets who spent the past off-season in the prestigious Arizona Instructional League.

Padres elevate Vincent to their 40-man roster

SAN DIEGO  (11-19-11) -- Right-hander Nick Vincent, who made a quantum jump in his baseball career while pitching at Palomar, was elevated by the San Diego Padres to their 40-man Major League roster on Friday.

Vincent, 25, a Ramona High School product, came into his own as a Comet with 20 career victories, second-best in Palomar history.

After an outstanding junior season at Long Beach State, he was drafted and signed by the Padres in 2008.

Vincent was a finalist for Outstanding Double-A Reliever in Minor League Baseball in 2011, when he was 8-2 with 3 saves, a 2.27 ERA and 54 hits, 89 strikeouts, and 20 walks in 79 1/3 innings in helping lead San Antonio to the Texas League championship and the best record of any minor league team on any level..

The Padres' pitching coach is another former Comet, Darren Balsley.


2012 Baseball Schedule and Results

(Home Games in Bold)



Feb 3

Santa Ana

Myers Field

W 7-0 BOX 1-0  
Sat Feb 4 at Ventura Ventura College L 8-13 BOX 1-1  
Wed Feb 8 at Cypress Cypress College L 3-6 BOX 1-2  
Thu Feb. 9 at College of the Desert Palm Desert (COD) L 0-1 BOX 1-3  
Sat Feb 11 College of the Desert Myers Field W 8-3 BOX 2-3  
Tue Feb 14 at Orange Coast Costa Mesa (OCC) L 2-3 BOX 2-4  
Fri Feb 17 at Fullerton Fullerton College L 10-11 (10 inn) BOX 2-5  
Sat Feb 18 Fullerton Myers Field W 5-3 BOX 3-5  
Tue Feb 21 Orange Coast Myers Field L1-6 BOX 3-6  
Thu Feb 23 at Santa Ana Santa Ana College L 6-11 BOX  3-7  
Sat Feb 25 at Los Angeles Valley LA Valley College L 1-2 BOX 3-8  
Wed Feb 29 Imperial Valley (PCAC) Myers Field W 7-5 BOX 4-8 1-0
Thu Mar 1 SD Mesa (PCAC) Myers Field W 3-1 BOX 5-8 2-0
Sat Mar 3 at Grossmont (PCAC) El Cajon (Grossmont College) L 5-9 BOX 5-9 2-1
Tue Mar 6 at SD City (PCAC) San Diego (Morley Field) W 7-0 BOX 6-9 3-1
Thu Mar 8 Southwestern (PCAC) Myers Field W 4-1 BOX 7-9 4-1
Tue Mar 13 Imperial Valley (PCAC) Myers Field W 10-4 BOX 8-9 5-1
Thu Mar 15 at Imperial Valley (PCAC) Imperial (IVC) L 1-4. BOX 8-10 5-2
    at Imperial Valley (PCAC) Imperial (IVC) L 4-5. BOX 8-11 5-3
Wed Mar 21 SD Mesa (PCAC) Myers Field L 2-3 BOX 8-12 5-4
Thu Mar 22 at SD Mesa (PCAC) San Diego (SDM) L 1-4 BOX 8-13 5-5
Sat Mar 24 SD Mesa (PCAC) Myers Field L 8-10 BOX 8-14 5-6
Wed Mar 28 at Grossmont (PCAC) El Cajon (GC) L 4-5 (10 inn.) BOX 8-15 5-7
Thu Mar 29 Grossmont (PCAC) Myers Field W 7-2 BOX 9-15 6-7
Sat Mar 31 at Grossmont (PCAC) El Cajon (GC) W 8-1 BOX 10-15 7-7
Tue Apr 3 at SD City (PCAC) San Diego (Morley Field) L 4-5 BOX 10-16 7-8
Thu Apr 5 SD City (PCAC) Myers Field W 8-4 BOX 11-16 8-8
Fri Apr 6 at SD City (PCAC) San Diego (Morley Field) L 1-2 BOX 11-17 8-9
Tue Apr 10 Southwestern (PCAC) Myers Field W 4-1 BOX 12-17 9-9
Thu Apr 12 at Southwestern (PCAC) Chula Vista (SWC) W 3-2 BOX 13-17 10-9
Tue Apr 17 Imperial Valley (PCAC) Myers Field W 6-3 BOX 14-17 11-9
Wed Apr 18 Southwestern (PCAC) Myers Field W 4-3 BOX 15-17 12-9
Thu Apr 19 at SD Mesa (PCAC) San Diego (SDM) L 1-4 BOX 15-18 12-10
Sat Apr 21 Grossmont (PCAC) Myers Field W 7-6 (14 inn) BOX 16-18 13-10
Tue Apr 24 SD City (PCAC) Myers Field W 7-6 (14 inn) BOX 17-18 14-10
Fri Apr 27 at Southwestern (PCAC) Chula Vista (SWC) W 5-1 BOX 18-18 15-10



Cox Cable Channel 958


2012 Roster








High School (City) /  Previous College

1 Matt Silberman LHP/OF L/L 5-8 170 Fr Vista Murrieta (Murrieta, CA)
2 Reggie Jones INF R/R 6-1 175 So Draper (Draper, UT) / University of Washington
3 Christian Johnson INF R/R 5-10 165 So Chaparral (Temecula, CA)
4 Tommy Cheek INF R/R 5-10 195 So Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, CA) / University of San Diego
7 Rich Montanez C L/R 5-11 180 So Rancho Buena Vista (Vista, CA)
8 Curtis Kilgore INF R/R 5-10 180 Fr M.L. King (Riverside, CA) / Riverside Community College
9 Daniel Lack OF R/R 6-0 165 Fr Ghrr (Cerritos, CA)
11 Callan Dawson RHP R/R 6-0 175 So Carlsbad (Carlsbad, CA) / New Mexico State University
12 Chris Sanders OF R/R 6-0 170 Fr Murrieta Valley (Murrieta, CA)
13 Nico Garbella IF/OF R/R 6-1 180 Fr Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, CA) / UC Santa Barbara
14 Josh Sabourin OF R/R 6-0 175 So Torrey Pines (San Diego, CA)
15 Austin Guzzon LHP L/L 6-0 175 Fr Rancho Buena Vista (Vista, CA)
16 Ashton Schaffer RHP R/R 6-0 170 Fr Temecula Valley (Temecula, CA)
17 Cody Willingham LHP L/L 6-0 175 So Ramona (Ramona, CA) / UC Irvine
18 Audie Afenir C / 1B R/R 6-2 220 So Escondido (Escondido, CA)
19 Danny Hawksley C / 1B R/R 6-4 180 So Valhalla (El Cajon, CA) / University of San Diego
20 Austin Muehring OF / RHP R/R 6-3 190 So Rancho Bernardo (San Diego, CA)
21 Brett Clark 1B /. LHP B/L 6-4 175 Fr Temecula Valley (Temecula, CA)
22 Casey Munoz OF R/R 6-0 185 So Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, CA) / Oklahoma State University
23 Alex Cox RHP R/R 6-5 230 So Santiago (Corona, CA) / University of Kansas
25 Clayton Voechting RHP R/R 6-4 175 So Chaparral (Temecula, CA)
26 Matt Gavin RHP R/R 6-1 175 So Smithtown East (St. James, NY) / Wagner University
27 R.J. Shanks RHP R/R 6-2 180 So Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, CA)
28 William Ward C R/R 5-10 185 Fr Mandeville (Mandeville, LA) / University of Southeastern Louisiana
29 Rusty Edwards LHP L/L 6-1 155 Fr El Camino (Oceanside, CA)
30 Rex Clemons RHP R/R 6-1 175 Fr Fruita Monument (Fruita, CO) / Metro State University
31 Kyle Montiel LHP L/L 6-4 170 Fr Carlsbad (Carlsbad, CA)
33 Vaughn Berberet OF/LHP L/L 6-4 190 Fr Fallbrook (Fallbrook, CA)
34 D.J. Zapata RHP R/R 6-5 190 Fr Mission Hills (San Marcos, CA) / University of Montana
35 Nick Carmichael RHP R/R 6-5 220 So Rancho Bernardo (San Diego, CA) / University of Redlands
36 Jake Brosemer RHP R/R 6-5 220 Fr Westview (San Diego, CA)
39 Julian Esquibel RHP L/R 6-2 210 So Vista (Vista, CA)
10 -- Buck Taylor, Head Coach
6 -- Ben Adams, Associate Head Coach; Recruiting Coordinator, Infield Coach
24 -- Rich Graves, Outfield Coach
29 -- Sean Rees, Pitching Coach
40 -- Troy Afenir, Bullpen Coach / Bench Coach

Ex-Comets Who Played Major League Baseball (Regular Season)




Randy Johnson, INF San Jose State Atlanta Braves
Troy Afenir, C None Houston Astros, Oakland A's, Cincinnati Reds
Jim Scranton, INF University of Arizona Kansas City Royals
George Hinshaw, INF Arizona State University, University of La Verne San Diego Padres

Ex-Comets Who Played Major League Baseball (Pre-Season) and/or Were Elevated to Major League Regular-Season Rosters But Did Not Appear in Any Games




Rich Zinniger, LHP Brigham Young University San Diego Padres
Dana McManus, RHP Chapman University Detroit Tigers
Scot Mitchell, C Cal State Northridge Oakland A's
Ernie Oliva, RHP None San Diego Padres, California Angels
Will Flynt, LHP Fort Hays State University Pittsburgh Pirates
Carl Grovum, LHP United States International University Cincinnati Reds
Mike Walter, RHP None Houston Astros
Nick Vincent, RHP Long Beach State San Diego Padres
Tyler Saladino, SS Oral Roberts University Chicago White Sox

Everybody is a Comet fan ...

Palomar fan enjoys an afternoon in the sun at Myers Field. Photo by Hugh Gerhardt)

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