HomeBlocksFront-GridBaseball: League Awards Highlight Titans Accomplishments

Baseball: League Awards Highlight Titans Accomplishments

With title-winning experience under its belt, the San Marino High baseball team planned to pull away from the rest of the competition to become the outright Rio Hondo League champion.

And the Titans accomplished just that, turning to veterans to capture the league crown.

Because of their efforts, a total of seven Titans received all-league honors, highlighted by junior Tomás Bilvado’s Rio Hondo League Pitcher of the Year award.

“It’s a group that, last year, kind of set the tone,” San Marino coach John Franklin said. “Last year’s team was amazing. The work ethic was there. We relied on these guys when they were underclassmen and they kind of just carried in last year knowing what was needed to accomplish getting a Rio Hondo League title and doing what it took to just make a run and be a competitive baseball program.” 

Bilvado served as the Titans’ ace and beat out two seniors from Monrovia, Zach Menlove and Andrew Cito, for the award.

The junior finished with a 1.47 earned-run average and a 10-2 record across 16 appearances, 11 of which were starts. He finished with a 7-1 league record as well. Bilvado pitched 76 innings, struck out 74, walked 33 and gave up 37 hits and 19 runs.

“He made the jump from second team as a sophomore to Pitcher of the Year as a junior, so it’s going to be tough to go up from there unless he starts hitting and goes for the MVP next year,” Franklin said.

Photo by Sebastian Moore / San Marino junior Tomás Bilvado was named Rio Hondo League Pitcher of the Year after guiding the Titans to an outright league crown this season.

Four Titans received first-team accolades. San Marino junior J.J. Wilson and senior Sid Danenhauer were first-team infielders, and junior Jamie Bercaw and senior Mikey Yessaian were first-team outfielders.

Franklin’s choice for league MVP, Wilson led the team in batting average, hitting 0.402. He also recorded 39 hits, 16 RBIs and eight doubles, along with a slugging percentage of 0.505 – all team bests. Wilson finished with an on base percentage of 0.459, the second-best on the team behind Danenhauer’s 0.514.

The junior also helped out on the mound and finished with an ERA of 2.11 behind Bilvado. Wilson pitched 49⅔ innings and struck out 40, walked 22, and yielded 35 hits and 19 runs.

Said Franklin of Wilson: “It’s hard to win [MVP] as a junior because you have to go above and beyond, but he led the league in batting average, he was top two in RBIs, he also pitched and had picked up two wins on the mound … He gamed it.”

South Pasadena senior Nolan Adams was named league most valuable player.

Danenhauer served as leadoff batter for the Titans and recorded 30 hits, finishing with a 0.370 batting average, second behind Wilson. The senior was also a crafty baserunner, recording 12 stolen bases, behind Bercaw’s team-leading 18. Danenhauer also scored 25 runs and had a slugging percentage of 0.382.

Photo by Sebastian Moore / San Marino senior Sid Danenhauer was an all-league first-team selection.

“Sid has been a constant progression of an athlete,” said Franklin of Danenhauer, who has committed to Stony Brook University in New York.

Along with his 18 stolen bases, Bercaw scored 16 runs, serving as a stalwart in the outfield along with Yessaian, who finished the season with a 0.414 on base percentage.

“He was probably a top-two defender in the outfield in the Rio Hondo League and was able to get it done at the plate,” Franklin said. “He worked his way up the lineup throughout the year by executing jobs, not trying to do too much and staying within himself.”

San Marino freshman Chase Mena and senior Liam Van Fossan were recognized with second-team all-league selections.

Mena was selected as a second-team outfielder and batted 0.342, the third-best average on the team.

“Chase as freshman was incredible,” Franklin said. “He wasn’t really given the starting job – he earned it. He took it. He put up the numbers to earn it and he was consistent throughout the year.”

Van Fossan, meanwhile, was chosen as second-team utility.

“He was our [designated hitter and] utility guy,” said Franklin of Van Fossan. “He came in on some big pinch-hit situations. He hit over .300 in league, which was just a good at-bat.”

The Titans secured the league title with a 9-3 record and finished 21-8 overall.

“The Rio Hondo League, I feel like, is one of the most competitive, top to bottom, leagues in the area, if not the most competitive,” said Franklin, who said each game was a “dogfight.”

Photo by Sebastian Moore / Titans freshman Chase Mena earned second-team all-league accolades

Of their 12 league games, the Titans had to decide three showdowns in extra innings. Five of those league contests were won by one run.

“I feel like our league championships hold a little more value for whoever wins them because, any given year, any team can finish first and any team can finish last,” Franklin said. “It’s what you do with the season that matters. Everyone can have the talent; it’s how you can win those close games.”

San Marino reached the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division IV playoffs, where the Titans fell to Oak Hills in a three-run decision. The Titans opened the playoffs with a five-run shutout over Citrus Hill.

As Franklin and the Titans shift their focus to the next season, the goals are still the same: secure a league title and win a CIF crown.

“The ultimate goal is to win a CIF championship, but, for us, it starts with our league championship,” Franklin said. “That’s our goal. We’re not looking ahead of that. It’s always that first.”


Three Titans earned all-league honors in softball.

San Marino senior Sophia Bilvado was named first-team catcher, freshman Madeline Bilvado was selected as second-team infielder and freshman Sarah Esbenshade earned honorable mention.

Sophia Bilvado led the Titans in most offensive categories, compiling a 0.512 batting average and finishing with 22 hits. She stole 14 bases, scored 18 runs and drove in 19, all while becoming the team’s all-time leader in home runs after belting two out of the park this season. The senior led the team with seven doubles, a slugging percentage of 0.860 and an on base percentage of 0.600.

Serving as a threat in the circle and the batter’s box, Madeline Bilvado batted 0.312 with 15 hits and five doubles. She also scored 11 runs and stole eight bases.

Esbenshade also slugged a pair of home runs, scored 17 runs and recorded eight RBIs.

The Titans finished the season 4-14 overall.

First published in the May 30 issue of the San Marino Tribune


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