It’s been a great few weeks for El Toro’s Mike Gonzales with a second CIF Southern Section Division I title and a third player reaching the major leagues with the debut of the Oakland A’s Matt Chapman. One of his others you might have heard of — MVP candidate Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies. Gonzales now joins a long list of State Coaches of the Year that dates back to the 1930s and includes some of the best in national history.
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After winning just four times in the first 11 games, it might have been hard to see that the 2017 baseball season was going to turn out the way it did for head coach Mike Gonzales and his team at El Toro of Lake Forest.
But Gonzales knew he had the type of pitching that could carry a team deep into the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs. The hitting also continued to improve and by the end the Chargers had won 23 of 24 games and won the CIFSS D1 title with a 4-0 shutout of Corona on June 2 at Dodger Stadium.
For having that kind of season and for having the 17-year career that he’s had both for winning games and developing players who have gone on to great success, Gonzales has been chosen as the 2017 Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year. He’s actually the first from Orange County to gain the honor since the turn of the century, but there were several in the 1990s, including the county’s winningest coach ever, Dave Demarest of Westminster La Quinta, who was honored in 1995.
Both of Gonzales’ top pitchers this season were primarily position players last season, but waited their turn to lead this year. Both Jake Jackson (University of Nevada recruit) and Erik Tolman (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) came through. Tolman pitched in the CIFSS D1 semifinal win vs. Mater Dei of Santa Ana while Jackson notched a two-hit shutout in the final.
“This was one of the best benches and team chemistry I’ve ever been a part of,” Gonzales told the L.A. Times when it named him as its Coach of the Year nearly two weeks ago. “Communication is the key, trust and loyalty. If players know you care about them, they’re going to trust you and they’re going to be unselfish.”
Gonzales, who is a 1986 graduate of El Toro when the school was known for its football teams, completed his 17th season as head coach of his alma mater. He has had 20-win seasons for 11 of the past 13 years, including a 25-6 total from 2016 that preceded 2017.
This also was not Gonzales’ first CIFSS title. His team in 2008 defeated Redlands East Valley 7-0 in the Division II final and then the next year in 2009 the Chargers lost to local rival Capistrano Valley (Mission Viejo) in the Division I championship.
Both of those teams featured shortstop Nolan Arenado, who was first team all-state selection and went in the second round of the 2009 MLB Draft to the Colorado Rockies. He is now one of the top players in baseball, known for Gold Glove defense at third base and for his power plus batting average. He could be the most feared batter entering the box that longtime San Francisco Giants fans have ever seen. Arenado just obliterates Giants’ pitchers, evidenced most by a recent walk-off three-run homer that also enabled Arenado to hit for the cycle in the same game.
But Arenado is not Gonzales’ only former player in the big leagues. Austin Romine has played on-and-off for the New York Yankees for parts of the last five seasons at first base and catcher. Romine also happened to be on the same field recently at the Oakland Coliseum when El Toro’s Matt Chapman got his first hit, which was a go-ahead two-run single to give the A’s a lead in a game they won. Chapman is projected to be a starting third baseman for the A’s into the immediate future.
That slow start this season may have prevented El Toro from finishing a few spots higher in final state and national rankings, but it didn’t prevent Jackson (who finished 12-1 with 0.62 ERA) from being a Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year finalist and it doesn’t prevent Gonzales from being State Coach of the Year.
All-Time List Cal-Hi Sports
State Baseball Coaches Of The Year
2017 – Mike Gonzales, Lake Forest El Toro (27-7-1)
2016 – Gary Remiker, San Diego Cathedral Catholic (25-9)
2015 – John Donohue, San Francisco Lowell (25-8)
2014 – James Davis, El Cajon Granite Hills (26-7)
2013 – Jeff Carlson, Elk Grove (29-5)
2012 – Steve Vickery, Lakeside El Capitan (31-7)
2011 – John Goulding, Union City James Logan
2010 – Tom Donald, Clovis Buchanan (29-5)
2009 – Pete Jensen, San Mateo Serra (30-6)
2008 – Jeff Phillips, La Mesa Grossmont (29-7)
2007 – John Diatte, San Jose Valley Christian (33-4)
2006 – Spud O’Neil, Lakewood (29-5-1)
2005 – Bill Hutton, San Jose Mitty (28-6)
2004 – Rick Steen, Danville San Ramon Valley (25-8)
2003 – Justin Machado, Carlsbad La Costa Canyon (32-1)
2002 – Dave Currie, Santa Clara Wilcox (34-3)
2001 – Tom Muesborn, Chatsworth (31-2)
2000 – Harry Jenkins, Torrance West (29-2)
1999 – Joe Walters, Santa Ana Calvary Chapel (27-1-1)
1998 – James Patrick, Clovis (33-2)
1997 – Dave Brunell, Santa Maria St. Joseph (29-0)
1996 – Dennis Pugh, San Diego Mission Bay (29-5)
1995 – Dave Demarest, Westminster La Quinta (28-3-1)
1994 – Ron LaRuffa, Fountain Valley (27-3-1)
1993 – Mike Maio, Woodland Hills El Camino Real (24-2)
1992 – Dan Peters, Long Beach Millikan (22-5-1)
1991 – Jeff Meredith, La Mesa Grossmont (28-1)
1990 – Mickey McNamee, San Marino (23-2-1)
1989 – Sam Blalock, San Diego Mt. Carmel (25-2)
1988 – Chris Sims, Moraga Campolindo (24-5)
1987 – Don Ardissone, San Jose Bellarmine (26-7)
1986 – Mike Curran, Anaheim Esperanza (25-3-1)
1985 – Dave Perkins, Hanford (23-5)
1984 – Darryl Stroh, Granada Hills (16-2-1)
1983 – Larry Quirico, El Cerrito (27-1)
1982 – Jim Garrett, Tulare (21-5)
1981 – Guy Anderson, Rancho Cordova (28-8)
1980 – Mike Noakes, Fresno Bullard (29-2)
1979 – John Bachman, Covina (27-3)
1978 – Al Endriss, Larkspur Redwood (30-5)
1977 – Lou Zuardo, South S.F. El Camino (28-1)
1976 – John Herbold, Lakewood (22-4-1)
1975 – Jack Hannah, Fresno Hoover (29-2)
1974 – Jim O’Brien, Torrance North (26-6-1)
1973 – John Stevenson, El Segundo (30-5)
1972 – Hi LaValle, Compton Dominguez (22-4-1)
1971 – Denny Holt, Sepulveda Monroe (19-0)
1970 – Dan Bodary, Lompoc (27-1)
1969 – Bob Myers, Long Beach Millikan (21-6)
1968 – Bill Sandback, San Diego Crawford (21-7)
1967 – Marvin Wood, Torrance Bishop Montgomery (27-3)
1966 – Bill Cox, Oakland St. Elizabeth (23-5)
1965 – Al Exton, Arcadia (21-4)
1964 – Bob Zuber, Van Nuys Birmingham (18-1)
1963 – Bill Kelly, Redondo Beach Aviation (20-3)
1962 – Dick Sperbeck, Sacramento Bishop Armstrong (22-2)
1961 – Elmo Ferrari, Ojai Villanova (17-0)
1960 – Jake Abbott, Fresno Roosevelt (20-2)
1959 – Howard Johnson, Inglewood Morningside (20-6)
1958 – Ken Proctor, Ontario Chaffey (20-5)
1957 – Ollie Bidwell, Fresno (22-2)
1956 – Bill Ziegler, Eureka (18-0)
1955 – Bob Patterson, Vallejo (20-1)
1954 – Ed Grimm, Redding Shasta (14-0)
1953 – Charles Doyle, Compton (23-2)
1952 – George Powles, Oakland McClymonds (16-0)
1951 – Cliff Perry, Sacramento McClatchy (22-0-1)
1950 – Harry Brubaker, L.A. Dorsey (17-0*)
1949 – Al Kyte, Oakland Technical (8-2, League)
1948 – Len Porterfield, Santa Maria (16-2)
1947 – Cliff Meyer, Long Beach Wilson (20-3)
1946 – Walt Williams, San Jose (17-2)
1945 – Pop Elder, S.F. Mission (10-0, League)
1944 – Bob Fatjo, San Jose Bellarmine (13-2)
1943 – Les Haserot, L.A. Fremont (13-1)
1942 – Roy Engle, San Diego Hoover (13-0 vs. Prep Teams)
1941 – Ras Johnson, S.F. Galileo (12-1*)
1940 – George Wolfman, S.F. Mission (11-1*)
1939 – Dewey Morrow, San Diego (22-5)
1938 – George Sperry, Glendale
1937 – Bernie Baumeister, S.F. Commerce (12-2, League)
1936 – Lyle Kinnear, Long Beach Polytechnic (23-2)
1935 – Ed Combatalade, Sacramento (20-1)
1934 – Myles Regan, L.A. Cathedral (13-5-1)
1933 – Kit Carlson, Santa Maria (9-1)
*League and playoff record
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports
A lot of parents paid for private coaching at this time. Fernando the dad of Arenado of the third baseman Nolan of the Colorado Rockies is one. He deserves at least as much credit. Dad coached, others paid. But the dad and son always loved the game. Fernando was there for his son, but others too.
Ridiculous that Gonzales would win any award.
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