More Baseball Coaches of Year

In addition to overall State Coach of the Year Benji Medure of Huntington Beach, we have additional state coaching honors for the 2022 season heading out to Tony Nieto from Tesoro of Las Flores (medium schools) and Kurt Takahashi from Bradshaw Christian of Sacramento (small schools).


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Tesoro head coach Tony Nieto greets Jackson Freeman not long after the Titans captured the CIF SoCal D4 title. Photo: Fernando M. Donado / For OC Sports Zone.

Tony Nieto (Tesoro, Las Flores)

This is one of those selections in which the coach has enjoyed much success at a previous school before going to a new one and continuing to shine.

For Nieto, he has only been at Tesoro for two seasons, but before that won 265 games in 16 years at California of Whittier. The Condors also won seven league titles in those seasons and went to the CIF Southern Section playoffs 13 times. He also was the Whittier Daily News Coach of the Year twice. There was a two-year gap in between the years when Tony left California and went to Tesoro. This was when he served as a pitching coach for two years at Capistrano Valley.

Nieto became a coach first at the collegiate level for two years at Loyola Marymount (2000 & 2001) after his playing career concluded. He was a four-year player in college at USC (1991-1994) and played two years in the minor leagues in the Cincinnati Reds organization.

This year’s team at Tesoro won the CIF Southern California D3 title with a 6-4 victory over Fullerton. Two weeks earlier, the Titans also topped Fullerton, 3-0, to earn the school’s first-ever CIFSS crown. They capped a 28-8 season and were named the D3 State Team of the Year.

Nieto is the first head coach from an Orange County high school to be Medium Schools State Coach of the Year since 1999 when the honoree was John Emme of Corona del Mar (Newport Beach). Coach Emme tragically died just last year (2021) after injuries he sustained while riding his bike. He had retired from coaching baseball in 2019.

Last 12 State Medium Schools Coaches of the Year: 2021 – Daniel Maye (Simi Valley Royal); 2020 – No selection (pandemic); 2019 – Pat Fuentes (Los Banos); 2018 – Ken Arnerich (Alameda); 2017 – Rich Henning (Christian Brothers, Sacramento); 2016 – Jeff Baumback (Redondo Beach Redondo Union); 2015 – Mike Mitchell (El Cajon Christian); 2014 – Ollie Turner (Torrance); 2013 – Wilmer Aaron (Gardena Serra); 2012 – Steve Vickery (Lakeside El Capitan); 2011 – Gary Remiker (San Diego Cathedral Catholic); 2010 – Rich Sciutto (Burlingame); 2009 – Bob Anderson (Lake Shasta Central Valley).

Bradshaw Christian head coach Kurt Takahashi receives section title banner from CIF Sac-Joaquin Section commissioner Mike Garrison. Photo: Ray Iaea / Elk Grove Citizen.

Kurt Takahashi (Bradshaw Christian, Sacramento)

Well, there’s one way to get a state coaching honor and that’s to guide your team to a win in a championship game over the team coached by the person who won it the previous year.

That was just a minor part, of course, for Bradshaw Christian winning the CIF NorCal D4 championship with a 9-0 victory over Colusa. The RedHawks were the top seed and were trying to take their historical 33-0 start to an even more historical 34-0 finish. That didn’t happen as Takahashi and the young Pride (with many sophomores and freshmen starting) notched a historical win of their own.

“This is the first NorCal championship (in any sport) in school history,” Takahashi said in an interview with the Elk Grove Citizen. “We beat a good team in Colusa. Our boys showed up and played very well (Saturday).”

Eric Lay, the head coach at Colusa, was the Small Schools State Coach of the Year in 2021 when his team ended with a 27-1 record. Takahashi’s squad in 2022 finished 26-4 and was No. 2 in the final D4 state rankings (behind 31-4 Estancia of Costa Mesa).

Baseball has been a big part of Takahashi’s life since he was a youngster. He grew up in Porterville and played at Fresno City College. He was chosen in the 1995 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants as a pitcher and was in the minor leagues for three seasons. Takahashi’s pitching background may be one reason why Bradshaw Christian freshman David Wiser was able to throw a shutout in the regional final. The team’s pitchers overall only gave up four runs in seven CIF Sac-Joaquin Section & CIF NorCal playoff games.

Takahashi, who has been at Bradshaw Christian since 2017 and also is the school’s athletic director, is the first Sac-Joaquin Section Small Schools State Coach of the Year since 2015 when Nelson Randolph of Capital Christian (Sacramento) was the honoree.

Last 12 State Small Schools Coaches of the Year: 2021 – Eric Lay (Colusa); 2020 – No selection (pandemic); 2019 – Greg Mugg (Sunnyvale The King’s Academy); 2018 – Mack Paciorek (Pasadena Poly); 2017 – Jim Cleveland (San Lorenzo Redwood Christian); 2016 – Troy Ghisetti (Arcata); 2015 – Nelson Randolph (Sacramento Capital Christian); 2014 – Jay Preuss (Kerman); 2013 – Gil Ruiz (Pacific Grove); 2012 – Greg Largent (Escalon); 2011 – Craig Schoof (Atherton Menlo School); 2010 – Glen Prater (Riverside Woodcrest Christian); 2009 – Brad Gunter (Roseville Valley Christian).

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