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Vaquero Baseball Youth Clinic leads off

Baseball: GCC Coach Chris Cicuto opens first Vaquero Youth Clinic.

June 20, 2012|By Charles Rich, charles.rich@latimes.com
(Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — From one end zone of Glendale Community College's Sartoris Field to the other, more than 30 participants were hard at work Tuesday morning. Not catching footballs, but instead catching fly balls, scooping up grounders and running bases during the inaugural Vaquero Baseball Youth Clinic.

With nearby Stengel Field unavailable, the campers, hailing mostly from Glendale, La Crescenta, Burbank and Toluca Lake, soaked up pointers given to them by Glendale college baseball Coach Chris Cicuto and his assistants during the week-long event.

Other than the standard water breaks, the participants, ages 9-13, went from one drill to the next attacking the ball and bases.

"The level of play with this group is really advanced," said Cicuto, who has guided Glendale college to two straight Western State Conference South Division championships and postseason appearances. "These guys are very attentive and it's about going back to the basics.

"They've had a blast learning and we are getting some good feedback."

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Cicuto said the idea to begin the clinic was hatched in the spring by Joanna Saporito, an adjunct sociology instructor at Glendale college whose kids have worked in recent seasons receiving instruction from Cicuto.

Similar local programs have been run in recent summers, including one by Crescenta Valley baseball Coach Phil Torres. Cicuto said having another area clinic provides additional training.

"This is something we should have been doing the last 10 years," said Cicuto, who led the Vaqueros to the program's first appearance in the state playoffs in 2011. "I've watched Phil's camps and how they operate.

"With this [clinic], we can teach the fundamentals and look to make them better baseball players. We would like to see them set their standards high, take what they've learned home with them and continue to get better."

The clinic, which will run through Friday, features a daily itinerary consisting of warming up, playing catch, defensive drills, hitting, pitching, running and mini scrimmages.

All of the participants took part in each event, including Andy Hovland and Robbie Herrera.

Hovland, 10, fielded a series of grounders at each infield position on the FieldTurf. The Glendale resident, who plays pitcher and catcher on Foothill Little League's Crescenta Valley Insurance Minor baseball team, said he planned to work on his throwing accuracy.

"I want to improve on my overall skills, but I'm learning how to keep my arm stretched when I throw," Hovland said. "I want to be able to throw the ball straight, including with my pitching because I want to throw more strikes.

"It's challenging going from exercise to exercise."

Herrera, 13, attended the clinic specifically to improve his fielding. The Burbank resident is a shortstop on the Burbank Orioles, a Tri-Cities Junior baseball team.

"This is much more advanced and you get an even better understanding of the game," said Herrera, who participated Tuesday in a baserunning drill as a runner and fielder. "It's pretty tiring, but you get a good understanding about the game.

"With fielding, you want to know how and where exactly to throw the ball, get in a lane and not back up because it's all about making decisions."

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