Hit it Outta the Park Spartans!

Posted on 05/26/2023

Sylmar baseball coach tells players to ‘soak it all in’ as they play for the City title at Dodger Stadium

Sylmar's Ray Rivera has been to a City final at Dodger Stadium as a player and an assistant coach, and now as a head coach. (Credit The Los Angles Daily News.)

The Sylmar baseball team poses after beating San Pedro 3-0 in the City Section Division I semifinals at USC’s Dedeaux Field on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Sylmar Athletics)

Sylmar will play in the City Section Division I final against Valley Mission League rival Kennedy on Saturday at 10 a.m.

The stadium gates will open at 9 a.m. for fans. Parking is free, general admission is $15, students and seniors are $10.

The City Open Division final between Birmingham and Carson will be played at 1 p.m.

Rivera, 47, has been the team’s head coach since 2003. He knows playing at Dodger Stadium is special, and that’s been the message to his players all week, even when they played at USC’s Dedeaux Field in the semifinals, where Sylmar beat San Pedro 3-0 Tuesday evening thanks to a marvelous game from freshman pitcher Alex Martinez.

“I want them to soak it all in,” Rivera said. “I want them to get their phones out, take pictures, take videos. I want them to remember as much as possible.”

Rivera said a bus will pick up the team from school at 8 a.m. and they’re hoping to get on the field by 9 a.m. With a 10 a.m. start, the window to soak in the historic stadium, plush grass and major league dugouts will be small.

“They won’t have much time, because obviously we’re there to win and we’ll have to start getting ready for the game,” Rivera said.

Saturday’s focus is not an easy needle to thread. Rivera is telling his Spartans to take in the moment, and at the same time, don’t be satisfied with just being there.

However, he thinks the opponent is motivation enough.

“I’m not worried about this group, especially because it’s Kennedy. That’s a neighborhood-rival school, a league rival, too,” Rivera said.

Sylmar and Kennedy were co-champions in the Valley Mission League, splitting the two matchups during the regular season. The league had to determine which team would represent the first- and second-place spots for playoff purposes using a coin flip – a toss Sylmar won, which gave it the No. 4 seed in the Division I bracket. Kennedy was given the No. 6 seed.

Sylmar will be making its fifth City final appearance all-time. The school won titles in 1973 and 1980 and was the runner-up in 1983 and 2002.

Kennedy is the more storied program, making its ninth appearance. The Cougars’ only loss was to Sylmar, 3-2, in 1973. The other seven appearances (1981, ’85, ’89, ’95, ’96, ’00, ’06) were victories.

Kennedy is eyeing its first City title since 2006, while Sylmar is trying to win its first City crown since 1980.

“When the boys won at USC on Tuesday, I stayed in the dugout and just watched them celebrate,” Rivera said. “Those are precious moments.”

Maybe Rivera will get to take in one more celebration by his team at Dodger Stadium.

CREDIT - The Los Angeles Daily News


The Sylmar baseball team poses after beating San Pedro 3-0 in the City Section Division I semifinals at USC’s Dedeaux Field on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Sylmar Athletics)



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