As the end of summer draws near, collegiate baseball leagues, well… the ones that took strict precautions during the pandemic, are wrapping up their seasons. Many local players, who either just graduated high school or are well into their collegiate careers, played all over the country, including right here in their own backyard.

The SoCal Collegiate Baseball league, which took place between eight Southern California teams, with games being played at San Manuel Stadium, showcased a good number of local players all summer long. The games were closed to the public, except to Major League Baseball scouts or agents, and featured local names like Jacob Mantiply (Great Oak; Palomar College), Jeremy Lopes (Chaparral; Dakota State University), Jonathon Combs (Chaparral; California State University San Marcos), Dylan Morace (Murrieta Valley; University of Colorado Colorado Springs), Cade Swenson (Paloma Valley; Palomar College), Joseph Romero (Vista Murrieta; California Baptist University) and Zach Rodriguez (Vista Murrieta; University of California Santa Barbara), just to name a few.

Players in the SoCal Collegiate Baseball league play a full summer season despite the restrictions due to COVID-19. Valley News/Courtesy photo

San Manuel Stadium opened in 1996, replacing Fiscalini Field as the home park of Minor League Baseball’s Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino. Before then, the 66ers shared Fiscalini Field with California State University San Bernardino Coyotes and San Bernardino Valley College Wolverines. San Manuel Stadium is named after the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, which is based in San Bernardino and paid for the naming rights.

In early August, the league also held the “Best of the West” All-Star game between Inland Empire and Orange County players, which featured the two players, formerly of Vista Murrieta High School.

Joseph Romero, former Vista Murrieta High School standout and current California Baptist University freshman, pitches in the “Best of the West” All-Star game held in early August at San Manuel Stadium in San Bernardino. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Recent 2020 Bronco grads, Zach Rodriguez and Joseph Romero were chosen to showcase their skills alongside 31 other players from the league. Romero represented the Orange County team, and Rodriguez represented the Inland Empire team. Families could enter the stadium and could watch from the suites, or the pavilion, but due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, they could not sit in the stands, masks had to be worn and social distancing was enforced.

The mission of Inland Valley Baseball, which held the “Best of the West” tournament, is to provide the opportunity for college athletes at the highest levels to compete and showcase their athletic skills before their colleges go into the fall session. The organization takes pride in being Baseballcentric. What does that mean? They love the game of baseball and are passionate about its positive influence on athletes while striving to create enjoyable and memorable experiences for the players, coaches, managers and fans.

To find out more information visit http://www.inlandvalleybaseball.com.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at sports@reedermedia.com.