Baseball Reloads With Strong Freshmen Class As '24 Season Begins

Connor Campbell delivers a pitch in PCC's win at Citrus College on Saturday (photo by Richard Quinton).
Connor Campbell delivers a pitch in PCC's win at Citrus College on Saturday (photo by Richard Quinton).

The toughest task for any program is to replace graduating sophomores and in no other season under head coach Pat McGee has the Pasadena City College baseball program had to rebuild a squad more than for this 2024 season.

PCC moves on from last year's South Coast Conference MVP and PCC Men's Athlete of the Year for 2022-23 Jakob Guardado (NCAA Division I University of Pacific), decorated All-SCC first baseman Jake Trabbie (D1 Central Arkansas), All-SCC First Team third baseman Toshiki Kuriya and 2-time, all-conference selection starting pitcher Coleman Mitchell, both at NAIA Cumberland (Tennessee). 

The program also lost both of its 2-year catchers in Matthew Delgado (D2 Rogers State) and Matt Rice (D3 La Verne), All-SCC First Team closer Rider Gardner, All-SCC Second Team centerfielder Tommy Castillo, '23 starting pitcher Kyle Noell (also at La Verne), and two other starting outfielders. 

Building on a team that won 25 games and advanced to the Southern California Regional Playoffs for a fifth straight season last year, McGee has put together another competitive squad for this season, but reloading with mostly new components.

"We have a young group that is going to have to gain experience and grow in a hurry," said McGee, who is in his ninth season directing the Lancers.

"Outside of a few guys, our sophomores have very limited game experience. I expect our players to compete as always, but we will need to learn how to close out and win games in the ultra-competitive South Coast Conference. Getting these young men ready and determing what that combination of players looks like on the field is the job of myself and my coaching staff."

McGee welcomes the return of pitching coach Nico Calderaro along with other assistants in Steve Allyn and Brendan Campbell.


The Lancers bring back seven letterman, led by last year's starting middle infield in second baseman Ivan Barragan (.259, 14 RBI) and shortstop Jack Esguerra (14 RBI), both strong defensive players.

Other key pieces coming back are third baseman /pitcher Jaden Guzman (.269 in 12 games) and pitcher Ben Griffith, who was a strong reliever with a 3-1 record and one save in 21 games last season.

Outfielder Evan Coad and relievers Jacob Fox and Justin Goldman also return. 

Catcher Mark Manuel is a sophomore transfer who played at Mt. San Antonio College last season while pitcher Jameson Ferraro is a bounceback after playing for D1 Brigham Young University last year.


It was another strong recruiting class for McGee beginning with All-Olympic Team First Team middle infielder Bryan Richman, a local product from Maranatha High.

Pitcher-outfielder Joe Bacon, from Pasadena High, was the Pacific League Co-Player of the Year and All-CIF Division 5 along with first baseman Adrian Roman, who also a Whittier Daily News All-Area selection. Bacon was a member of the Pasadena Star News All-Area Team.

Lefty hurler Ernesto Duenas made the CIF Southern Section record books when he struck out 18 batters in a no-hitter for Gladstone High. Duenas, an All-CIF Division 7 selection, had the second most strikeouts ever pitched in a no-hitter.

Other notables include centerfielder Tyler Garcia, a highly touted from Chaminade High, redshirt freshman catcher Evan Nahra, an All-Del Rey League First Team choice from La Salle HS, All-Pacific League First Team pitcher Connor Campbell (Crescenta Valley HS), and another All-Del Rey League First Teamer in infielder Devin Munoz, who originally committed to the University of Oklahoma before joining the Lancers family. 

The freshmen crop also features All-Prep League outfielder Trevor Scott, All-Mt. Baldy League pitcher-outfielder Thomas Villanueva, All-Pacific League utility player Ryan Ivanyi (Crescenta Valley), and third baseman Jesus Zuniga, a talent from Pasadena HS.


PCC opened the '24 season on Jan. 26 with a tough 8-7 loss at Cypress, but rebounded by defeating host Citrus, 10-2, on Jan. 27.

Against Cypress, the Lancers rallied to score five runs in the fifth inning for a 7-4 lead. Garcia and Scott each had RBI singles in that inning.

The Chargers though came back with three runs in the bottom of the ninth capped by a walk-off RBI single by Evan Roelbiecki. 

Manuel was 2-for-4 with a double, Roman was 1-for-2 with three walks, and Bacon had a brilliant collegiate pitching debut as he relieved in the third inning and went on to twirl five innings of 3-hit shutout ball with six strikeouts.

In the Citrus win, the Owls led 2-1 after three innings, but the Lancers scored four in the top of the fourth, three on a bases-clearing double down the right field line by Manuel.

In the eighth, PCC put up a 5-spot as Garcia slugged a 3-run homer well over the left field fence to cap the victory.

Like Bacon, the duo of starter Campbell and reliever Duenas were outstanding in their first community college appearances as they combined for a 3-hitter. Campbell earned the victory, allowing just one hit over five innings, and Duenas picked up a 4-inning save as he allowed just two hits, no walks and struck out three. 

At designated hitter, Manuel was 3-for-4 with four RBI, Roman 3-for-5 with a double, catcher Evan Nahra 2-for-4 with a double, Scott hit a triple (1-for-4), and Richman, playing shortstop scored three runs and drew three walks.