2001 Burrough’s baseball’s long journey to Dodger Stadium

2001 Burrough’s baseball’s long journey to Dodger StadiumBruce Auld, a former Sierra Sands Unified School District Superintendent, is writing the history of Burroughs High School. The articles that are being published are excerpts from his upcoming book, exclusive to The News Review. On June 2, 2001, Burroughs senior Casey Groves was batting second in the line-up. The crack of the bat echoed throughout Dodger Stadium. Casey’s hit careened off the outfield wall, an extra base double. Casey will always be the first Burro to successfully hit in a CIF SS final. (Observation by Coach Larry Bird)

Baseball was relatively late in the Burroughs athletic line-up. Why? I don’t know. Football, basketball, volleyball, track and tennis were well established when baseball debuted in 1951. The Girls Athletic Association was long underway as well. Burroughs baseball played three games in 1951, winning against Barstow 13-7, yet dropping the final two games 7-8 against Trona and 2-11 against Lone Pine.

On June 2, 2001, fifty years after Burrough’s baseball debut, the Burros made it to Dodger Stadium to play the number one team in the nation, Bishop Amat of La Puente.

Twenty years ago, this group of young men, who like Todd Mather’s 2017 football team that likewise made the state finals, had developed their skills together for nearly a decade. John Martin (BHS 1966) played a variety of roles in that long journey to Dodger Stadium.

I recently asked JD Martin, the only Burro to play Major League Baseball (Washington Nationals), whom from that 2001 roster were his teammates for nearly a decade. Playing with JD for years were: Casey Groves, Spencer Richards, Caleb Crow, Jon Foisy, Justin Raglin and James Annos. To have seven long-term players on this roster is remarkable. Rounding out the 2001 team playing in Dodger Stadium were Brian Cassidy, Tyler Curran, Matthew Freese, Mike Irwin, Pat Graham, Tyler Kraz and Ryan Raglin. Coaching the Burros on June 2, 2001 were John Martin, Rocky Groves, Tom Annos and Head Coach Darrin McComas. John Martin may well have been the consistent thread over the many years that stitched this team together.

As these young athletes approached middle school, a new travelling team was created. “Junior Desert Dawg Baseball” (named after Cerro Coso’s summer club team, “The Desert Dawgs”). John and LC Martin recognized that this group of 11-year-old players had the talent, but not the game experience to advance to elite play. In 1994, the Junior Desert Dawgs Baseball officially organized, conducted fundraisers, joined nationally recognized youth baseball organizations and began to play 100 games per year for nearly a decade. In 1995, this group of twelve-year-olds and their families raised $40,000 and flew to Omaha, Nebraska to beat Omaha’s number 1 ranked team. Then drove to Des Moines, Iowa. Same result. Then drove to Burnsville, Minnesota to compete in the AAU National Championships, placing 13th of 50 teams. (Interview with Casey and Rocky Groves)

Former Cerro Coso head baseball coach, Dick Adams, would for years send “his men” to work with the boys. It seems the boys would rather learn from their “idols” in uniforms than their dads. The team was further supported by Cerro Coso assistant coaches, John Bradley and Davie Navarro.

Although the journey to Dodger Stadium likely began a decade earlier in youth baseball, the official road to Dodger Stadium began in May 2000, when the Burros qualified for the 2000 Division IV CIF Southern Section baseball play-offs, beginning a nine-game post season run over two consecutive years:

2000 Round One: BHS 11 over Bishop Mora Salesiano 0 (five innings, “mercy rule”)

2000 Round Two: BHS 10 over Gabriefino 2

2000 Quarter Finals: BHS 3 over Charminade 1

2000 Semi Finals: Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) 8 over BHS 5. This was a home game for the Burros and IWV winds were fierce. With two runners on base, JD Martin hit what looked to be a clean homerun. As the ball was clearing the fence, a wind gust altered the trajectory, dropping the ball in the center fielder’s glove just beyond the fence. (Rocky Groves)

San Luis Obispo was the 2000 Division IV champions (2000 CIF SS Fall Bulletin)

As the 2001 Division IV commenced, Bishop Amat (22-2) was number one in the Del Rey League and sports writers offered that they were number one in the nation. The Burros (17-5) were number one in the Desert Sky League.

2001 Round One: BHS 5 Servite 4

2001 Round Two: BHS 3 San Luis Obispo (2000 Champs) 1.

2001 Quarter: BHS 10 LaQuinta/Westminister 2

2001 Semi Finals: BHS 6 Bonita 5

2001 Final: Bishop Amat 8 BHS 0 (CIF SS Fall Bulletin)

The Burros went 7 and 2 in post season play over the course of two seasons. A .778 post season record.

Winning against the Burros, Bishop Amat secured its fourth title. Bishop Amat would win again in 2002 and to date have nine titles. (High School Sports News).

From that 2001 team, Jon Foisy played two years at Cerro Coso, transferring to Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Casey Groves played two years at Cerro Coso transferring to University of St. Mary’s in Leavenworth, Kansas, taking five of his Cerro Coso teammates with him. JD Martin, although offered numerous “full-ride” scholarships, was drafted in the first round by Cleveland Indians. On July 20, 2009, JD made his major league debut with the Washington Nationals against the New York Mets, the only Burro to date to play Major League Baseball. On-deck: Mather, Martin, Stoner and Dr. Joe Norris

Courtesy photo: 2001 CIF SS finals at Dodger Stadium. Burroughs first base coach, number 15, Rocky Groves, coaching Casey Groves on first base and Jon Foisy on second base.

Story First Published: 2021-10-01