Don Johns, there was something poetic about having the 16th annual Bay Area World Series at new Islanders Field in Lathrop this past weekend.Four years after the beautiful stadium was just a glint in his eye, Johns, the field director, marveled at the sight of 145 to 150 high school baseball stars, divided into six "teams," showcasing their skills for college recruiters at the glistening facility.History was made on a bright Saturday afternoon when Las Lomas High junior Zakai Avidor, coming off a brilliant high school season as a pitcher, hit the first home run ever at Islanders Field over the fence in right-center. On Sunday, Logan Azem of Serra High also homered for the Peninsula team.

"Definitely a good environment, a beautiful field," said Avidor, who had a 9-0 pitching record and 0.47 ERA for Las Lomas. "It was a great experience to be able to play out here." Parents, players and coaches all praised the spacious new ballpark, with its dimensions of 390 feet to center and 340 to both right and left.
Suddenly, Northern California baseball has a go-to spot in the picturesque River Islands community, nestled by the San Joaquin River. Johns loved hearing positive comments from the BAWS participants ."This is why you build something like this, to get the players out on the field,"
Johns said. "Last night I'm getting texts from college coaches that are out here watching these young athletes in the Bay Area World Series. A good friend of mine Troy Nakamura from the University of San Francisco said, 'it's unbelievable.' They hadn't seen it. They knew we were working on this."  It's giving these players and these coaches a terrific opportunity; the players for exposure and the coaches someplace to go in Northern California that's special.
"These college coaches are seeing something that hasn't ever existed in amateur baseball: a quality facility like this. It's amazing and this is just the beginning. It's a great beginning."
The BAWS, an officially scouted California Prep Baseball Report event, drew college coaches from Cal Poly, Santa Clara University, Saint Mary's, USF, San Francisco State, Nevada, Claremont-Mudd-Scripp, Pacific, and College of San Mateo. Johns, a Northern California baseball legend, has headed the heralded HOOTS program in Danville since 1991.   'BEAUTIFUL' ADDITION: 
Islanders Field was the talk of the BAWS - It's beautiful. 
The facility is outstanding when you first drive in; the bridge over there and the beautiful ballpark set up nice." It's just a beautiful facility," said BAWS staff coach Mike Smith, who coached at Saint Francis High and Fremont High-Sunnyvale.
 "The kids say it's the best mound they've been on in a long time. It's playing a lot like when they go to minor league parks in Arizona." Smith works at a hitting facility in Redwood City called The Foundry. He's done batting practice and Fungo for Blaine Clemmens, the NorCal Scouting Director for California PBR, for the past 12-13 years.
THUMBS UP FROM CIRELLI: Sacramento City College ballplayer Nick Cirelli, a former De La Salle High star, is on the Islanders Field grounds staff. Cirelli gives the new ballpark high marks."It's amazing, probably the best stadium for youth sports and even high school sports in the area," said Cirelli, who batted .500 as a Spartans senior.
 "There's nothing you can compare to it. It's almost a minor league stadium that you can play on for high school baseball, and anyone can just come and play and have fun. I really enjoy working here. It's a great venue."
Cirelli, currently recovering from an injury, played for Johns' 2018 HOOTs team that advanced to the Connie Mack World Series."He brings a lot of fun to baseball, helps guys get places," Cirelli said of Johns. "Overall, he's helped build this field and many other fields. He's a legend in the sport of baseball, especially in the state of California."BAWS STANDOUTS:
 Among the many prospects looking good at the BAWS:
  •  LHP Andrew LaCour of Las Lomas (85 mph fastball, sharp curve); 
  • RHP Nathaniel Brouse of Aptos HS (88 mph, sharp breaking ball);
  •  RHP/3B David Rodriguez of Vacaville (defense, pitching, hitting); 
  • RHP Ethan Medders of Rio Vista (85 mph);
  • INF Patrick Keighran of Serra (hitting); 
  • INF Kobe Rolling of Wood (hitting);
  •  INF Zach Yorke of Archbishop Mitty (hitting);
  •  LHP Connor Brady of Serra (pitching, 5 Ks in a row); INF Harry Mauterer of Maria Carillo (hitting); OF Connor Hennings of Live Oak (hitting); and INF Armis Morris of Westmont (hitting);
  • LHP Eddie Curley of Clayton Valley (85 mph);
  •  RHP Alex Dargan of Tamalpais (85 mph, sharp curve).
NOTE: For BAWS player profiles and stats, including running times and videos, visit the PBR California page at https://www.prepbaseballreport.For general information, visit https://www.bayareaworldseries or the Islanders Field website at
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