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MLB Draft still the end game for DeNato

03/24/2014, 3:00pm PDT
By John Maffei

The undrafted former Torrey Pines pitcher keeping his big league hopes alive at Indiana.

Indiana pitcher Joey DeNato, center, is congratulated by teammates Scott Effross, left, Scott Donley (3) and Luke Harrison (28) after he pitched a complete game against Louisville in an NCAA College World Series game in Omaha, Neb., Saturday, June 15, 201

Joey DeNato didn't expect to get drafted high.

But after a fine three-year baseball career at Indiana and a junior year in which he was 10-2, the former Torrey Pines High star figured some major-league clubs would take a chance.

Projected to be taken in the middle rounds, the left-hander's name was never called.

"My career goal is to get drafted and play in the major leagues," DeNato said. "Probably every kid who plays baseball has that dream at some point. And I understand it doesn't happen for everyone.

"I'm not the most projectable guy in the eyes of the scouts."

But he can pitch.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound DeNato is 4-1 this season with a 2.39 ERA.

Now a senior, his career numbers read 28-9 with a 2.78 ERA.

He has pitched 298 innings for the Hoosiers and is the school's all-time strikeout leader with 244.

He was a respectable 7-3 as both a redshirt freshman and sophomore.

Last season, however, was a breakout year.

He went 10-2 with a 2.53 ERA, pitching 103 2/3 innings for the Hoosiers. The highlight was a complete-game shutout of Louisville in the College World Series.

"The College World Series was cool, very cool," DeNato said. "The team played with confidence and intensity all season. We dealt with pressure very well.

"I'd love to get back there again."

Indiana is 12-9 this season, so that may not happen.

"I was disappointed I wasn't drafted, but I was content to come back to school because I have so many friends here," DeNato said.

"My goal is still to play pro ball, so I want to make the most of the season. I realize this might be my last year of playing. So I want to enjoy it. Winning is fun."

After a brilliant career at Torrey Pines, in which he had a 28-5 record and was 10-2 as a senior, DeNato narrowed his college choices to Oregon, USD and Indiana.

"I visited Indiana and from the minute I stepped on campus, I knew this was the place for me," DeNato said.

"And I haven't been disappointed. College has been awesome, more than I expected."

Now he'd like to take the next step.


  • Cal State Fullerton sophomore right-hander Thomas Eshelman (Carlsbad) improved to 4-0 on the season after hurling a complete-game, 10-hitter Friday against Long Beach State. Eshelman, who improved to 4-0, allowed one unearned run in a 5-1 win, lowering his ERA to 1.47. Earlier this season he had an 87-pitch, three-hit, compete game against Baylor. A sophomore, Eshelman is 16-3 in his two seasons for the Titans.
  • Brett Ackerman (Poway/San Diego Mesa), a senior shortstop at Eastern New Mexico, is hitting .324 after 27 games with seven errors in 103 chances. Left-hander Rusty Edwards (El Camino/Palomar College) is 3-3.
  • Jimmy Allen (Rancho Buena Vista) is hitting .326 with eight doubles, two triples and 17 RBI for an 18-4 Cal Poly-SLO team. Outfielder Zack Zehner (Torrey Pines) is hitting .269 with a homer and seven RBI while freshman pitcher Slater Lee (Carlsbad) is 2-1 with a 5.68 ERA after six appearances.
  • Freshman right-hander Parker Bugg (Rancho Bernardo) has appeared in 10 games for LSU. He's 0-1 with a save and has an 0.84 ERA. In 10 2/3 innings, he has 12 strikeouts and hasn't walked a batter.

Men's basketball

-Maliik Love (Bishop's) played 13 minutes, scoring two points in Cal Poly-SLO's first-round NCAA Tournament win over Texas Southern. He had three assists, a steal and a rebound in that game. The Mustangs lost to Wichita State in the second round, but Love - a junior guard - played 22 minutes and led the team in scoring with nine points. He also had three rebounds, three steals and an assists. He played in all 34 games for Cal Poly, averaging 16.3 minutes, 3.5 points and 1.9 rebounds with 54 assists and 16 steals.

  • Brynton Lamar (St. Augustine) finished his freshman season averaging 7.9 points and 1.9 rebounds at UC Davis. He started 13 games for the Aggies.

Men's swimming

  • Trent Williams (Rancho Bernardo) finished third in the 200 freestyle (1:34.01) and swam the lead leg on the 800 freestyle relay team (6:16.41) as Cal won the Pac-12 championship, outdistancing Stanford 786-661. The Bears are among the favorites at the NCAA Championships that start Thursday in Austin, Texas.


  • Nikki Larch-Miller (Torrey Pines), a freshman at Wichita State, won the Missouri Valley pentathlon with a score of 3,996. That was the 20th-best score in the nation among NCAA Division I schools and second-best among freshmen. Taylor Larch-Miller, Nikki's twin sister, is also at Wichita State. She had ankle surgery a month after arriving on campus and had a cardiac scare. She has been cleared to compete, however, and will try her hand at the pentathlon.

Women's volleyball

Former La Costa Canyon players walked away with three top awards at Yale. Kendall Polan was named MVP, Maddie Rudnick received the Coaches Award and Karlee Fuller got the Players Award.

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