Cathedral Catholic’s baseball team ranked No. 1 in the country

By Gideon Rubin

The honors for Cathedral Catholic’s baseball team typically come in June, and just about like clockwork.

This year, they’re coming in February.

The Dons, who are in the midst of a San Diego Section dynasty, are the nation’s top-ranked high school team according to two major national preseason polls and are near the top of just about every reputable poll.

The Dons are ranked No. 1 in USA Today and Collegiate Baseball. They are ranked third in Baseball America’s preseason poll.

The Dons have won San Diego Section Division III titles in each of the last two years and four of the last five years, with five consecutive championship game appearances. They’ve won seven championships over the last 12 years (including three as University High) and have been to the finals in all but one year since arriving at their new Carmel Valley campus in the fall of 2005.

“I guess it’s kind of overwhelming in a way based on the amount of attention you end up getting, but it’s definitely an honor,” Dons coach Gary Remiker said.

The Dons have been getting a lot of attention in large part because of a dominant pitching staff featuring an unheard of five Division I-bound arms.

The Dons have eight players already committed to Division I colleges and are likely to send two or so more that way. Remiker estimates that at least 13 of the 20 players on his roster will play college ball.

University of San Diego-bound Stephen Gonsalves, a hard-throwing lefthander who throws tops out over 90, went 9-1 with a 1.91 ERA last season.

The pitching staff also features UCLA-bound lefty Brady Aiken, UC Irvine-bound Michael Martin, and Alex Schick and Andrew Wright, who are headed to UC Berkeley and Pepperdine, respectively.

Aiken, a junior, was 6-1 with a 1.32 ERA last season. Martin, the reigning Western League Player of the Year, was 7-2 with a 0.90 ERA and hit .374.

The 6-foot-7 Schick was 4-1 with a 1.04 ERA last season.

Remiker acknowledged that he wasn’t aware of a high school team anywhere in the country that’s ever had as many as five Division I-bound pitchers.

“It’s unique to have that many quality pitchers on a high school team,” he said. “Hopefully everybody stays healthy and everyone pitches to their potential and their ability and we have a memorable season.”

Also headed to Division I colleges are shortstop Hayden Grant (Purdue), cather/outfielder Dave Simpson (UC San Diego), and infielder Sean Bouchard (verbal commitment to UCLA).

The Dons made USA Today’s top 25 poll in 2009, but the top spot in a national poll is a first according to Remiker, whose program has never cracked the top 10 in any major national poll.

Remiker acknowledged that the national prominence has put extra pressure on him and his staff, and said he imagines his players are probably feeling some too.

“I’m trying to preach to the kids that they should enjoy it while it’s here because who knows how long it will last,” Remiker said.

“Very few teams and very few athletes can ever claim they were ranked No. 1 in the nation at any time in anything. Even if we go out and get our butts kicked on opening day by La Costa Canyon and drop out of the rankings, these kids can always say that at one point they were ranked No. 1 in the nation, so I want them to enjoy it.”