Spartans’ Stambler honored as MVP
A senior and sophomore from Centennial landed spots on the superlative list for the District 9-5A baseball team.
Senior catcher/pitcher Payton Stramber was honored as 9-5A’s Most Valuable Player while sophomore pitcher Jacob Meador was named Pitcher of the Year.
The pair played major roles in the Spartans finishing second in district play and advancing to the third-round of playoffs. Centennial went 10-4 to finish second in district and posted an overall mark of 23-12-1.
The Spartans did that even without key players Thomas Santos and Devin Paz, who missed most of the season.
“We lost two game-changing players and still found a way to win,” Centennial coach Brad Hart said. “We won 23 games and went as deep as any team in the program has in the playoffs. It was a good team effort. I’m proud of them for just sucking it up and going out there and playing.”
Strambler, a three-year starter, did it all for the Spartans this season. He hit .476 with a .619 slugging percentage. He had two home runs and five RBI. In seven starts, he was 3.01 with a 5.02 ERA. In 29.1 innings he allowed 23 hits and fanned 43.
“He does it all and that’s why he got the honor,” Hart said. “He caught well, hit for a high average and had some good outings on the mound. There wasn’t anybody in the district who did what he did this year.”
After closing last season for the Spartans, Meador slide into the role of starter. He took over Thomas Santos’ role as a district starter and embraced the job.
“I don’t know where that arm comes from but he’s amazing,” Hart said. “The thing that is so amazing about him is how much he understands about the mechanics of pitching and how to use his lower half to create velocity. As the year went on he just got better and better. He was just so consistent and so good at what he does. An amazing competitor.”
In district play, Meador posted a record of 5-2 in seven starters. Over 43 innings, he allowed 20 hits and six earned runs. He walked 18 and struck out 66.
The Spartans had two first-team players in senior center fielder Ethan Quintanilla, senior shortstop Blake Birdwell and sophomore second baseman Miguel Santos.
Quintanilla, another three-year starter, hit .319 with a .532 slugging percentage. He had 16 RBI, two doubles, a triple and two home runs.
“It’s a luxury when you put him in center, Dexter Pruitt in left and Adrian Gracia in right because those guys can go get it,” Hart said. “Ethan is so fast and athletic. He hit well as a senior. He and Payton tied the school record for home runs. He’s just good baseball player.”
Birdwell took over at shortstop after Thomas Santos injury and fill the hole admirably.
In district play, Birdwell hit .289 with five doubles, a home run, four RBI and 12 runs scored. Santos took over at second base in his first full season with the varsity. The sophomore hit .302 with six doubles, a triple, 15 runs scored and 10 RBI.
“He’s a competitive kid who works his tail off,” Hart said. “He’s just good all-around baseball player. He has a lot of potential. He hit leadoff for us and did a great job."
Centennial produced four second-team players in seniors Beau Staton, Pruit, sophomores Hunter Prescher and Ethan Diaz.
Staton hit .364 with six doubles and a triple and five RBI while starting at first or catching. Pruitt finished with a .302 batting average with three doubles and nine RBI. Prescher started at third and hit .326 with six doubles and seven RBI. Diaz hit .412 while seeing time at designated hitter.