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Bruins Winding Down Summer Season

Each and every baseball team in the competitive Trans-Valley League is taking steps to better their respective programs for the 2009 season and things are no different for the Riverbank Bruins baseball club.

The Bruins are using the summer months to build some momentum to grow on during the regular season. Riverbank has no intentions of setting themselves up for the same struggles that challenged the squad this past baseball season.

The Bruins took to the field for the Highway 120 Classic hosted by TVL powerhouse Escalon High from June 24 to June 28. The Bruins were one of eight teams doing battle at Bob Loureiro Field on the Escalon High campus.

Pool play left the Bruins matched up with Los Banos, Linden and Waterford, while host Escalon was in pool A with Bret Harte, Amador and Central Valley.

The Bruins did not have a great deal of success in the win-loss column of the tournament, but the squad did take some positive steps into making next year's high school squad more competitive than this past year's squad.

Miguel Hernandez will likely be a key ingredient to any sort of success the Bruins have in the future. The returning sophomore has a season of varsity experience under his belt and will undoubtedly be a leader for the Bruin program.

Hernandez put forth a tremendous effort during a double-digit loss to Waterford, continuing to keep his teammates involved and handling the pitching staff with a sense of pride.

Riverbank head skip Ismael Mercado oversees the Riverbank summer program, giving the second year coach a first-hand view of who he can expect to be an addition to the Bruins' squad in the spring season.

Ryan Bowden is close to the form he reached at the close of the past season, looking good in the batter's box, stroking a double off of the leftfield wall, giving the Bruins a legitimate opportunity to score.

Bowden will likely get some support from standout Blake Costalupes, who will play an integral part of the Bruins plan in the upcoming season. Each player, like the coaching staff, will have to work together as a team to help the Bruins along through a tough transitional period.

The Bruins did get a pleasant surprise from pitcher Tyler Fipps, who even with minimal defensive support, continued to be effective in the strike zone giving Riverbank an opportunity to make plays behind him.