Cole Bellinger hoping for second consecutive Arizona State title

By now most Dodger fans are well aware that there is another Bellinger out there besides Dodgers rookie phenom first baseman / outfielder Cody Bellinger. No, I’m not talking about Cody’s father Clay Bellinger, who is the proud owner of two World Series rings while playing for the New York Yankees in 1999 and 2000. I’m talking about Cody’s 17-year-old brother Cole Bellinger, who is the ace right-hander for the Hamilton High School Huskies in Chandler, Arizona and who – on Tuesday evening – will be the starting pitcher with hopes of leading his team to their second consecutive Arizona Division 1 State Championship title.

“It’s crazy. Obviously last year we won it as a team and this year we didn’t start off the way we would have liked,” said Cole Bellinger. “But we knew as the season went on we’d figure out some things, and then in the playoffs last year we did crazy good, so we’re right back where we should be this year.”

A big part of why the Hamilton Huskies struggled early in their attempt to defend their 2016 State Championship title had a lot to do with Cole himself. He missed nearly half of his team’s 32 regular season games due to an injury … that is, if you call a regular season record of 22-10 (.687) struggling.

“I pulled an oblique and was out for about five weeks,” Bellinger said. “But as far as my pitching, I was 3-1. It was about the same as last year.”

Hamilton High’s Cole Bellinger posted a 3-1 record and very impressive 2.05 ERA in his eight appearance with the Huskies this season. He gets the start in tonight’s win-or-go-home Arizona State Championship game against the Pinnacle High School Pioneers.
(Photo credit – Bill Mitchell)

Speaking of last year, the younger Bellinger brother started that State Championship game as well – a game against the Mountain Ridge High School Lions and one that was delayed for over an hour due to a thunder and lightning (and intermittent rain) storm that rolled through – but not before the then 16-year-old right-hander tossed four scoreless innings in which he allowed only four hits. Bellinger and his teammates went on to win the game and the State Championship by a final score of 12-3.

Hamilton’s success last year and again this year is no fluke. In fact, since 2003, Hamilton has won five Arizona State Championship titles (2003, 2004, 2008, 2014 and 2016) and were the runners-up in three others (2005, 2009 and 2011). To what does Bellinger credit this remarkable success?

“Our coach, coach Mike Woods, does a great job in developing us into good players and players that we could potentially be,” Bellinger said, without hesitation.

Hamilton High School head coach Mike Woods.
(Photo courtesy of Hamilton High School Baseball)

But if the great game of baseball has taught us anything, it has taught us that any team can beat any other team on any given day. And in spite Hamilton’s remarkable championship record, they are facing a worthy opponent later this evening – a very worthy opponent – the Pinnacle High School Pioneers and their 26-8 overall record, which has them ranked second in the state compared to Hamilton’s number four ranking. The 7 pm MT game will be held at Tempe Diablo Stadium, the spring training home of the Angels of Anaheim.

As is usually the case – especially with high school teams with the success that Hamilton has enjoyed over the past decade and a half – there are often quite a few baseball scouts in attendance at many of the games and even more so during playoff and championship games. In fact, since Hamilton High School opened its doors in 1998, there have been 13 kids drafted by major league teams, including one former first-rounder, one third-rounder, two fourth-rounders (including Cole’s brother Cody) and one seventh-rounder. Does Cole – who also plays in the infield – like his chances of being drafted out of high school, as was Cody?

“Being on a good team helps a lot,” Bellinger said. “We’ve got a couple kids on the team that are getting looked at for the draft this year, so you definitely see some scouts out there.”

But even if young Cole doesn’t get drafted this June, he most certainly could be drafted out of Grand Canyon University, where he has committed to attend and play college ball next season, along with several of his Hamilton Huskies teammates.

But somehow I get the feeling that Cole Bellinger is already on the radar of several major league teams.

…say like the Dodgers maybe?


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