Sandoval to play college baseball at Vanguard

Brandon Sandoval has agreed to play collegiate baseball at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa.

The 2013 Fallbrook High School graduate signed his letter of intent April 21 at his Fallbrook home.

“I’m excited for the opportunity,” Sandoval said. “I’m just pumped about college.”

Sandoval also considered the University of New Mexico, the University of San Diego, and Cal State University San Marcos before signing with the Lions. “I just liked the atmosphere, how small it was,” Sandoval said of Vanguard.

“I’m extremely excited about him signing,” said Vanguard coach Rob Pegg. “We’re just excited to have him.”

Pegg had Sandoval work out with the Vanguard team. “He did a very solid job,” Pegg said.

“He’s a very athletic kid,” Pegg said. “Good head on his shoulders, good work ethic.”

During the 2013 season, Sandoval appeared in 24 games. He batted .455 with 35 hits in 77 at-bats; those hits included six doubles and four home runs. Sandoval, who was Fallbrook’s leadoff hitter, scored 25 runs while driving in nine. He had 19 stolen bases and was caught stealing nine times. His eight walks gave him an on-base percentage of .528 while his extra-base hits resulted in a .688 slugging percentage.

In 2012, Sandoval batted .350 with 19 runs scored, 29 hits, nine doubles, a triple, three home runs, and 16 runs batted in. His four stolen bases and five sacrifice bunts both led the team.

Sandoval’s sophomore season in 2011 included a .414 batting average and 29 runs scored which both led the team, 36 hits and 10 stolen bases which both shared the team lead, eight doubles, a home run, and 11 runs batted in.

“I think Vanguard’s going to be a great fit for him,” said Fallbrook coach Mark DiBenedetti. “It’s just a great environment.”

DiBenedetti noted that Vanguard is strong academically and also plays in a competitive baseball league. “I think he’s going to shine. I think Brandon’s just going to get better and better,” he said.

“I think he’s going to be able to showcase his talents in college,” DiBenedetti said. “Brandon’s the type of player that’s just going to blossom. We have yet to see the best of Brandon Sandoval.”

Sandoval was born in 1995 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and moved to Bend, Oregon in 1997. He moved from Bend to Fallbrook in 2001, when he was in first grade, and attended William H. Frazier Elementary School, Live Oak Elementary School, and Potter Junior High School before his four years at Fallbrook High School.

Sandoval’s arrival in Fallbrook also allowed him to begin his Fallbrook Youth Baseball career in 2001. He began playing travel ball in 2004 with the So Cal Red Sox, and most recently he was with the Game Face travel team.

Sandoval’s father, Rafael, played volleyball for the Mexican national team. Sandoval’s mother, Shelley, grew up in Seattle and was on the high school volleyball and track teams. His sister Hazel played high school volleyball in Mexico. His brother, Matthew, completed 10th grade at Fallbrook High School last month and is the Warriors’ varsity lacrosse goalie.

Sandoval also played basketball at Fallbrook High School. He was the freshman team’s Most Valuable Player in ninth grade and the junior varsity Most Valuable Player as a sophomore. Sandoval spent two years on varsity basketball team, earning team Most Improved honors as a junior and Most Valuable Player recognition as a senior.

“Baseball and basketball have just been my life the last four years pretty much,” Sandoval said.

The requirements for the county all-academic team include being a junior or senior as well as being on the varsity and having at least a 3.0 grade point average. Sandoval was on the all-academic team for both baseball and basketball during his two years of grade-level eligibility.

Sandoval considers the highlight of his Fallbrook High School baseball career to be playing in the 2011 game honoring Duke Snider. Snider, a Baseball Hall of Fame member who lived in Fallbrook for more than 50 years and was involved with the Warrior baseball program, passed away six days before Fallbrook’s March 5 season opener against Temecula Valley High School. Players from both teams honored Snider by wearing uniform number 4, which was Snider’s number with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers.

“He’s going to get better and better as time goes on,” DiBenedetti said.

“I guess I’m just ready for that next step,” Sandoval said. “It should be an interesting journey, but I’m ready for it.”

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