Consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but if it wins baseball games, Edison High School baseball Coach Ron LaRuffa and Huntington Beach Coach Mike Dodd are willing to accept a double helping.
Both teams are expected to be among the Sunset League contenders. But each has been dogged by inconsistency, slouching through several unexpected losses.
The Chargers (2-1, 9-4), however, played well Saturday at Huntington Beach.
Equipped with the hard fastball and fickle curveball of Todd Bridenball, Edison shut out Huntington Beach, 6-0, on a four-hitter. Bridenball pitched seven innings, striking out seven, walking four and raising his record to 3-0.
But LaRuffa observed that the Chargers always play well after a loss. Ocean View supplied that motivation Tuesday. It was the crowning blow to mark the first week the Chargers have slipped out of the Orange County Top 10.
"We've been struggling. We've been inconsistent in our mental approach to the game," LaRuffa said. "We win two and drop the next one, and that's unusual for Edison. We don't have a dominating individual player, but we're very deep, so each player has got to give his best effort
"The team that gives the best effort, day-in and day-out, is going to win this league--not the best team ability-wise."
While Edison busied itself with burying the memory of its last game, Huntington Beach (1-2, 6-5) had another off-day Saturday. Although the Oilers proved their power earlier this season by homering four times in a game, they suffered an apparent power outage against Bridenball.
Dodd says he has trouble recognizing his team on certain days. The faces and the uniforms are familiar, but the quality of play varies radically. Saturday shaped up to be one of those days.
Three times--in the first, fourth and sixth innings--the Oilers went down in order against Bridenball. In two other innings, just four players came to bat. No Oiler got an extra-base hit, and no base runner advanced as far as third.
"I'm at a loss for words," Dodd said. "I never know which team is going to show up. We can hit the ball as well as anybody in the league, but our problem is inconsistency. We were impatient, and we were swinging at bad pitches. We are a physical team, but we've got to be under control.
"When you start out 1-2, the season gets short real quick."
Although Edison didn't get a hit from the first three players in its lineup, its number four, five and six hitters more than compensated. Chip Damato, Jeff Kent and Mark Miller each singled twice. Deep in the order, No. 8 hitter Greg Martin had two singles, one the two-RBI hit that broke the Oilers in the fifth inning.
Edison took a 2-0 advantage in the second after Damato and Kent got their first hits off Oiler starter Ed Lidyoff (1-2). Both players moved into scoring position when Huntington Beach left fielder Coley McClendon misplayed Kent's base hit. Miller's grounder allowed Damato to score, and Ron Chock laid down a squeeze bunt to score Kent.
Two of the Oiler errors aided the Chargers in the fifth inning. With two out, Damato got a base hit that took a strange bounce out of the infield and into shallow right field. Kent singled to right, and Oiler third baseman Jim Dedrick committed an error in fielding the throw to third. As a result, Damato scored and Kent took second base.
Miller followed with a bloop hit over first base, and Ron Chock was intentionally walked, loading the bases. Oiler catcher Darrin Tomasick tried to pick off Chock at first base, but threw the ball into right field, instead. Kent scored, and Edison led, 4-0.
To complete the scoring, Martin hit a single that careened off the mound and into right field, and Miller and Chock came home for the eventual winning margin.
In other Sunset League action:
Marina 5, Ocean View 4--Viking right fielder Tom McNamara scored on Mike Huyler's sacrifice fly to left field in the bottom of the eighth inning to give Marina (2-1) the win at home.
The winning run came after McNamara had walked to lead off the inning. After Viking second baseman Pete Laszlo singled, catcher Matt Hattabaugh sacrificed the runners to second and third base, setting up Huyler's game-winning hit.
The Vikings broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth when Steve Blokdyk singled in two runs. But the Seahawks tied the score again in the sixth when Phillip Chess hit a two-run home run. Pitcher Rob Hanson got the win for the Vikings. Tom Smythe was the losing pitcher.
In Angelus League action:
Servite 15, Pius 4--Warrior pitchers walked 15 Friars as Servite improved its league record to 3-0. In the second inning, the Friars scored five runs on only one hit--an RBI single by Corey Wentz. The other four came on six walks and a two-base error. Pitcher Eric Buechele, who was 2 for 4 with four RBIs and a homer, got the win.
In the Loara tournament:
La Quinta 9, Esperanza 8--The Aztecs captured the third-place game when Jerry Bryant was forced home with the winning run in the eighth inning on a bases-loaded walk.
Esperanza had a seven-run first inning, highlighted by designated hitter Eric Cox's three-run homer. Esperanza had eight hits in the first inning before La Quinta pitcher James Marquez came in to retire the Aztecs.
In three innings of work, Marquez allowed just three hits and one run. Meanwhile, La Quinta was chipping away at the Esperanza lead, scoring four in the second, two in the fifth, one in the sixth and one in the seventh to tie the game.
In the Redondo-Palos Verdes tournament:
Loara 11, Palos Verdes 4--The Saxons (7-3) scored six runs in the fifth inning to win this game in the losers' bracket.
The inning was highlighted by Joe Ferrentio stealing second, third and home.