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College Baseball / Bob Cuomo : New Coach Hoping to Give Loyola a Lift

April 03, 1985|BOB CUOMO

The dictionary tells us that someone who has patience is steadfast despite opposition, difficulty or adversity.

That description would seem to fit Dave Snow, who has undertaken the difficult task of rebuilding Loyola Marymount's baseball program.

"It'll take time and patience, but I believe that with patience comes success," Snow said Saturday at Loyola's George C. Page Stadium while watching his team prepare to play a doubleheader against the University of San Diego.

Snow, 34, replaced Marv Wood, who was fired after coaching the Lions for 15 years. Snow inherited a team that finished with a 10-18 record last year and in seventh place in the eight-team Southern California Baseball Assn., 12 games behind champion Cal State Fullerton. The Lions' overall record was 23-38.

Loyola, now a member of the West Coast Athletic Conference, had an eight-year SCBA record of 89-129-1. Its best season was 1981, when it shared second place with Cal State Long Beach. The Lions haven't won a title since 1973, when they were in the old WCAC.

Snow is no stranger to difficult challenges. Before taking the Loyola job, he was the pitching coach at Cal State Fullerton. Last season he turned the weakest part of the team into what Fullerton Coach Augie Garrido said was its strength and the main reason the Titans won the NCAA title.

Snow was an assistant at Fullerton from 1973 to 1977, then coached at Valley College for five years and won four Metropolitan Conference titles and a State junior college championship. He returned to Fullerton in 1983.

His goals at Loyola are to have the team reach its potential while the players reach theirs.

"The biggest thing is to demonstrate consistent winning habits," he said. "We're trying to raise our expectations. We want them to expect to win when they take the field, not hope to win."

Snow, who thinks it will take at least two or three years to transform Loyola into a consistent winner, isn't exactly overjoyed with the club's progress, but said there are some positive signs.

"I'm not really pleased," he said. "You can't be 13 and 17 (Loyola's record before the doubleheader) and be pleased. But our run production has been pretty consistent. Our defense is a problem, but it's improving. We haven't been beating ourselves.

"I am pleased with some of our young players who've performed well, and with some of the returning players who have adapted to our way of doing things.

"As a team, we're not consistent. We play well in spurts. For this team to be successful, it has to overachieve, it has to strive to get better. You have to have patience.

"But I'm happy here. There's a lot of room for growth, a lot of room for improvement."

Snow was in favor of the off-season realignment that put Loyola back in the WCAC. "I think it was a good idea, especially the way the strength of the programs now lie," he said.

He said that teams such as Fullerton, Fresno State and UC Santa Barbara belong together because they are stronger. Loyola belongs in the WCAC with San Diego, Santa Clara and similar schools, he added.

Asked if he has any regrets about not being able to compete against Fullerton, in light of his long association with the Titans, Snow said: "No, not where our program is now. (But) in the future, yes, I'd like to play them."

Loyola has one of the leading college outfielders on the West Coast in Billy Bean. The junior right fielder helped the Lions sweep a three-game series from San Diego by going 7 for 11 and driving in six runs, three with a triple in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader.

Bean, who bats and throws left-handed, raised his average 23 points to .407 and now has 32 RBIs. In WCAC play he's hitting .429.

Bean played center field as a freshman and batted .311. He moved to left as a sophomore and hit .338 with 38 RBIs. This season, besides playing right, he's also been used as a pitcher. He beat Cal State Northridge, defending Division II champion, 7-1, allowing only five hits and one unearned run in seven innings.

Snow, naturally, is pleased with Bean's play. "He's very steady," Snow said. "Day in and day out, he does the job for us. He's a proven Division I outfielder."

Another bright spot for the Lions has been the play of freshman second baseman Chris Donnels, the 4-A co-player of the year from South Torrance High, where he batted .475 and set a Southern Section record with 56 runs batted in while leading the Spartans to the 4-A title.

Snow thinks so highly of Donnels that he uses him as the cleanup hitter, behind Bean. "He's a definite plus," Snow said. "Boy, can he swing the bat. He's had no problems adjusting to this level."

Although Donnels had a few problems solving San Diego's pitching--he went 1 for 11 in the series, and was 0 for 9 before getting a run-scoring single in the second game Saturday--he leads the team in home runs with five and in RBIs with 35, and has a .342 batting average.

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