If anything, the Edison and Valencia high school baseball teams were able to maintain some momentum Saturday when they met in a nonleague doubleheader, which served as a tuneup for the teams' returns to league play this week.
For Charger Coach Ron LaRuffa, that's good. Edison swept Valencia, 10-6 and 7-2, on the Chargers' field at Huntington Beach to run its winning streak to five and improve its record to 13-4.
For Tiger Coach Kevin McConnell, well, maybe these remarks will give you an idea:
"We're not playing well," he said. "We're not hitting well, we're not pitching well, we're not doing anything well. And I don't have any answers, either."
These are teams heading in opposite directions. And fast.
Both were ranked among Orange County's top five teams at the beginning of the season, but both have since dropped out of the Sportswriters Assn. poll.
The Chargers, however, appear ready to crack the Top 10 again, while the Tigers aren't even close. Valencia, which began the season with six straight wins, has lost five of its last six games and is 7-5.
"We have to change our mental approach to the game," McConnell said. "We're playing just hard enough to get beat. We're doing things counterproductive to winning, and if this doesn't change in the next week, we're gonna be in for a long month."
For starters, the Tigers must become more aggressive at the plate. Valencia had just four hits in the second game, as the first four batters in the lineup went a combined 0 for 9.
Valencia did manage eight hits in the first game, but four of them came during a five-run, seventh inning, which turned a blowout (Edison had a 10-1 lead)into a respectable score. That was the only time the Tigers were able to score more than one run in an inning.
"Everyone just stopped hitting--it's nothing other than that," said Valencia shortstop Jim Campanis, simplifying the Tigers' dilemma. "It seemed as if everyone went into a slump at the same time, during the Savanna game (a 4-3 loss on March 20). Since then, everything has gone downhill."
Campanis, who hit better than .400 in his sophomore and junior seasons, is also struggling. He went 1 for 7 on Saturday and is batting .230 in Orange League play. He had made one error in 10 previous game but misplayed two grounders in the opener.
"It's just a lack of concentration," he said.
About the only bright spots for Valencia on Saturday were junior right fielder Andy Ruscitto, who homered in the first game to bring his county-leading total to eight, and Troy Barnhart and Jon Rice, who each had two hits in the first game.
The Tigers used five pitchers on the day, but only their last, Tim Churchill, was effective. The right-hander pitched the final 3 innings of the nightcap, allowing just one run and three hits.
Edison, on the other hand, played near-perfect baseball. The Chargers had 17 hits in the doubleheader, did not make an error and received solid pitching performances from four of five pitchers.
Junior right-hander Ken Hokuf got the win and the save in the first game. He left after allowing one run and four hits in six innings but returned when reliever Mike Tungstall ran into trouble in the seventh.
Tungstall was roughed up for four runs on three Valencia hits, and Campanis greeted Hokuf with an RBI double. Two walks loaded the bases and Jeff Martinez's fielder's choice scored the sixth run. But Hokuf got Scott Sittig on a grounder to second to end the game.
Bill Baird went four innings for the victory in the second game and received hitless relief from Jeff Kent and Chip Damato over the last three innings.
Ron Chock, a senior right fielder, homered twice in the first game and finished the day with five hits, four runs and three RBIs. Chock, who has been slowed by a back injury this year, is 9 for 9 in his past three games.
Damato had two hits in the first game, while Dave Solarzano and Greg Martin each had two RBIs. Chock and Pat Walker were the only Chargers with two hits in the nightcap, and Kent drove in two runs.
Edison rocked Campanis for three runs in the first inning of the second game, and then added three more in the second inning off Steve Street to build an early, 6-1 lead--one that the Tigers never threatened. The Chargers also used a five-run sixth inning to put the opener away.
"We were struggling early, but we've got our confidence back now," LaRuffa said. "There was a lot of pressure being ranked so high at the start of the season. We were afraid of losing, and we thought we had to go undefeated."