The baseball season has ended, somewhat prematurely by some counts, for Loyola Marymount University and Cal State Dominguez Hills, and it is essentially over for Harbor College.
While both four-year schools had something to smile about at the end of their schedules, Harbor will not win the Metropolitan Conference title and will not be able to defend its state title.
Here's how the curtain rings down:
Loyola--The Lions lost their season-ending double-header Sunday that stopped a six-game winning streak and could have put them in a position to finish second in the West Coast Athletic Conference, but they still have a shot at third depending on today's games between Santa Clara and league champion Pepperdine.
Loyola finished 12-12 in the league, 27-28 overall, and could return much of its lineup, depending on next month's pro draft.
Most draftable underclassmen are junior right fielder Billy Bean, who batted .403 and tied a school record with 67 runs batted in, and junior right-hander Tim Layana, who probably pitched better than his 7-8 record. The loss of those two would leave holes, particularly to a pitching corps that Coach Dave Snow admits needs help. How much help? Food stamps, welfare checks, congressional aid and Joan Collins warming up in the bullpen might be a start.
"We need a quick fix on the mound" is how Snow describes it.
If Bean stays, the biggest hole in the lineup is left by leadoff man Reggie Lambert, who batted a school record .410 and led the Lions in stolen bases. "He just had a great year," Snow said. "He was a bona-fide college leadoff hitter."
Whether Bean stays or turns pro, the middle of the lineup is entirely left-handed, with Bean, sophomore catcher Jim McAnany and freshman standout Chris Donnels, who tied for the team lead with eight home runs apiece. Donnels got 31 hits in his last 62 at-bats and finished at .389 with 8 home runs and 59 RBIs. Snow called him "as good a young hitter as I've been around--his ability as a freshman to establish himself and put up the numbers he did was impressive."
So Snow is in the market for some right-handed power as well as a leadoff man.
He has signed two players he considers blue chips who were also recruited by "more established" baseball schools--Robert DeJardin from Mater Dei High and Jim Bruske from Antelope Valley Junior College.
Snow said he is encouraged by the caliber of players showing interest in Loyola. "I'm still in the hunt for outstanding pitchers. I've been pretty pleased . . . in the type of player we've been able to attract. It's indicative that people don't just hope but expect us to be successful. That's the type of encouragement I'm looking for."
Snow points to several positive signs after his first season, despite an 0-6 start and a 1-5 mark after six conference games. "I think we made some strides. We set the tempo for the future at stages of the season, though at other stages we struggled.
"The way we started, I'm pleased we didn't give in. The players stayed with each other and stayed with themselves and finished with respectability. The important issue now is for the players to feel good about themselves and the direction the program is going."
Dominguez Hills--As far as the Toros are concerned, the season ended early despite their terrific stretch run in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. race. They won their last four games and six out of seven to edge Cal State Northridge for second place behind Cal Poly Pomona. The Toros also earned national ranking for the first time, climbing as high as No. 5.
However, for the first time in 13 years, the NCAA didn't invite the conference's second-place team to the Division II playoffs, opting for Cal State Sacramento. So the Toros have nothing to show for their 20-10 record in the CCAA beyond satisfaction.
"After you work long and hard and the guys go through so much adversity and injuries and still do what they have to do, it's disappointing," said Coach Andy Lopez. "Here we are sandwiched between the 1984 national champion (Northridge) and the 1983 (Pomona). It's real discouraging for us not to be invited."
The Toros set a slew of team batting records and had several conference leaders. Junior left-hander Jim Pena led in complete games (7), shutouts (3) and strikeouts (89), was among earned-run average leaders at 3.33 and finished at 10-3. Relief ace Richard Strong led the CCAA in saves with nine. Leadoff man Mike Brocki, a junior, led in runs (69) and stolen bases (39) and had an on-base percentage of nearly .450. Kevin Whalen led the team in batting at .358.
Pena is a potential draftee next month but indicated to Lopez that he will return unless he gets a lucrative offer.
Through injuries and illness, the Toros lost some of their best pitchers. Jim Copley, who ranked with Pena at the start of the season, didn't pitch at all and Jeff Hines didn't get a conference victory after hurting his shoulder. At one point Lopez had to use center fielder Mike Strong on the mound.