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It's Time to Play Ball : El Dorado Makes Big Pitch for No. 1 Ranking in County

March 12, 1986|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | Times Staff Writer

You can't compare the Dodgers' pitching staff with El Dorado High School's, but Steve Gullotti, Golden Hawk baseball coach, believes seniors Jeff Petredes and Scott Holcomb will make as big a contribution to the Hawks as Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser, Jerry Reuss, Rick Honeycutt and Bob Welch make to the Dodgers.

"When they're on the mound, the whole team is confident it's going to win," Gullotti said. "Other teams don't hit the ball very hard, there isn't as much pressure on defense, and they're not letting guys on base.

"Like they say, pitching is the game. Look at the Dodgers. They spent $5 million on their pitching. It only cost me a couple of Cokes."

Many coaches believe the one-two pitching punch of Petredes, a hard-throwing right-hander, and Holcomb, a left-handed finesse pitcher, makes El Dorado Orange County's best team.

Petredes, a 6-foot 2-inch, 210-pounder, went 6-2 with a 0.84 earned run average and struck out 56 last season. This will be his third year on the varsity. Holcomb, a 6-1, 170-pounder, moved to Placentia from Missouri last April and went 2-2 during the Hawks' final eight games.

Gullotti hopes the pair will have the kind of impact Fountain Valley's Bob Sharpnack (a right-hander) and Don Snowden (a lefty) had last season, when they led the Barons to the Southern Section 4-A championship.

It usually takes at least two quality pitchers to win a Southern Section title, but Gullotti will need such pitching just to make the playoffs. The Empire League, with four teams in The Times' Top 10, will be one of the county's most competitive and talented leagues.

The Sunset League also will be one of the county's strongest and is represented by three teams in Top 10. Here's a closer look at The Times Top 10:

1. El Dorado: In addition to their two fine pitchers, the Golden Hawks return five other starters--three infielders and two outfielders--from a team that went 13-10 in 1985.

Brett Boone, who hit .345 last year and is the son of Angel catcher Bob Boone, is back at second base, Shawn Blankenship, who hit .320 last year, is the shortstop and Sean Shedlock, a junior, is the third baseman. Rob Sporrer and Jim Buck are the returning outfielders.

Steve Gill, a left-hander, is the team's No. 3 pitcher and will play center field when not pitching. With Petredes and Holcomb on the mound, Gill is likely to spend most of his time in the outfield.

Pitching is El Dorado's obvious strength, but the Golden Hawks also will be good defensively and offensively. And Gullotti likes the mental attitude of this team.

"They didn't make the playoffs last year, and a lot of them haven't been as successful in high school as they want to be," he said. "They're hungry."

El Dorado is 6-1 this season and has advanced to the final of the 32-team Loara tournament against Loara.

2. Ocean View: The Seahawks have several players returning from last season's 21-8 team, which won the Sunset League and reached the 4-A semifinals, and they'll be bolstered by many players who competed on Coach Bill Gibbons' Colt (15- and 16-year old) All-Star team, which won the Colt World Series at Lafayette, Ind. last summer.

The most notable addition is David Holdridge, a junior who was the ace of the Colt team staff and is off to an excellent start this year. In 11 innings, the hard-throwing right-hander has not allowed a run and has struck out 18. He also is Ocean View's No. 3 hitter and will be the designated hitter when not pitching.

Other players from the Colt team who are starting for the Seahawks are shortstop Mike Fyhre, second baseman Jim Van Patton, third baseman David Lenhardt and first baseman/pitcher Brent Knackert.

"The seniors accept this group as being legitimate, quality players," Gibbons said. "They have no doubts whether they belong or not. It's been a very healthy, competitive arrangement."

Ocean View also returns pitchers Brett Johnson and Craig Anderson, outfielders Phil Chess and Mike Abascal, and catcher Blaine DeBrouwer. The Seahawks are 3-1 this season.

3. Mission Viejo: Orange County Player of the Year Bob Brucato, who had a 12-0 pitching record and hit .437 with 5 home runs and 35 RBIs, has graduated, but the Diablos return eight starters, including their entire infield, from a team that went 20-8 and lost to Diamond Bar, 3-2, in the 1985 2-A championship game.

Catcher Don Roberson, first baseman Robert D'Marino, second baseman Bob Doran, shortstop David Hori and third baseman Mark Preston are back, as are pitchers Kyle Abbott and Phil Houston.

But the ace of the staff is junior right-hander Jack Bailey, a transfer from Westminster, who has allowed just three earned runs in 12 innings this season and has struck out 17 for the Diablos (3-1).

Offensively, Doran, who batted .364 last year, is the team's No. 3 hitter, but Mission Viejo is not considered a power-hitting team. There are no weak spots in the lineup, however.

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