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Venice May Find Worst Foe in Itself

May 29, 1986|RAY RIPTON | Times Staff Writer

Jeff Shimizu, Venice High School baseball coach, hasn't seen Fremont, his team's first opponent in the 3-A City playoffs, but that doesn't bother him much.

Shimizu thinks the players who can keep his team from winning its third consecutive 3-A championship are wearing Venice uniforms.

The Gondoliers, an experienced team with strong hitting and pitching, won their third straight Western League title with a 12-3 record, and their 26-5 overall mark includes wins over Simi Valley, Collegiate Baseball magazine's No. 1 prep team, and Granada Hills, a 4-A City team that at one point was ranked sixth in the country by the same magazine.

So why should Shimizu be worried about Fremont, which finished fourth in the Southern League with a 6-9 record and which visits Venice at 3 p.m. Friday in a playoff opener?

He's not.

'Anything Can Happen'

"I hate to look at their (Fremont's) record," he said. "It's a new season now, and anything can happen. We've got to worry about ourselves.

"I'm not too worried about Fremont; we don't want to beat ourselves. If we go out and play with some intensity, then we're going to win the ballgame because we're a better team."

Venice is a strong favorite to repeat as City champion, partly because the Western League is considered much stronger than the City's other 3-A leagues (Southern, Northern, Eastern) and partly because it is a solid team, paced by veterans who have played in two previous title games at Dodger Stadium.

The Gondoliers landed seven players on the all-league first team selected by coaches, including the co-players of the year: senior pitcher Armando Gomez, 8-0 in league and 11-1 overall, and junior Chico Garcia, an outfielder, designated hitter and pitcher who batted .463 in league.

Strong Batters

Other all-leaguers from Venice are junior outfielder-third baseman Roger Serafin (.449), senior second baseman Will Galinato (.452), junior outfielder Ernie Soto (.340), senior catcher Bob Tomaselli (.385) and outfielder Richard Simpson (.417).

Hamilton, which did not make the playoffs, put three players on the All-Western League team: first baseman Mark Snanoudj, third baseman Brent Turley and utility player Chris Martin, all seniors.

The rest of the all-leaguers came from second-place University (9-6) and fourth-place Palisades (7-8), which lost to Venice in last year's City final. University plays host to Los Angeles (9-6 in the Southern League) at 3 p.m. today, and Palisades will be at Washington, the Southern titlist, at 3 p.m. Friday.

University all-stars are senior pitcher Charlie German, a transfer from Boston who pitched a no-hitter against Santa Monica Crossroads and finished the season with an 8-3 record, and senior shortstop Ross Rosenfeld (.372).

Hamilton Placed 3

Hamilton, which did not make the playoffs, put three players on the All-Western League team: first baseman Mark Snanoudj, third baseman Brent Turley and utility player Chris Martin, all seniors.

The only player from Palisades on the first team is senior catcher John Dolak, who hit two home runs against Venice in last year's title game. Dolak batted .450 in league this season.

Missing from the All-Western League team this year is Venice senior pitcher Dwayne Lortie, the winning pitcher in Venice's last two championship games.

Right-hander Lortie injured his pitching elbow early this year, wasn't used much and finished with a 3-2 overall record.

But Shimizu said that Lortie is "about 90%" of what he was before his injury and should see action if Venice continues along the playoff road.

He said that overconfidence won't keep his team from getting to Dodger Stadium again but that it could be hurt by a lack of intensity.

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