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Cirillo's Summer Conjures World Series Memories

August 28, 1986|DARRYL MAXIE

Forget Jeff Cirillo's winless performances on the mound in this month's Colt World Series in Lafayette, Ind. Forget that his Encino 15- and 16-year-old teammates didn't win the big game.

What remains is a memorable summer for Cirillo and his teammates.

After being kicked off the Van Nuys American Legion team in June because he was ineligible to play--which resulted in the team forfeiting four wins--Cirillo moved to the Colt League and showed the skills that made him the Southern Section Small Schools Division Player of the Year in 1986.

Cirillo hit three triples--a World Series record--in the tournament, which Encino lost in the final game to Puerto Rico, 2-0. He helped his team get to that game with seven runs batted in on two triples and a single as Encino beat Marietta, Ga., 12-7. The seven RBIs broke a tournament record that had stood for 33 years.

"I was really relaxed at the plate and I was ready to play, I guess," Cirillo said.

Cirillo holds no bitter feelings after the American Legion ruled him ineligible to play. He knew he was on shaky ground. Legion rules specify that a player must play with the team in his residential area or, if none is available, with a team that recruits from his high school. Cirillo, who would have been eligible to play for Burbank or North Hollywood, was on the wrong team, according to Legion rules.

"I knew there would be speculation on my being eligible the whole time," he said. "I knew there might be a question because my coach told me."

Cirillo had planned to play in the Colt League anyway. When the team went further than he had dreamed, it was a bonus.

"Just making it there was enough for me," he said.

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