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BASEBALL : Intestinal Surgery Benches Canyons' Mohney as Team Faces Rigorous Conference Schedule

March 26, 1987

College of the Canyons baseball Coach Len Mohney, who missed four games earlier this season because of diverticulosis, will be sidelined for two weeks after surgery Tuesday to remove a section of his large intestine.

Mohney's absence comes during a critical week for Canyons. The Cougars will have played six Western State Conference games by the end of the week. Canyons played at Bakersfield on Tuesday, and will play host to Pierce today, travel to Santa Barbara for a doubleheader Friday, then play host to Hancock in another doubleheader Saturday.

That means Canyons (11-3, 7-0) will have its touted pitching staff tested. The Cougar staff is considered the best in the conference and one of the deepest in the state.

Makeup: Canyons' doubleheader at Santa Barbara originally was scheduled for last Saturday but was postponed because of rain. Also, Moorpark will make up a rained-out doubleheader at Hancock on Friday.

Home run threat: Cal State Northridge will get a look at the nation's No. 1 home run hitter Friday when the Matadors play at UCLA at 2:30 p.m. Torey Lovullo, who played at Van Nuys' Montclair Prep, leads the nation with 14 homers. He broke the Bruins' career home run mark (39) last week.

Lovullo has 41, 14 in his past 29 games. UCLA (21-9-1) is ranked No. 6 in the country.

Ups and downs: Cal Lutheran's baseball season has provided moments of surprise and hours of mediocrity. The Kingsmen (7-11) have piled up losses to such weak teams as Lewis and Clark College of Oregon, which beat CLU, 14-12, Tuesday. The day before, the Kingsmen swept Golden State Athletic Conference leader Southern Cal College, 4-2 and 6-3.

The poll people: Canyons is ranked No. 6 in this week's Southland poll, a notch higher than last week. Canyons is ranked behind Fullerton, which has beaten No. 1 Cerritos twice. L.A. Harbor, which is ranked No. 2, lost its first conference game, 8-3, to San Bernardino Valley on Tuesday, leaving Canyons (7-0) and Rancho Santiago (3-0) as the Southland's only unbeaten teams in conference. Last season, Canyons beat Rancho Santiago for the state championship.

Little big men: They haven't earned any cute nicknames like "the Smurfs" yet, but Northridge outfielders Jim Vatcher and Lenn Gilmore, the top two hitters in the batting order, are proving you don't have to be big to hit for power. Especially at the Matadors' home field.

Gilmore (5-10, 175) hit two home runs in a 15-14 win over Chapman at CSUN on Tuesday, giving him five for the season. Vatcher (5-8, 166) also has five.

John Balfanz (6-2, 195), the cleanup hitter, leads the team with six.

Cina leaves team: Randy Cina, the top pitcher for the semipro Valley Dodgers last summer, has quit the Northridge baseball team, Coach Terry Craven said.

Cina, who helped the Dodgers to a seventh-place finish in the National Baseball Congress Tournament, had pitched only one inning for the Matadors this season.

Number crunching: Dan Penner and Jeremy Hernandez started the week as the CCAA's top two strikeout pitchers. Penner has 49 and Hernandez has 42 after the latter struck out five Chapman batters Tuesday.

Hernandez, who had his fastball clocked at 91 m.p.h. while striking out 10 in his previous outing against Cal State Dominguez Hills, struck out the side in the first inning against Chapman but struggled the rest of the way, giving up eight earned runs in 7 innings.

He was replaced by John LaRosa, who started the week with a conference-best 1.31 earned-run average. It's a safe bet LaRosa isn't the CCAA leader anymore. After striking out John Morin on three pitches to end the eighth, he was shelled for four singles and a two-run homer in the ninth.

LaRosa was replaced by Robert Wheatcroft with two out and a runner on. Wheatcroft's third pitch was hit for a two-run homer. LaRosa was charged with five earned runs in one inning of work.

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