The baseball coaches from Rancho Santiago and Cypress colleges are wondering how their teams will react when they resume play today in the Southern California Regional playoffs after a 13-day layoff.
Rancho Santiago (34-7), the top-seeded team in Southern California, plays host to Oxnard (26-13) at 3 p.m. Los Angeles Harbor (29-14) plays Palomar (27-11 at 11 a.m. in the other game at Rancho Santiago in the double-elimination regional.
Cypress (32-9) plays El Camino (29-14) at 11 a.m. and Cerritos (34-11) plays College of the Canyons (32-6) at 3 p.m. in the other double-elimination regional at Cerritos.
The winners of the regionals, which continue through Sunday, advance to the state tournament, May 27-29, at UC Irvine.
"I'm getting bored," said Don Sneddon, Rancho Santiago coach. "We're going through withdrawals over here. It seems like a distinct disadvantage to not play for such a long time."
Rancho Santiago, College of the Canyons, Los Angeles Harbor, Palomar, El Camino and Cypress received byes into the regionals. Oxnard and Cerritos were the winners of the eight-team wild-card round, which ended Saturday.
Rancho Santiago brings a powerful team into the tournament.
Bobby Hamelin had a state record 27 home runs and a state record 94 RBIs. Hamelin, a sophomore, hit .521 (75 for 144) with 14 doubles and 54 walks, scored 76 runs and had 10 stolen bases.
Rich Gonzales, the designated hitter who batted behind Hamelin, hit .460 (81 for 176) with 15 doubles and 54 RBIs. Mike Gonzales, a freshman second baseman who hit behind Rich Gonzales, hit .369 (58 for 157) with 10 home runs and 56 RBIs.
Rancho Santiago hit .371 as a team, with 121 doubles and 55 home runs, all school records.
Rancho Santiago also has a solid pitching staff led by David Tellers, a right-hander, and Willie Navarrette, a left-hander. Tellers was 10-1 with a 4.18 earned-run average. Navarrette was 9-0 with 3.74 ERA. Reliever Tim MacNeil was impressive with a 5-1 record and a 3.64 ERA.
Cypress finished a game behind Rancho Santiago in the Orange Empire race and also is eager to play.
"We want to look at somebody different," said Scott Pickler, Cypress coach. "We're healthy and well-rested and ready to play a real game. Now it's just a matter of seeing what two weeks off will do to us."
The rest has helped sophomore right-hander Benny Gonzales, who was 10-2, losing to Rancho Santiago twice. Gonzales had a 2.54 ERA over 113 innings. He was second in the conference in strikeouts with 88 and had 43 walks. Rich Lodding, a Cypress freshman right-hander and a high school teammate of Tellers, was 6-1 with 2 saves and a 2.47 ERA.
Tim Churchill, a sophomore first baseman, hit .413 and led Cypress with 8 home runs and 60 RBIs. Churchill had a school-record 34-game hitting streak earlier this season. Steve Gill hit .318 as the leadoff hitter but had 7 home runs and 22 stolen bases. Jason Friedman hit .395 with 47 hits and 8 strikeouts in 119 at-bats for Cypress.
Bobby Hamelin of Rancho Santiago was named Orange Empire Conference baseball player of the year by a vote of conference coaches.
Don Sneddon, who coached Rancho Santiago to its first conference championship since 1967, was named the coach of the year.
The first-team pitchers were Benny Gonzales of Cypress, Willie Navarrette and David Tellers of Rancho Santiago and Sam Colarusso of Orange Coast.
Ken Briggs of Cypress was the catcher. Tim Churchill was at first base, and Todd Patino and Albert Salgado of Citrus, Derek Dehdashtian of OCC and Mike Gonzales and Nick Santa Cruz of Rancho Santiago were picked as infielders. Jason Friedman of Cypress was the utility player and Rich Gonzales of Rancho Santiago was the designated hitter.
Steve Gill of Cypress, Jody Garcia of Citrus and Kraig Washington and Todd Lloyd of Rancho Santiago were the outfielders.
James Buccheri of Golden West and Colin Franker of El Camino were named the co-most valuable players in the South Coast Conference. Buccheri hit .418 and set school records for stolen bases with 46, runs scored with 60 and hits with 71. Franker, a first baseman, hit .447 for conference champion El Camino.
Mark Chiadez of El Camino, Jimmy Griego of Cerritos, Tom Thobe of Golden West and Mark Kiefer of Fullerton were the first-team pitchers. Glenn Raasch of Mt. San Antonio was the catcher. Rodney Klopfer of Fullerton was the first baseman and Brian Gregbeck of Cerritos, Shawn Blankenship and Deryk Hudson of Fullerton, Joe Aversa and Adrian Rodriguez of El Camino were the infielders. Craig Paquette of Golden West, Darrell Sherman of Cerritos, Doug Twitty of Mt. San Antonio and Emmitt Cohick of Fullerton were the outfielders. Lash Bailey of Long Beach was the designated hitter and Junior Pro of Mt. SAC was the utility player.
Saddleback and Fullerton both open in the state community college double-elimination softball tournament Friday at Sacramento. Fullerton plays Taft at noon and Sacramento City plays San Diego Mesa also at noon. The winners will play at 6 p.m.
Saddleback plays San Joaquin Delta at 2 p.m. and Palomar plays San Mateo at 2 p.m. The winners play at 8 p.m.
Community College Notes
Emmitt Cohick of Fullerton College signed a national letter of intent to attend Illinois last week. Cohick, an outfielder, was also considering Arizona State. Cohick, a 1986 graduate of Esperanza High School, was drafted by Seattle last season . . . Jeannine Battaglia and Kim Takayama, the starting backcourt for the Golden West women's basketball team, have signed national letters of intent to attend Chapman next fall . . . Jane Utu, a forward for Golden West, signed to attend Cal State Dominguez Hills . . . Kim Gray, an outside hitter of the Golden West volleyball team, signed to attend the University of San Francisco.