The La Puente Bishop Amat high baseball team is enjoying its finest season in school history with a 21-0 record.
With two weeks left in the regular season, the Lancers have clinched the Del Rey League title and a berth in the Southern Section playoffs.
But Coach Glenn Martinez said he is both happy with and embarrassed by his team's accomplishments. He said the record might be more meaningful if the school were competing in Division 5-A, made up of the section's largest schools.
During realignment last year, Bishop Amat moved from the now-defunct Angelus League to the Del Rey League. Many of the league's seven parochial schools have declining enrollments, so the Lancers were dropped to Division 3-A.
Bishop Amat, which has 1,750 students, had a 22-6 record last season, losing to Long Beach Millikan in the 5-A semifinals. Martinez said this year's team could do just as well.
"To be honest, our league is not as strong as we're used to," he said. "You notice a big difference, dropping down two divisions. It's not to take anything away from our competitors, but I think we should be in a higher division."
Martinez, in his sixth year as head coach, said he knew the school was going to be changing leagues last year but did not learn about the division change until the schedule came out. He said it was an administrative decision not to appeal the placement.
"I really didn't have any word in the matter," he said.
Instead of playing larger parochial schools such as Encino Crespi, Loyola and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, the Lancers are facing such foes as Long Beach St. Anthony and Rosemead Bosco Tech. They defeated La Canada St. Francis last Friday night, 25-5.
Although Martinez hopes Bishop Amat returns to 5-A in the near future, he knows the 3-A playoffs will be competitive with teams such as Irvine, Irvine Woodbridge and El Segundo.
The Lancers are led by three senior starters, pitchers Jesus Peinado and Eddie Hernandez and catcher Andy Reitz. Peinado and Hernandez have a combined 17-0 record.
Designated hitter Trevor Woods, a wide receiver on the school's championship football team, worked his way into lineup at midseason and has made the most of it since, batting .718 with 23 hits in 32 at-bats.
Charles Gates, the top sprinter in the City, moved from Locke to Gardena last week after being granted an opportunity transfer.
Gates, a senior who won the 100-meter dash in the City meet last season, was suspended at Locke after becoming involved in an argument with campus security personnel last week.
"I got mad and said a few words I shouldn't have," Gates said.
Edward Robbs, Locke's principal, granted the transfer, allowing Gates to enroll at another district school. He was turned down by Washington before selecting Gardena.
He will compete in the 100 and 200 and on the 400- and 1,600-meter relays at Gardena. The Mohicans have not won a City title since 1975.
In his debut at the school last Friday, Gates won the 100 in 11.1 seconds and the 200 in 22.7 in an 81-48 dual-meet victory over Washington.
"I figured I'd be better off somewhere else," Gates said.
The Southern Section Council has unanimously voted against a proposal that would allow student-athletes to complete four years of eligibility in five years.
The proposal, if passed by the CIF Council later this week, would allow athletes to be redshirted in high school without losing any eligibility. It was authored by Paul Gaddini, North Coast Section commissioner, who said it could help improve the graduation rate, since many students don't finish their requirements in four years.
State regulations limit students to eight consecutive semesters of eligibility, beginning when they enroll in the ninth grade.
The Southern Section also rejected one proposal that would have allowed an inter-school scrimmage in football before the beginning of the regular season, and another from the Academy League that would have allowed 14-year-olds to compete in varsity football.
Dae Lea Aldrich, who guided the Manhattan Beach Mira Costa girls' volleyball team to eight Southern Section titles in 10 years, returns next season as the team's head coach after a one-year absence. . . . Alex Acosta, a former boys' basketball coach at Bishop Amat, is returning to the school after a one-year absence. Acosta was an assistant at Citrus College last season. . . . The City boys' volleyball playoffs begin today at 3 p.m. Granada Hills is the top-seeded team in Division 4-A and Marshall in 3-A. The finals are set for May 14.
Bryan Hill of Wilmington Banning, the City 3-A boys' basketball player of the year last season, signed a letter of intent with Pepperdine last week. Hill, a 6-foot-7 forward, averaged 15 points and 14 rebounds. . . . Jeff Suppan threw the second no-hitter of his prep career last Wednesday in leading Encino Crespi to a 6-0 victory over Studio City Harvard-Westlake. Suppan, headed for UCLA, threw his first no-hitter against Torrance as a freshman in 1990.
Times' Top 20 Baseball Poll
The Times' top 20 high school baseball poll, with teams from the City and Southern sections.
School Sect. Div. Rec. LW 1. Simi Valley SS I 20-2 1 2. Bishop Amat SS III 21-0 2 3. Crespi SS I 20-2 4 4. El Camino Real City 4-A 16-1 5 5. Diamond Bar SS I 18-2 3 6. Irvine SS III 17-6 6 7. Esperanza SS I 16-5 7 8. GH Kennedy City 4-A 19-2 8 9. Gahr SS II 20-4 14 10. Fountain Valley SS I 18-4 16 11. SO Notre Dame SS I 16-4 13 12. Mater Dei SS I 16-5 9 13. Millikan SS I 13-6 17 14. San Marino SS IV 17-1 15 15. Lakewood SS I 13-7 11 16. LB Wilson SS I 14-5 10 17. South Hills SS II 19-2 18 18. Riv. Poly SS II 17-4 NR 19. Peninsula SS I 15-5 NR 20. Crenshaw City 4-A 17-3 NR