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PREPS / ROB FERNAS

Mary Star Packs Plenty of Punch for Run at Title

August 05, 1993|ROB FERNAS

The Mary Star Connie Mack baseball team, featuring several South Bay community college and high school players, won the Southern California state tournament Tuesday night with a 13-6 victory over Glendale at Blair Field in Long Beach.

Mary Star (23-3-1) opens the eight-team Pacific regional tournament at 2 p.m. Friday against the Northern California champion at Rancho Santiago College in Santa Ana. The winner of the double-elimination tournament qualifies for the Connie Mack World Series, starting Aug. 13 at Farmington, N.M.

Started in 1967 by San Pedro businessman Paul Mantellino, Mary Star has advanced to three Connie Mack World Series, winning the title in its last appearance in 1987. Assistant Tim Ursich said this year's team has the same qualities as the 1987 club.

"The similarities are amazing," said Ursich, a San Pedro High graduate who played on the first Mary Star Connie Mack team. "The kids have a goal in mind. They're very aggressive and very dedicated. From top to bottom, it's really an impressive group."

Three area players contributed in Tuesday's victory over Glendale. Left fielder Darren Nicholson (Harbor College, West Torrance High) had two hits and threw out a runner at second base, second baseman Jim Zambarelli (El Segundo) also had two hits, and pitcher Tim Newville (Harbor, Bishop Montgomery) did a good job in relief, Ursich said.

Other area players on Mary Star are outfielder Brett Campbell (Peninsula), pitcher Mike Miller (Harbor), catcher-infielder Tim Harper (San Pedro) and infielder Derek Nicholson (West Torrance), The Times' South Bay player of the year last season as a junior.

The team also boasts several touted players from outside the area who are headed to four-year colleges. They include designated hitter Brian Ponchak (Fountain Valley, USC), outfielder-pitcher Mark Kotsay (Santa Fe, Cal State Fullerton) and catcher Casey Snow (Crespi, Cal State Long Beach). Ponchak had four runs batted in Tuesday, Ursich said.

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The 1987 Mary Star team that won the Connie Mack World Series featured Brett Boone, a former USC standout who now plays second base for the Seattle Mariners, as well as pitcher-infielder Scott Davison, a two-time South Bay player of the year at Redondo High.

That year, Mary Star defeated Cincinnati in the World Series final. Cincinnati's roster included Ken Griffey Jr. and Mark Lewis, now a shortstop with the Cleveland Indians.

Ursich remembers that people in Farmington, N.M., the host city, were curious what Mary Star, a Catholic parish in San Pedro, represented.

"We said we were an altar boy group from the Catholic school in town," Ursich said.

Although Mary Star started out as a San Pedro-area team, it has drawn standout players from across Southern California for many years.

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West's Derek Nicholson and Peninsula pitchers Brian Bowles and Arin McCarthy have been selected to play in the major league-sponsored Area Code Games starting Aug. 18 at San Diego State. The three area seniors will play for the 310/213 team, sponsored by the Angels and coached by Otha Evans of Crenshaw High.

The team will also include Beverly Hills catcher Jeremy Booth, the Ocean League most valuable player last season.

The Area Code Games feature returning high school players. The competition attracts a large number of major league scouts and college recruiters.

"For exposure, it is absolutely the single-most important thing a kid can do," Peninsula Coach Garry Poe said. "When a kid takes the mound, 60 or 70 (radar) guns go up. It looks like a firing squad."

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Three of Carson High's top defensive players last season--lineman Lomitusi Fa'avae and linebackers Chris Vaimili and Don Moala--will attend Santa Monica College after being recruited by assistant Rowen Tupuivao, a Carson graduate.

This is Tupuivao's third year at Santa Monica. Before that, he coached under John Featherstone at El Camino for four seasons and helped the Warriors recruit Carson players.

"I wish I could hire him back," Featherstone said, "but we don't have any (full-time) openings."

El Camino also lost three All-South Bay players from South Torrance. Kicker Steve Finley will attend Saddleback College, and linebackers Doug Dossey and Josh Waybright plan to attend school in Northern California at Butte College and College of the Redwoods, respectively.

All three had been working out at El Camino but expressed a desire to leave the area, Featherstone said.

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Having lost nine defensive starters from last season, El Camino faces a rebuilding job in 1993. But Featherstone thinks a good crop of freshmen will help the Warriors avoid a down year.

On the defensive line, Featherstone is counting on Shawn Bard (Leuzinger), Quinn Taylor (Centennial), Mike Lavea (Paramount) and Troy McMahon, a transfer from the University of Texas, to make an impact.

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