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The Untouchables : Baseball: Bell High's dominating pitching staff plans to keep the Eagles in contention for the City title.

March 13, 1994|CHARLES SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Baseball fans whose teams face Bell High School may want to get to the games early this year to watch batting prac tice. That's just about all the contact their school's hitters will be making on game day.

With pitchers Johnny Moreno, Yamel Delgado and Larry Gayton, who have a combined 0.83 earned-run average, this season looks to be a very good--but a very boring--one for the Eagles.

And that's just fine with Coach Henry Santiago.

"We probably have the best pitching staff in the area," he said. Moreno, Delgado and Gayton "take a lot of pressure off our hitters because we know that we don't need to score a lot of runs to win a game."

It will be up to players such as South Gate's Jose Montenegro, the Southeastern Conference Co-Player of the Year, and Roosevelt's Alex Rodriguez, a City Times second-team selection, to gather hits against Bell's talented trio.

Loyola's Wesley Rachels, Bell Gardens' Pedro Loza and South Gate's Alonso Lopez--all City Times first-teamers--return to fuel their teams' championship drives.

Here is a look at the top area teams:

Southeastern Conference

Bell (21-4, 12-4): City 3-A pitcher Moreno, who was 6-1 with a 0.50 ERA, Delgado (6-1, 0.90) and Gayton (6-1, 1.10) should keep the Eagles in every game. Newcomer Manuel Armendariz will be a welcome addition to the pitching staff. The offensive burden will be shared among hitters such as senior first baseman Valente Bertran, who hit .354 last season.

Fremont (9-15, 5-11): Senior pitcher Rinaldo Monterrosa, who was 3-3 last year with a 2.60 ERA, returns for the Pathfinders. Fremont's top newcomer is Joel Marquez, who hit .390 for the junior varsity team last season.

Garfield (8-12, 6-10): The Bulldogs' top returner will be junior outfielder Ramiro Cuevas, who hit .295 last season. Junior pitcher Byron Valencia, who was 2-2 with a 2.10 ERA last year, will see more action this season.

Huntington Park (23-8, 10-6): Talented senior Alex Orpeza will be one of the Southeastern Conference's marquee players. The third baseman hit .466 last season with two home runs and 20 RBIs. Pitcher Mario Arambula, who was 5-5 last season with a 2.10 ERA, will also platoon at first base.

Jefferson (11-11, 8-8): Senior pitcher Juan Arellano, who was 5-2 with a 3.0 ERA last season, will head the Bulldogs' staff. Junior Jose Solis, who hit .275 as a utility player last year, will start at catcher in '94.

Jordan (5-18, 3-13): Senior shortstop Benny Olivades led the Bulldogs last year with a .370 batting average. Olivades should get support from slugger Sergio Medrano, who hit .333 with five home runs at the center field spot.

Locke (4-12, 4-12): The Saints will be led by the bats of seniors Ronald Smith, who hit .484 with four home runs and 17 RBIs last season and Hector Chavez, who hit .485 with three home runs and 15 RBIs.

Roosevelt (19-4, 13-3): As usual, the Roughriders will feature a cast of heavy-hitters led by star catcher Alex Rodriguez, who hit .372 last season. Second baseman Juan Carlos Rodriguez, who hit .350, and junior center-fielder Chris Minter, who hit .400 for the junior varsity team, will give Rodriguez plenty of offensive support. As always, pitching is a question mark.

South Gate (26-5, 14-2): The defending City 3-A champs are an early favorite to return to the finals. Pitcher Alonso Lopez, a City 3-A first-team selection last season, was virtually unhittable with a 1.58 ERA and 11-0 record. Third baseman Jose Montenegro, who batted .444 with 34 RBIs, and first baseman Jesse Torres, who batted .427, are City 3-A first-teamers who will anchor a solid core of hitters.

Southern Pacific Conference

Crenshaw (26-5, 16-3): Last season's City 3-A runner-up should have little trouble repeating as Southern Pacific champ. Second baseman Mike McNeely, who hit .407 last year, and third baseman Mark Sarrea, who hit .356, will provide invaluable leadership for a talented crop of newcomers. The presence and talents of 16-game winner Mark Jones, who was named City 3-A most valuable player last year as a pitcher, will be missed.

Dorsey (0-17, 0-5): As the Dons embark on a new season, they hope to break a two-year winless streak. Senior Brandon Brown and junior Reginald Douglas look to help Dorsey turn things around.

Washington (10-11, 8-9): Junior Joseph George, who hit .418 last season, will split time between shortstop and third base this year. The Generals hit .312 as a team last season but their pitching staff will need to improve on their 4.07 team ERA.

Northern Conference

Lincoln (12-5, 6-3): The Tigers hit an impressive .320 as a team last season with sluggers such as shortstop Ceasar Castenada, who hit .360 with five home runs. Third baseman Lizado Erami, who hit .340 with 10 home runs last season, will also provide plenty of power.

Wilson (14-7, 9-6): Center fielder Dan Alarcon batted .344 last year and looks to be the Mules' top offensive threat this season. Pitcher Rene Herrera, who had 2.20 ERA while batting .401, will be Wilson's top returner.

Southern Section

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