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CHRIS FOSTER

Never Too Early to Celebrate?

June 04, 1996|Chris Foster

Bobby Alcaraz, La Puente Bishop Amat second baseman, smacked a third-inning triple to drive in the first two runs of the Southern Section Division I championship game Saturday. After sliding headfirst into third, Alcaraz jumped up, waved his arms, and repeatedly jabbed his index finger in the air. The only thing missing was pompoms.

It might have been a premature celebration as well as an immature one. But the Lancers rallied from two runs down to beat two-time defending champion Fountain Valley, 10-9.

Thus begins another, strange, day at the ballpark:

* Baron Coach Ron La Ruffa wasn't going to wallow in the defeat.

"The sun will come up tomorrow," were the first words out of La Ruffa's mouth.

Of course, La Ruffa didn't exactly kick back and catch a few rays during the game. In fact, in the fourth inning he nearly made it all the way onto the field when his team failed to execute a run-down properly. La Ruffa moved so quickly, he nearly could have made the play himself.

* Only one real loser for the Barons. That would be the one fan engaged in slightly racist rhetoric much of the day, directing not-so-subtle, nor so-clever, remarks toward Bishop Amat starting pitcher Eric Valenzuela.

A mind truly is a terrible thing to waste.

* Mike Najera, Canyon coach, had a no-math policy during the playoffs. He refused to add up how many consecutive games the Comanches had won until after beating Upland, 5-1, in the Division II title game.

Ah, but Najera's worries weren't limited to numbers. He will stabilize property values in his neighborhood this week by ending his moratorium on washing his truck.

Thank goodness he showered two months ago, the day the 14-game streak began.

* Hi Lavalle has worn many hats for the Comanches over the years, most of them soiled, wrinkled and downright decrepit. But there he was Saturday wearing a relatively new, fairly clean white cap.

Lavalle, Canyon's coach for 19 years, returned to the varsity this season to help out with the pitchers. But he was forbidden, thankfully, from wearing any of those so-called caps from his past. "I think my wife burned them," Lavalle said. "Besides, it is Mike's team, I have to do what he says."

Lavalle got off easy. He was allowed to wash his car.

* One pitcher who didn't need much help, from Lavalle or anyone else, was Jeff Leuenberger, who tossed a two-hitter to beat Upland.

Leuenberger, only a junior, already has 22 career victories, six more than the school record. He was so dominating Saturday that pitching coach Scott Wolf made only one trip to the mound.

"Actually, Jeff always knows what I'm going to say before I even get out there," Wolf said. "So we just stand there and wait for the other team's momentum to die."

Upland had little of that going. Leuenberger went 3-0 to only three batters and got all three out. Those were the only things resembling a rally for Upland.

* The Long Beach Riptide, an independent minor league team, plays its home games at Blair Field. Yet the Riptide faced a 2:45 p.m. "curfew" for its noon game on Saturday. Boy, you're really a big-time operation when you get bumped off your home field by some high school kids.

Then again, could the Riptide even beat high school kids?

* Final thoughts. Let's see, Dana Hills' officials lured Bob Canary back to coach baseball. They handed the basketball team to Mark Thornton, a Dolphin lower-level coach in the 1970s. Do they now beg and plead Saddleback football Coach Bill Cunerty to return to his roots?

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