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Cerritos Is Armful for Canyons

May 08, 1997|FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ

Baseball people generally agree that pitching is the name of the game.

College of the Canyons could be reminded of that Friday and Saturday, when the Cougars (31-13) play host to Cerritos (29-12-3) in a Southern California Regional best-of-three first-round series.

The Cougars, Western State Conference Southern Division champions, will face a staff with a 2.67 earned-run average overall, 2.36 in South Coast Conference play.

Canyons' ERA in conference games?: 5.58.

The Cougars defeated Cerritos in two of three nonconference games and were able to compensate for their suspect pitching with the WSC's top run-producing offense but they appear dangerously short on arms for a series that calls for a possible doubleheader Saturday.

The Cougars' key starters, right-handers Kevin Hyde (5-2, 3.72 in WSC play) and Jim McNeel (4-1, 5.18), will come up against a lineup with a .316 batting average.

Cerritos counters with right-handers Mando Gonzalez (10-2, 2.63) and Mikie Garcia (5-2, 1.95), and left-handers Mike Martinez (5-1, 1.85) and Jose Vasquez (3-1, 2.53).

Canyons batted .368 with 38 home runs in the pitching-starved WSC, many at their hitter-friendly field, but the Falcons seem to have plenty of pitching depth.

*

The NAIA's new head man, Steve Baker, starts his second week on the job Monday by visiting Southern California to meet with members and perhaps persuade other schools to join the organization.

Word is that Baker, a former major league baseball player, wants to lure back former members, such as Cal Lutheran.

Bruce Bryde, director of athletics at Cal Lutheran, said he hadn't heard from Baker.

Cal Lutheran left the NAIA and became an NCAA Division III member in 1991.

"I would say that Cal Lutheran has an excellent fit within the NCAA Division III and the SCIAC [Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference]," Bryde said.

The NAIA has 362 member schools nationwide, 21 in California. At its peak in the mid-1970s, the organization had 560 member schools.

*

Some might question the decision of Oxnard baseball Coach Pat Woods to allow freshman left-hander Pat Colborn to go the distance in a 3-2, 15-inning loss to Hancock on Saturday in the regular-season finale.

Woods came up with a couple of reasons.

"He wanted to win the game," Woods said. "It showed some serious courage. He lives and eats Oxnard baseball. I asked him after the eighth, 'How do you feel?' He said he was fine. I asked him after the ninth and the 10th. He said he wanted to finish the thing."

Woods said he was disappointed with Oxnard's lackluster season. The Condors (19-21, 12-14 in the Western State Conference Northern Division) won the title in 1996.

"It was a point I had to make to my team," Woods said.

By the way, Colborn threw 202 pitches, by Hancock's count.

*

Pierce diver Motoki Wakabayashi should have raided the fridge every chance he got last week.

Wakabayashi, 5 feet 5 and about 130 pounds soaking wet, finished second to Modesto's Glen Simonds in the men's one- and three-meter events at the state championships Thursday and Friday at Hartnell College in Salinas.

"He didn't get as much spring out of the board as the heavier divers did and he ended up a little short on a few dives," said Fred Shaw, Pierce's coach.

Wakabayashi, a freshman from Japan, previously was unbeaten.

*

Two hard-to-imagine developments from the wacky world of Cal State Northridge athletics:

Neither the baseball nor softball team being invited to the NCAA tournament.

The softball Matadors (34-20-2, 21-11) damaged their chances by dropping a Big West Conference doubleheader to lowly Cal State Sacramento on Tuesday and handing over first place, and an automatic bid to the 32-team tournament, to Long Beach State.

Now they must wait until Sunday to see if the seeding committee feels generous.

The baseball Matadors (41-18-1), who last season came within one victory of the College World Series, could be one gopher ball or bad hop from staying home.

Northridge, which faces USC on Saturday and Sunday, and UCLA on Tuesday, probably needs to win two of the three games for an at-large berth.

Is bad karma contagious?

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