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Valley / Ventura County Sports | AMERICAN LEGION NOTEBOOK

Walk Provides Off-Base End to All-Star Game

July 07, 1999| From Staff Reports

The final play of the American Legion District 20 All-Star game Monday quickly became a touchy subject.

Ryan Haag of Newhall-Saugus/Hart walked with two out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning to force in the winning run in the West's 10-9 victory over the East at Valley College.

But Haag never touched first base after walking on a full-count pitch from Spencer Steward of Burbank-Burroughs.

As Haag was mobbed at the plate by West teammates, East Coach Jody Breeden of Van Nuys-Notre Dame mildly protested.

Haag could barely walk back to the dugout, much less to first base.

The second baseman had the nail of his left big toe torn off by a sliding Alec Moss while Haag turned an inning-ending double play in the ninth.

"I told him not to run [to first]," said West Coach Dave Toledo of Newhall-Saugus/Hart. "As loose as everything was, had the umpires made a big deal out of it, he would have ran."

Like Haag, Breeden failed to get to first base with the umpires, who were on their way off the field.

"I thought this was real baseball, with real baseball rules," Breeden said.

*

San Fernando coaches Armando Gomez and Roberto Reynoso have done more than work with their Legion team lately.

They returned Friday from a two-week trip to Honduras, where they imparted baseball tips to young players and managers as part of a summer coaching envoy program.

"It was a great experience, and we want to do it again," Reynoso said. "We genuinely felt like we helped baseball [in Honduras]."

Reynoso and Gomez were among U.S. coaches sent to teach and promote baseball in Latin America, Australia, Africa and Europe. Major League Baseball International sponsors the program.

Reynoso and Gomez, both of whom speak Spanish, worked with players ages 8-12 in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula in Honduras.

"It was challenging," Reynoso said. "We shared with them our ideas, and they loved it."

Reynoso said the players' shortcomings show at the youth level, and also among six professional teams in a league based in Tegucigalpa.

"I think it seemed like Chatsworth [High] could go down there and beat [the pros]," he said. "I think our San Fernando team could give them a run for their money."

*

Gomez and Reynoso enjoyed a rewarding trip, but their absence was felt by their Legion team.

San Fernando (12-6) is in second place in the District 20 North Valley Division, but because some paperwork was not submitted to District Chairman Larry Van Kuran before the coaches left for Honduras on June 18, the team will not be allowed to participate in the playoffs.

"I waited as long as I could," said Van Kuran, who was required to send rosters from area teams to state Legion officials by the end of June.

*

Van Nuys-Notre Dame (21-2) and Valley-Chatsworth (20-1) are the only teams to have clinched berths in the eight-team District 20 playoffs, which begin July 14.

Pairings for the district playoffs will be determined Tuesday night.

Area playoffs begin July 22 at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium.

*

The District 16 All-Star games will be played at Thousand Oaks High on Sunday. Rosters for the games were being decided late Tuesday night.

*

John Manuel started at shortstop for the East in the District 20 All-Star game despite not being an official member of any district team.

Manuel, who walked and was hit by a pitch, was a member of North Hollywood-Poly, which disbanded last week because of a lack of players.

"I couldn't deny him [a chance to play]," said Van Kuran. "He was one of the kids who was showing up for every game."

*

UCLA-bound pitcher Mike Kunes of Valley-Chatsworth, limited to only four innings this summer because of arm problems, pitched in the All-Star game and appeared in midseason form.

Kunes, The Times' Valley pitcher of the year, struck out Chris Dickerson, Larry Anguino and Jorge Flores in his only inning, one of only three pitchers to retire a side in order.

"I'm starting to get back into the groove," said Kunes, who also had a sacrifice fly for the West. "It's good timing, too. With our squad, pitching is everything."

*

Tony Sulser finished what he started Monday.

The Calabasas right-hander pitched the first inning for the West, then returned to the mound in the 10th, when the West ran out of arms. He allowed a run in the 10th, but earned the victory when the West scored twice in the bottom of the inning.

Sulser (6-2) wasn't even on the original all-star roster, but was added late last week after he hurled an 88-pitch no-hitter with 11 strikeouts against North Division champion Newhall-Saugus/Hart on Friday.

*

The biggest surprise of the All-Star game was the performance of Lancaster North outfielder Frank Rosada of the West.

Rosada was one for two, stole three bases and scored two runs.

"He's probably one of the best baserunners I've ever seen," Toledo said.

*

John Oller needs six RBIs to tie the Encino-Crespi record of 49, set by current Kansas City Royal pitcher Jeff Suppan.

Oller, who has 42 RBIs, won't have the luxury of nine extra playoff games, as Suppan did in 1992.

"He'll have to get it done this week," Coach Scott Muckey said. "He's having a career in one summer."

*

David Johnson, who missed most of his senior season at Agoura because of a back injury, is putting the hurt on opponents this summer for Agoura's Legion team.

The shortstop leads Agoura (13-5-1) with a .538 batting average, nine home runs and 35 RBIs.

"I said I was going to work hard and see what happens, and I just feel like I'm in a groove right now," Johnson said. "I think I strengthened a lot of muscles I didn't even know I could have used."

He plans to play next season at Northwood University, a Division II school in Midland, Mich.

Staff writers Dave Desmond and Lauren Peterson contributed to this notebook.

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