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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

There's No Doubting Savage

High school baseball: Cut last season, third baseman hits two home runs to lift El Camino Real.

March 11, 2000|MIKE BRESNAHAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WOODLAND HILLS — Beau Savage remembers the disappointment well.

He was told last year during one of the first practices that he wasn't needed. His skills weren't good enough to play varsity baseball at El Camino Real High.

He decided against joining the junior varsity and skipped the season entirely.

But he tried out again this season, made the team and is having an impact.

Savage hit two home runs and had five runs batted in, propelling El Camino Real to a 16-6 victory over Highland in a San Fernando Valley tournament game Friday at El Camino Real.

The game was halted in the fifth inning because of the 10-run rule.

Savage hit a three-run home run in the first inning and a two-run shot in the third, leading a parade of El Camino Real hitters that ruined Highland's afternoon.

Conor Jackson had a single, a double and a two-run home run. Mike Leduc hit a two-run home run. Casey Caplan had a key two-run single to spark a six-run third inning.

The story, though, was Savage.

He was strictly a pitcher last season, becoming the odd man out on a team stocked with strong arms.

But with help from his father, Steve, he worked on hitting and infield defense during his year off. He has found a home at third base.

"My dad wouldn't let me give up," Savage said. "My hitting, fielding and pitching had to get up to the caliber here on varsity.

"They had their pitchers and I wasn't really a fielder at the time. I didn't let it ruin me."

Said El Camino Real Coach Bob Ganssle: "Last year we had a very strong team. We could only fit so many people on the team.

"In Beau's situation, we never had any doubt he was a solid player."

Highland knows too.

The Bulldogs made the 75-mile trip for the second time this week--Tuesday's game was rained out--but received no sympathy from El Camino Real.

The Conquistadores (3-1), ranked No. 2 in the region by The Times, pounded out 11 hits, including four home runs and two doubles.

They chased starter Tom Gonzales after only 2 1/3 innings, touching him for eight runs, seven earned, and six hits.

"We made a truckload of pitching mistakes today," said Coach Mike Van Cheri, who defended Gonzales.

"That's an aberration. That's not his game out there. He had a hard time keeping the ball down . . . as did everyone I threw out there."

Highland (3-1), ranked No. 3 in the region, trailed, 4-2, on Savage's first home run but rebounded with a four-run second inning highlighted by Daniel Champieux's two-run single.

El Camino Real, however, did not allow another run, completing an about-face from a miserable two-hit performance in a 6-2 tournament loss to Valencia on Thursday.

Greg Acheatel (2-1), a 6-foot-4 sophomore, picked up the win in relief of Nick Gomez.

"Everybody was kind of sitting around, not doing anything [against Valencia]," Jackson said. "A prestigious team like Highland fires us up. To put on a show like we did feels pretty good."

Especially if your last name is Savage.

* Roundup of high school baseball games in the region. Page 12

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