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BASEBALL / BEN BOLCH

Early Season Upsets Aren't Surprising

March 14, 2000|BEN BOLCH

The Orange County preseason baseball rankings were shaken and stirred during a compelling opening week.

Top-ranked Fountain Valley lost its opener and second-ranked Mater Dei dropped two games, while unranked La Quinta and University came through with big showings.

Time for the Barons and Monarchs to panic?

Time for the Aztecs and Trojans to clear room in the display case for Southern Section championship trophies?

No way. Baseball is always characterized by disappointments and surprises, especially early in the season.

"Preseason rankings don't mean much," observed Villa Park ace Brandon Averill. "A lot of teams get upset."

Mater Dei fell the farthest and the hardest with two losses in the Foothill tournament before rallying to defeat Woodbridge in the third-place game.

Fountain Valley lost to University in the first round of the Loara tournament, though the Trojans showed they were no fluke with subsequent victories over No. 9 Cypress and No. 6 Santa Margarita to take fifth place.

"University is a very good program with some very good players," said Villa Park Coach Tom Tereschuk, whose No. 5 Spartans defeated University, 6-1, en route to winning the Loara title.

As impressive as Villa Park's achievements were, La Quinta looked like the team to beat after winning the North Orange County tournament. The freshmen-laden Aztecs defeated powers Temecula Valley and Riverside Poly during their title run.

MAJOR LOSSES

Cypress suffered a devastating blow recently when the Centurions learned ace Travis Ingle--one of the top professional prospects in Orange County--would be lost for the season with ligament damage in his right (throwing) shoulder.

On Thursday, Ingle underwent a successful surgery in which doctors found less damage than previously expected. But the senior most likely won't throw another pitch until summer.

Cal State Fullerton will honor Ingle's scholarship regardless of whether he can play, Cypress Coach Mark Steinert said.

Meanwhile, Garden Grove pitcher/first baseman Matt Crippen is out for up to six weeks after breaking his left wrist in two places in a game against Century last week.

Crippen was chasing an errant throw down the first-base line when a Centurion baserunner collided with him, snapping the second-year starter's wrist.

THE BIG ERASER

Foothill didn't need exquisite pitching to get out of a jam against Calvary Chapel last week. All the Knights needed was some heads-up play from first baseman Matt Meadows during a triple play.

With runners on second and third, Calvary Chapel attempted a squeeze, but the plan backfired. Meadows, who was charging home plate in anticipation of a bunt, caught a short popup for the first out.

He sprinted toward home plate to tag out the runner coming from third. Meadows completed the triple play by spinning and firing the ball to second base, to catch another runner, who broke from the base on the play.

LOOKING AHEAD

Mater Dei faces Riverside Poly at 3:30 this afternoon in an intriguing doubleheader at Cal State Fullerton.

Los Alamitos plays at Esperanza at 3:15 p.m. Friday in both teams' Sunset League opener.

Fountain Valley meets Brea Olinda in a Saturday doubleheader that could shape up as a pitcher's duel.

If you have an item or idea for the prep baseball report, you can fax us at (714) 966-5663 or e-mail us at ben.bolch@latimes.com

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