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Barons' Hitters Pick Up the Slack

March 28, 2000|BEN BOLCH

It wasn't supposed to happen like this.

It was thought that Fountain Valley's cadre of fireballers would annihilate opposing batters, rarely giving up more than a run or two per game.

The third-ranked Barons (8-2) have done their share of annihilating, all right, but little thanks to the arms of six pitchers who can throw 85 mph.

It has been Fountain Valley's lively bats that have done the damage.

"I think the story is the fact that we're hitting much better than anybody thought and we're not pitching as well," Coach Ron LaRuffa said. "We're probably averaging nine runs [scored] a game. If our pitching can equal our hitting, we're going to be as good as people think we are."

Leading the way for the Barons has been cleanup hitter Casey Janssen, who has four home runs and leads Orange County with 25 RBIs. Leadoff hitter Seb Gonzales is hitting .420 and No. 2 hitter Bryan Daguio .430. John Clark, who bats third, has scored 20 runs.

"Our top of the lineup is doing exceptionally well," Janssen said. "The one through six or seven [hitters in the lineup] are pretty solid, and eight and nine are doing their jobs too. Everyone's getting good pitches because everyone's on base."

Janssen, who normally plays third base, also could prove to be the answer for Fountain Valley's pitching woes. The senior right-hander gave the starting rotation a big boost Friday when he allowed no hits over five innings and struck out eight in a 9-3 victory over Los Alamitos.

"If someone can step up [and pitch], I'll do it, I guess," Janssen said.

A PERFECT 10

A good start was one thing for La Quinta, but this is getting ridiculous.

A 10-0 record? Seniors playing with the enthusiasm of freshmen and freshmen playing with the maturity of seniors?

"We're probably the shock of the world," Aztec Coach Dave Demarest said, "but we're only one-third of the way through the season.

"I don't have any answers why we're 10-0. We have no returning starters and one returning player who's batting ninth. We've pitched real well and we've played good defense and as of lately we're starting to hit the ball."

Few have been hitting as well as freshmen Ian Kennedy and Ian Stewart, each of whom has gone 14 for 27 for a .519 batting average.

Kennedy also has a little feather in his cap known as a perfect game. The first baseman/picher has a 4-0 record, a 2.00 earned-run average and the maturity of someone well beyond his years.

"He's a 15-year-old going on 20," Demarest said.

Funny thing is, La Quinta's four starting seniors--all of them new to the lineup--are going on as freshmen as far as their fervor for the game.

"No one's lethargic. Nobody's going, 'Oh, this is my third year,' " Demarest said. "They're all excited about it. They know that every game they play, whether it's against a top-rated team or anyone else, they have to play. They know they're not world-beaters."

STREAK ENDS

Irvine pitcher Chad Hazlett's amazing six-game winning streak over six games came to an end Friday when the Vaqueros' Garrett Bradford posted a complete-game victory over Woodbridge.

LOOKING AHEAD

El Dorado, unranked after losing two games last week, looks for redemption Wednesday when it plays at No. 7 Cypress, the only unbeaten and untied team in the Empire League.

Also Wednesday, fourth-ranked La Quinta goes for win No. 11 against no losses when it hosts Bolsa Grande, which is coming off a string of impressive victories.

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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