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Paschal Is Flourishing in Squeezes

Baseball: Chaminade sophomore left-hander picking up victories and congratulatory hugs from coach.


WEST HILLS — Bobby Paschal wants more hugs.

The Chaminade High sophomore left-hander gets one from Coach Scott Drootin after every good outing.

"Luckily, I've been getting a few lately," Paschal said.

That's for sure.

Paschal emerged this season as Chaminade's most effective starter, posting an 8-0 record with a 1.35 earned-run average and three complete games.

He is looking to improve those statistics and move the Eagles (20-6) closer to the Southern Section Division IV title with a victory over host Ridgecrest Burroughs (19-3-1) in the quarterfinals today.

"Bobby thrives on the pressure," Drootin said.

The Eagles, partly because of an injury to junior right-hander Jason Urquidez, got off to a slow start. Then came their defining moment.

Playing on the road against Crespi, then ranked No. 2 in the region by The Times, the Eagles pulled off a 5-3 upset on Paschal's stellar performance.

He allowed six hits and two runs in 6 1/3 innings, handing the Celts their only Mission League defeat and their first setback against Chaminade since 1997. Paschal knocked in two runs for good measure.

"I knew then I could beat anyone," Paschal said. "I wanted to win that game for our seniors."

Paschal, 5 feet 10 and 180 pounds, picked up steam from there.

At the Bishop Gorman tournament in Las Vegas in April, Paschal pitched a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts to down highly regarded Carson, 4-0. He later notched two tournament victories in short relief.

"Crespi and Vegas gave us validation that we were a good team," Paschal said.

Lompoc can attest to that. The Braves, seeded No. 2 in the division, were bounced from the playoffs by unseeded Chaminade, 2-1, in a first-round game May 19.

Paschal came through again, allowing two hits in 6 2/3 innings, the only Lompoc run scoring in the third inning because of an error.

"Oh my gosh, Bobby Paschal is unbelievable right now," left fielder Erik Johnson of Chaminade said. "He can't be touched."

Which gives Drootin more satisfaction than many can imagine.

The coach took heat last season for putting Paschal on the varsity, catching an earful from critics who said the freshman wasn't ready.

"I saw something in the kid and I wanted him to get used to our [varsity] system and I wanted to be able to work with him," Drootin said.

Paschal played sparingly with the varsity last year and started this season as a reserve.

Although not a power pitcher, Paschal has 42 strikeouts in 57 innings, split evenly between those caught looking and those retired swinging. He relies on a fastball, curve and his favorite pitch, a change-up.

"I guess I've just been in a groove," Paschal said. "I've been hitting my spots. . . . It feels like I can throw all three pitches for strikes all the time."

That's part of the reason for Paschal's success, along with the understanding that riding such a high horse can be precarious if not balanced with a healthy dose of reality.

"One thing he knows and we've made it clear is that those [victories] mean nothing unless you win your next game," Drootin said.

At least for the hugs, if nothing else.

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