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2001 Baseball Preview

Golden West League

February 20, 2001

Ocean View

Coach: Steve Barrett

2000 record: 13-13-2

League record: 7-5

The Seahawks return six starters who were first- or second-team all-league selections, making them the early choice to win the title. Ocean View's strengths are pitching and defense, but the team could struggle to score runs. Tyler Kreil (2.63 ERA) and Mike La Pier lead the pitching staff, while third baseman Daric Barton (.421, 6 HRs, 29 RBIs) and first baseman Nathan Smith (.407, team-leading 33 hits) return to lead the offense. Catcher B.J. DuBarry and outfielder Josh Force, second-team all-league selections, also return. If the newcomers, including Mater Dei transfer Shawn Mitchell, a second baseman, and shortstop Mike Wentworth, who was the Seahawks' freshman team MVP, can step up, Ocean View could live up to expectations.

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Saddleback

Coach: Bob Mangram

2000 record: 10-16

League record: 5-7

Coach Bob Mangram, in his 27th year as coach, said the Roadrunners are merely seeking a playoff berth, but a lack of speed could hurt the cause. The four returning starters are catcher Frank Gonzalez, a second-team all-league selection who hit .410, pitchers Danny Valenzuela and Leonard Ramos and infielder Edgar Ochoa.

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Santa Ana

Coach: Gary Crippen

2000 record: 12-15

League record: 6-6

If the Saints are to have their first winning season since 1988, they will need another big year from shortstop Manny Pedroza, who hit .451 last season and scored 22 runs, and first baseman David Aguilera, who hit .287. Infielder Sergio Villegas, catcher Eric Lopez, first baseman John Madrid and outfielders Danny Robles and Chris Macias should also contribute. Coach Gary Crippen said his team's young pitchers, led by junior Henry Buenrostro, and a combination of defense and speed give it a chance to contend for its first league title since 1982.

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Tustin

Coach: Greg Jennings

2000 record: 0-28

League record: 0-12

Tustin won the league crown and three playoff games last season, including a 7-1 quarterfinal victory over eventual Division II champion Villa Park, but had to forfeit all of its 19 victories after it was discovered the Tillers had used an ineligible player. Tustin graduated 19 seniors from that team but should be in the hunt for the league title once again. The Tillers' freshman team has won six straight league championships and the junior varsity team has won five of the last six. Outfielders David Miller and Ryan McHale, part-time starters last season, and shortstop/pitcher Carlos De La Riva are the top returners. Replacing pitcher Ivan Ramirez (10-2, 67 strikeouts, 1.42 ERA) will be tough, and the Tillers will depend on juniors Michael Cooper and Bryan Harris to solidify their young pitching staff.

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Westminster

Coach: Bill Whiteley

2000 record: 16-9

League record: 12-0

The Lions finished one game behind Tustin last season and lost to Thousand Oaks in the first round of the Division II playoffs but were awarded the league championship after Tustin forfeited all its victories. Westminster is experienced, returning four first-team all-league selections, including league pitcher of the year Fred Rodriguez (8-1, 3.40 ERA) and outfielder Jared Jenkins (.416, 23 runs). Other key returners are outfielder Tony Flores, first baseman Jeff Kerley, infielder/designated hitter Jamie Rodriguez, second baseman Chris Kennison, catcher Mike Brinkman and outfielder Paul Bauer. Replacing league MVP Chris Carey will be tough, but the team's experience and defense should keep it in the hunt for the league title.

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