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2001 Baseball Preview

Pacific Coast League

February 20, 2001

Corona del Mar

Coach: John Emme

2000 record: 14-12

League record: 6-6

The Sea Kings return seven starters, including five all-league selections from last season's second-place team. Leading the way will be center fielder Billy Eagle (.450, 18 stolen bases, 18 RBIs) and pitcher Cavan Cuyler (6-2, 2.90 ERA). Also returning are pitcher/outfielder Dave Knecht (.329, 16 stolen bases), first baseman Andrew Johns (.366, 14 RBIs), third baseman Eric Snell (.377, 15 RBIs) and second baseman Wes Hockinson (.344, 12 RBIs). Knecht went 3-2 on the mound with a 3.63 ERA. Other returners include pitchers J.D. Martinez (4-7, 4.56 ERA) and Matt Marston (1.62 ERA). With Eagle, catcher Rory McKeever and shortstop Keith Long, Corona del Mar is strong defensively up the middle.

*

Costa Mesa

Coach: Kirk Bauermeister

2000 record: 11-14-1

League record: 4-8

The Mustangs missed the playoffs last season only after losing their final regular-season game. This year's deep and experienced team has the tools to atone for that. The pitching staff is anchored by first-team all-league selection Carlos Franco, who was 3-1 with six saves, and Nick Cabico, a second-team all-league selection. Jeremiah Haubrick (4-2) and Brent Stevens (1-4) will also see action. Second baseman Steven Shores (.339, 10 RBIs) and catcher Dan Hunter (.296, nine RBIs) also earned all-league honors. Shortstop Bill Halverson and third baseman Mike McGuire are expected to contribute, along with newcomers Anthony Grubisich, who will play first base and designated hitter, and Evan McGuire, who will play outfield.

*

Estancia

Coach: Doug Deats

2000 record: 9-14

League record: 2-10

The Eagles expect to start seven juniors, and defense and pitching figure to be the keys to the young team's success. Armando Ortiz and Jordan Hart will pitch and play infield. A.J. Perkins and Casey Gates also return in the infield. Senior catcher Brent Davis will help the pitching staff keep its composure. Returning starters J.B. Goff and Justin Lund join top newcomer Mitch Valdez in the outfield.

*

Laguna Beach

Coach: Mike Schubert

2000 record: 11-13

League record: 6-6

With an experienced pitching staff and a lineup full of run producers, the Artists expect to contend for the league title. First-team all-league pick John Verdugo (6-2) anchors a staff that includes reliever Alex Dy-Buncio, who had five saves last year. Shortstop Jimmy Bobst and catcher Jeff Packard give the squad strength up the middle. Scott Youngstead will also pitch and play outfield. Top newcomers include third baseman Andy Whalen, infielders Clayton Dubin and Scott Labeda, outfielder Marko Kovacevic, first baseman/outfielder Brian Beck, pitcher/outfielder Todd Merz, a La Canada St. Francis transfer, and catcher Ian Baumer, an Aliso Niguel transfer.

*

Northwood

Coach: Robert Stuart

2000 record: 0-0

League record: 0-0

The Timberwolves, playing without any seniors in their first varsity season, figure to face a tough road in a strong league. Pitchers Thomas Gray, Brandon Gragnano, Lee Watanabe and Stephen Lucas have been promoted from the junior varsity. Newcomers Neil Buckley and Andrew Morrison will also see time on the mound. Infielders Dustin Landeis and Ryan Miller should also contribute.

*

University

Coach: Chris Conlin

2000 record: 22-5

League record: 12-0

Last year's league MVP, Jordan Cumsky, is gone, but Times' first-team all-county designated hitter Jay Nichols returns. The 6-1, 200-pound senior is coming off a season in which he hit .558 with 43 RBIs and 23 runs. Infielder Kevin Conlin, right fielder Matt Stone and first baseman Zach Sherwood give the Trojans offensive depth and experience. But three pitchers graduated, leaving Adam Horner and Bob Stoneking (2.60 ERA) the bulk of the load. Designated hitter/outfielder Dan Lobue and catcher Noah Edmonds should provide some pop.

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