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Diamonds Are Forever, or at Least It Seems That Way on Opening Day

March 06, 2001|BEN BOLCH

If the rest of the season is as exciting as opening day on Friday, when old friendships were renewed, stars were born and a coaching career was revived, then this will be a year to remember in Orange County baseball.

For starters, Villa Park Coach Tom Tereschuk got the best of his childhood buddy, Mark Clabough, when Tereschuk's Spartans beat Clabough's Los Alamitos Griffins, 8-3, in the first round of the Loara tournament.

Clabough is coaching Los Alamitos this year after taking Long Beach Wilson to the Southern Section Division I championship game last June.

Clabough has known Tereschuk since their Little League days. They attended Lakewood High together and coached together at Whittier High from 1987-93.

Since Loara tournament officials allow coaches to request their first-round matchup, it was only natural for the two to pick each other. Last season, Villa Park beat Long Beach Wilson in the Loara tournament and the teams split a doubleheader later in the season.

"I love playing [Tereschuk's] teams because they're well-coached and competitive," Clabough said. "His teams take on his personality, and that's a good thing."

Tereschuk was equally complimentary. "I like to play against Mark because his teams are coached very well and we get a lot out of playing them."

The Spartans won Friday thanks to four strong innings from starter Dan Reid, a senior left-hander who should be one of the top pitchers in the county this season.

Corona del Mar left-hander Nick Rhodes, a sophomore, may not have Reid's experience, but he certainly showed his ability to dominate when he threw a complete-game three-hitter in a 6-0 victory over Magnolia. Rhodes, playing in his first varsity game, struck out nine.

Valencia's Hector Ambriz, perhaps the county's most versatile player, started what could be an MVP season on a high note when he pitched four innings to pick up the win and had two hits in a 6-3 victory over Bellflower.

The day's biggest surprise came when El Dorado thumped fourth-ranked University, 11-5, behind two RBIs apiece from Joe Turgeon, Brian Jackson and Brett Carlin. The Golden Hawks may have what it takes to win the Empire League, which may be the county's toughest, top to bottom.

St. Margaret's proved early leads are only nice if you can hold them after going ahead 3-0 in the top of the first inning of its 7-5 loss to Los Angeles Windward.

The Tartans gave up seven runs on only two hits in the bottom of the inning as Charles Manger failed to record an out, walking five batters and hitting another before being replaced by Andrew Ferris.

If there was a bright spot, it was that Ferris and fellow reliever Ryan Birtcher held Windward hitless from there, with Ferris chalking up five strikeouts in three innings.

The most poignant moment of the day belonged to Woodbridge Coach Bob Flint, who resumed his career after "retiring" last May after 21 seasons as Irvine's coach. At the time, Flint said he wanted to leave primarily because he was worn out from spending the previous two decades grooming the field at Irvine High.

But Flint didn't blink before taking the Woodbridge job later in the summer because its field, at Windrow Park, is maintained by the city of Irvine.

It was typical Flint baseball Friday as the Warriors manufactured runs and pitched by committee to record a 7-4 victory over La Mirada. Woodbridge managed only five hits, none for extra bases, but received eight walks.

LOOKING AHEAD

Play resumes in the Loara tournament today with quarterfinal games. Katella plays top-ranked Villa Park at Boysen Park; Kennedy plays at Canyon; San Clemente plays Lakewood at 3 p.m. at Glover Stadium, and El Dorado plays Cypress at 7 p.m. at Glover Stadium. The tournament championship is Saturday at Glover Stadium.

The North Orange County Classic also continues this week. Its championship game is 3 p.m. Friday at Fullerton College.

*

Correspondents Mark Alai and Mike Haubrich contributed to this report.

If you have an item or idea for the high school baseball report, you can call us at (714) 966-7826 or e-mail us at ben.bolch@latimes.com

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