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Rungo's Direction Turned Arlington Into Champion

June 20, 2002|Ben Bolch

When the Southern Section baseball playoff pairings were released in mid-May, unseeded Riverside Arlington was considered, at best, a dark horse.

Not that Coach Gary Rungo and his players didn't feel more like thoroughbreds.

"The kids used [the perceived snub] as motivation," said Rungo, whose team won the Ivy League by four games. "They got fired up about it."

Arlington recorded four shutouts in the playoffs, including a 1-0 victory over Santa Margarita in the championship game, to win the Division III title. The Lions (25-6) won their five playoff games by a combined score of 11-3.

Arlington prevailed because of Rungo's guidance and the leadership of junior pitchers Joe Reyes and Zack Zinicola, who combined for three complete games in the playoffs.

Rungo, The Times' baseball coach of the year, also credited his assistants, infield coach John Costa, outfield coach John Wilbur and pitching coach Robert Lunetta.

"I felt we deserved to win every game we played because of the way we practiced," he said. "I was upset the season was over because I wasn't going to be around these guys anymore."

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