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Newbury Park pitcher Luke Eubank gets ahead, quickly

The senior is 5-0 with an 0.60 ERA, and throwing strikes is the secret of his success. He says that having a scholarship to Cal State Los Angeles has helped calm him.

April 13, 2012|Eric Sondheimer

Luke Eubank works so fast and usually throws so few pitches that Newbury Park road games are ending in less than 90 minutes, leaving varsity players with nothing to do while waiting for their bus to arrive.

Eubank, though, is perfectly content using his cellphone to listen to music or text his girlfriend.

"Fortunately, he has unlimited texting," said a family friend.

Newbury Park Coach Matt Goldfield is still trying to figure out what to make of Eubank's pitching dominance.

"He's been amazing," he said.

Eubank, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound senior right-hander, is 5-0 with five complete games. His earned-run average is 0.60, and he has given up only 11 hits in 35 innings while striking out 40 and walking three.

He has thrown two no-hitters and came close to a third last week when he had a perfect game for 5 2/3 innings against Simi Valley Royal.

"He looks like the equivalent of Greg Maddux in high school," Goldfield said.

Brian Felten, the head coach at Los Angeles Loyola, was a star pitcher at Encino Crespi and Loyola Marymount. His team was no-hit by Eubank last month, causing him to say, "The kid can pitch."

Eubank's development has professional scouts coming out to see what's happening, and college scouts are doing a rapid reevaluation. Eubank signed in November with Cal State Los Angeles, a Division II school.

"I guess I'm more calm," Eubank said. "I don't really worry about people getting hits when they do. Having that scholarship, I have nothing to worry about anymore. I just go out and pitch and try to win for my team."

If there's a secret to his success, it's his ability to throw strikes. He's seemingly ahead in the count of every batter, and it allows him to mix up his upper-80s fastball with a good changeup. Add a little deception in his delivery, in which he likes to coil and hide the ball for as long as possible, and you begin to understand the challenge facing hitters.

"Getting one-two-three in the first two innings brings a tone," he said. "It makes people think, 'Oh man, he's blowing through the lineup like nobody is going to touch him.' If I do walk somebody, I know it's going to come back and hurt me. I try to throw strikes. If they hit me, they do. If not, most of the times I'm going to dominate."

A year ago, Eubank was considered the No. 2 pitcher at Newbury Park and didn't always get along with Goldfield, who wanted him to stop trying to throw as hard as the Panthers' ace, Danny Keller, who was clocked in the 90s. Goldfield thought Eubank was trying to overthrow, hurting his performance.

When he returned for his senior year, everything had changed.

"What Luke has done is become a full pitcher," Goldfield said. "It's just unbelievable. We've never seen a guy who's ahead of every hitter, and he pitches to contact, and this season they haven't hit five balls hard."

The question is whether Eubank can keep up his precision pitching as batters, coaches and teams in the Marmonte League search for ways to better attack him.

"I've been doing it for five games now, and I don't feel like it's going to change," he said.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATSondheimer

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