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For Gelalichs, baseball is a game of balls, strikes and texts

The La Verne family was busy, with sons playing in key games for UCLA, Pepperdine and Bonita High. Parents Greg and Karyn had it covered with the help of cellphones.

June 03, 2012|By Gary Klein
  • On Friday, Jeff Gelalich, left, helped UCLA win a regional opener at Jackie Robinson Stadium,while brother Matt led Pepperdine to a victory in a regional at Stanford.
On Friday, Jeff Gelalich, left, helped UCLA win a regional opener at Jackie… (Larry Goren, Paul Sakuma…)

Greg and Karyn Gelalich long ago mastered the coordination required for keeping up with their three baseball-playing sons.

"Divide and conquer," Greg said Saturday.

The Gelalichs, of La Verne, celebrated a new challenge this weekend with the start of the NCAA playoffs and the end of the high school season. And they wound up, for a day anyway, as the first family of Southland baseball.

On Friday, oldest son Jeff helped UCLA win a regional opener at Jackie Robinson Stadium, middle son Matt led Pepperdine to a victory in a regional at Stanford and youngest son Danny played in La Verne Bonita High's historic victory in the Southern Section Division 3 championship game at Dodger Stadium.

Greg stayed in Los Angeles — "You don't have to twist my arm to watch more than one baseball game," he said — while Karyn traveled to Palo Alto.

The slow cellphone reception you experienced Friday? Blame it on Greg and Karyn, who keep cell towers humming with texts to each other providing pitch-by-pitch updates of the boys' at-bats and on-field exploits.

"It was a good day for our family," Karyn said. "We don't take these for granted."

Pepperdine's game against Michigan State started at 1 p.m., so Karyn kept her husband posted as Matt, a freshman center fielder, drove in three runs in a 6-2 win.

Greg, who co-owns a machine shop in Los Angeles, was already at Dodger Stadium to take pictures of Danny going through pregame warm-ups, figuring a freshman who had been called up for the playoffs would not play in the 1:30 p.m. game against Alhambra.

"I was pretty relaxed," he said, "knowing one of my guys wasn't on the field."

But in the third inning, Bonita coaches inserted Danny as a pinch-runner.

Not that Karyn heard immediately about it from her now nervous husband.

"I asked him why he didn't let me know, and he said he was taking pictures," she said. "Luckily, one of my girlfriends sent me a text."

Danny was in the middle of the celebratory pile after the final out of Bonita's 5-1 victory over Alhambra, which gave Bonita its first championship since 1951.

Later that night, he was still in his jersey at Jackie Robinson Stadium, watching his father text his mother as Jeff, a junior, drove in a run with a first-inning double in UCLA's 3-0 victory over Creighton.

After Pepperdine's afternoon victory, an assistant coach asked Karyn whether she planned to fly to Los Angeles for the UCLA game. She laughed and said no.

The Gelalichs have already played out the possible regional scenarios. If one son is finished by Sunday and the other's extends to Monday, one of the parents will travel so they can watch together.

"These are games and times," Greg said, "you don't get back."

gary.klein@latimes.com Twitter.com/latimesklein

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