In an era during which teenage interaction sometimes happens more often through playing video games or communicating via text messages, there's something special about two brothers spending real time together on the same sports team.
The other day, 14-year-old freshman Charlie Saum was the catcher for Ventura St. Bonaventure and on the mound was his 16-year-old brother, Jake, a junior who throws fastballs in the 90s.
"It's a lot of fun," Charlie said.
"It's just like playing catch in the yard," Jake said.
Asked if his brother throws too hard, Charlie said, "I've gotten used to it."
St. Bonaventure defeated Simi Valley 1-0 in eight innings of a Southern Section Division 2 playoff opener behind Jake, who's only 5 feet 10, but what a left arm he has. The straight-A student has 137 strikeouts in 71⅓ innings and a 1.08 ERA. He struck out 19 in a game earlier this season.
His improved control (he has 16 walks) can be traced to having a conversation with his future coach, UCLA's John Savage, about his mental preparation.
"I was able to get advice from coach Savage," he said. "It's been working wonders for me."
The boys live in Port Hueneme and playing catch is as much a part of their routine as sleeping. It will be something they'll cherish for years to come.
It was a great week for siblings on athletic teams.
At the Southern Section track and field finals, the Santa Ana Mater Dei brother-sister duo of Titan and Dominque Ruotolo each won Division 2 championships in the triple jump. Titan went 45-9¾. Dominque won at 40-9¼.
In the City Section Open Division softball championship game, sisters Ava and Emily Justman led Chatsworth past San Pedro 4-1. Ava struck out 10 while Emily had two hits.
At the City Section volleyball championships, twins Jeff and Scott Stuart helped Palisades defeat Chatsworth to win the Open Division championship.
JV isn't bad: It used to be that playing junior varsity was the norm before reaching varsity. Nowadays, it's like everyone wants to skip JV as if it were a jinx.
Nick Tanis of Valencia spent two years on JV before getting a chance to play varsity baseball full time at Valencia this season as a senior. He was converted to a sidearm pitcher, culminating on Friday when he struck out four in two shutout innings of relief to record his fifth save and help the Vikings stun No. 1-seeded Studio City Harvard-Westlake 8-4 in the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.
"He's been amazing,'' coach Mike Killinger said.
Remember, Michael Jordan once played JV, and he became a pretty good basketball player.
Team for USC fans: If USC fans want to cheer for a baseball team, it should be La Mirada. The Matadores have two exceptional sophomore pitchers committed to the Trojans in Jared Jones and Emilio Morales. Jones hit a walk-off grand slam on Friday and struck out 13 in seven innings of scoreless relief. Morales is 8-0. La Mirada is destined to win a Division 1 championship in 2018, 2019 or 2020 with these guys on the mound.