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It’s News to Mar Vista’s Mendivil : Right-Hander’s Success Sort of Catches Him by Surprise

Mar Vista High School pitcher Manuel Mendivil doesn’t appear to be keeping up with critical current events of the day. When a reporter told him he leads the county in victories, it was news to him.

“I’m up there, really?” Mendivil asked. “That makes me more confident.”

Mendivil has reason to be confident. The right-hander has a 9-1 record and his earned-run average is 2.05, which is also among the best in San Diego.

Mendivil’s victories include two shutouts--a six-hitter against Coronado and a four-hitter against Montgomery. With 9 of the 14 Mariner wins, he is one of the main reasons Mar Vista is in first place in the Metro Mesa League.

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This is the first season Mendivil, a three-year varsity player, has pitched for Mar Vista. He played the outfield and third base last season.

But at the start of this season, Coach Jim Goodwin was short of experienced pitching--so he auditioned everyone on the mound. Mendivil entered a nonleague game against Christian with the bases loaded and one out, then promptly worked out of the inning. That was enough to persuade Goodwin to give Mendivil top billing on the pitching staff.

“Manuel doesn’t give up. He doesn’t quit,” Goodwin said. “When he has a bad inning, he comes back and has a good one. You need that in a pitcher.”

Mendivil isn’t a power pitcher--instead he relies on curves and off-speed stuff--and it shows in his strikeout total, only 15 in 58 innings.

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“The coach says I have a natural slider,” Mendivil said. “I try to keep the hitters off balance. If I try to blow the ball by hitters, I get tired.”

Said Goodwin: “Manuel gets a lot of ground-ball outs. That’s the basic reason for his success. He nibbles at the corners and changes speeds. He pitches within his physical strengths.”

Control isn’t one of Mendivil’s strong points, either. He’s walked 43 batters, so he’s usually pitching with men on base.

“There’ll be days when I have good control and days when I’m off,” said Mendivil, who walked nine in one game this year. “I’m working on being more consistent. I’ve got to work on my control.”

Mendivil may have to worry about getting the ball over the plate, but he doesn’t have to be concerned with a lack of offense from his teammates. The Mariners are averaging 8.1 runs per game and have a .333 team batting average.

“Manuel has been fortunate,” Goodwin said. “Every time he’s gone out, we’ve scored runs. I think the team makes him really good. I hope Manuel is the first one to admit it.”

Mendivil is aware he probably wouldn’t have his nine wins without a productive offense behind him.

“That makes my job easier,” Mendivil said. “I know I’ll get runs. That makes you more secure and stable.”

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Mendivil would be feeling even more stable if his hitting came around. His average is .214.

“I’m batting like my ERA,” said Mendivil, who plans to attend Southwestern College next year. “I guess when you’re pitching, you don’t concentrate on hitting. I can’t wait to get back on the mound (after an at-bat).”

And the way Mendivil has been pitching, Goodwin and the Mariners probably can’t wait to get him back on the mound, either.


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