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To the Victors Go the Headaches : Kennedy Baseball Team Is Tired, Sore After Thrilling Win

Times Staff Writer

Dick Whitney had a headache Friday the size of which, he said, “you wouldn’t believe.”

Whitney was tired. The Kennedy High baseball coach had not returned home until after 2 a.m. Friday. He managed to get about two hours sleep before returning to the campus at 7:50 a.m. to conduct finals in his math classes.

“I’m 49 going on 80,” he said.

Ah, the price of success.

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Whitney didn’t mind the pain, the lack of sleep or the sign of growing older. Not after what his team did Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.

The Golden Cougars, on the strength of a last-inning home run by Kevin Farlow, defeated Banning, 10-9, to capture the City 4-A championship.

“It was a crazy game,” Whitney said. “Then, all of a sudden, bam, there’s a homer and it’s over so quick.”

Quick?

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The game, played before 4,263 fans, lasted nearly 3 1/2 hours. And had Farlow not homered off Banning’s Eddie Lopez with two outs and nobody on, the two teams might have played into Friday morning. As it was, the game ended about 45 minutes before the midnight hour.

“The game,” Whitney said, “was kind of sloppy.”

Kind of?

The Golden Cougars and Pilots combined for 21 walks, 14 by Banning. Kennedy had five errors, Banning three. All but one of Banning’s nine runs was unearned. Kennedy totaled four unearned runs. Throughout all the action, there were just 13 hits, seven by the Pilots.

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The strategy that worked most of the evening was two-fold: a) hit the ball directly at a fielder or b) take a pitch, or two, or three or four.

Banning scored one run in the first on a throwing error by Kennedy’s Greg Synnott.

Kennedy got six runs in the second inning on five walks, three hits and two Banning errors.

Banning got two runs in the third on two hits and two errors.

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Banning scored five times in the fourth on one hit, four walks and two errors.

Kennedy rallied for three runs in the fifth on no hits. Banning pitchers walked five men in the inning, including two with the bases loaded. There was also an error by Banning pitcher Mike Ortiz.

The Pilots got their lone earned run in the sixth inning on a walk and two singles.

Tied at 9-9 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Kennedy loaded the bases with two outs. Joe Pardo, who was Banning’s starting pitcher but couldn’t get an out in the second inning, returned to the mound.

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He threw three balls to Randy Sreden and was replaced by Lopez, Banning’s sixth pitcher of the evening (if you count Pardo twice).

Lopez got two strikes on Sreden, then induced him to fly out to right field.

Banning had a man at second--via a walk and wild pitch--with two outs in the seventh inning but Sandy Sreden, Randy’s twin brother, recorded the last out.

That set the stage for Farlow, a sophomore who hit .432 in the Mid-Valley League.

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“I was thinking at the beginning of the inning, ‘We’ve got to do it this inning,’ ” Farlow said Friday. “I didn’t want to go extra innings.”

Farlow came to the plate after Paul Plyler had flied out and Corey Holst had grounded out.

“With two outs I just wanted to start a rally,” Farlow said, “get a base hit up the middle.”

Instead, on a 2-1 pitch, he ripped a shot down the left-field line. His drive landed in the box seats, 340 feet away.

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When he first hit the ball, Farlow was hoping it would land fair, so he could stretch it into a double.

“I didn’t see it go out,” he said.

Whitney, from his position in the third base coach’s box, initially didn’t think the ball had gone out.

“I heard a big bang,” he said, “and I thought it had hit the wall and bounced back. But then I saw the left fielder draped on the fence. (Farlow) hit it in just the right spot, to the shortest distance.”

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And so the Golden Cougars, second-place finishers in the Mid-Valley League, had captured the City championship from the Pilots, third-place finishers in the Marine League.

But don’t suggest to Whitney that the final was diluted because two also-rans met for the championship.

“Banning and Kennedy hung in there and did some things that other teams, which were supposedly better than us, didn’t do,” he said.

What Kennedy did was win its second City championship in five years. Banning was also the victim in 1981 when Kennedy won the crown.

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The Golden Cougars’ celebration was marred somewhat when the team bus returned to the school. It was discovered, Whitney said, that somebody had set reserve outfielder Gene Azar’s van on fire.

“It kind of took some of the happiness out of winning,” Whitney said.

But, the coach added, winning the title is still very special.

“I feel like I’m the 1,000-year-old man,” he said. “But it’s a happy time. It may never happen again.”

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