Jack McDowell is generally regarded as the premier pitcher in the Pacific 10 Southern Division, but USC's Brad Brink and UCLA's Alex Sanchez are proving that the Stanford sophomore isn't the league's only quality pitcher.
There's no question that McDowell, a 6-foot 5-inch, 180-pound right-hander, is one of the top pitchers on the West Coast. His credentials speak for themselves. So far this season he has a 6-1 record with a 2.04 earned-run average and has completed four of his seven starts. In 57 innings, he has walked only 17 while striking out 53.
McDowell was one of the league's best pitchers as a freshman, helping Stanford win the Southern Division title. His 11-4 record included a 9-2 victory over Arizona in the College World Series. He ranked third in the league in complete games with six, was third in innings pitched with 128, and fourth in strikeouts with 88.
Brink, though, is pitching as well as anyone in the country. He's won his last two starts, both against conference opponents, in impressive fashion.
The junior right-hander beat Arizona State in Tempe, no easy task, 7-2, while restricting the Sun Devils to seven hits, six of them singles. Just one run was earned. He walked only two and struck out a career-high 13, including six in the last two innings.
Last Friday night at Dedeaux Field, he shut out an Arizona club that was scoring nine runs a game and had a .327 batting average, 5-0. He limited the Wildcats to just four hits, two during the first eight innings.
That victory raised his record to 5-1 and lowered his ERA to 1.39. In 58 innings, he has yielded only 35 hits and 22 walks while striking out 53. It's quite a turnaround from last season, when he was 4-10 with a 6.38 ERA and allowed 145 hits and 60 walks in 108 innings.
Brink is eligible for this summer's amateur draft and there were 25 scouts in attendance Friday night, many armed with radar guns to clock his fastball, which is usually in the 90 m.p.h. range.
Although Sanchez won't be eligible for the draft until 1987, the sophomore right-hander is rapidly establishing himself as a top prospect. He ran his record to 5-0 Friday by beating California, 12-3. Only two runs were earned as he limited the Bears to three hits. His ERA is a respectable 3.20, and in 47 innings he has allowed 38 hits while striking out 43.
Sanchez, a versatile athlete, will give scouts the option of drafting him as an outfielder. When not pitching, he usually plays center field. He can hit a little, too, as his .317 average attests.
McDowell, Brink and Sanchez are enjoying banner seasons, but for Arizona senior Mike Young, the season, and perhaps a promising career, has ended. He recently quit the team.
Young, a hard-throwing left-hander, was attempting a comeback after missing the last month of the 1985 season.
In the second inning of a game at Stanford last April 12, a line drive hit by Toi Cook struck him just below the left eye, shattering his cheek bone. Reconstructive surgery repaired the damage.
At the time of the injury, Young had an 8-4 record, a 4.07 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 85 innings. Considered one of the country's top prospects, he was expected to be a first-round selection in the June draft. Despite the injury, he was picked on the second round by the Philadelphia Phillies.
Young, who played at Rolling Hills High and Harbor College before going to Arizona, began his comeback by pitching for a Long Beach semipro team last summer. He also pitched during the Wildcats' fall practice sessions.
But there were problems when he started facing college teams again this season. He started Feb. 3 against Cal State Dominguez Hills and went six innings, allowing seven hits and two runs. He struck out four but walked five. In his next appearance, Feb. 8 against Pepperdine, he went 2 innings, allowing two hits and two runs while striking out three, but he walked six.
In all, he made five appearances, the last Feb. 18. He was 0-1 with a 6.60 ERA. In 15 innings he yielded 17 hits and 11 runs, all earned. He struck out 11 but walked 17.
Young, who still attends classes, quit the week of the Wildcats' conference opener against Stanford. He told Jack Magruder of the Arizona Daily Star that he was disappointed with his performances, that he felt uncomfortable. He said he didn't feel like playing, that it was a struggle to play, and that he wasn't having fun. He said he never felt the same after the injury.
Torey Lovullo isn't known as a long-ball threat, but the UCLA second baseman added his name to the NCAA record book by hitting two home runs in one inning Friday at Jackie Robinson Stadium in the Bruins' victory over Cal. He tied the record set last year by Todd Wagner of South Florida.
It was the fourth straight game in which Lovullo had hit a homer, giving him seven. He failed to homer in 51 games as a freshman. Last season he hit 11 in 61 games.
Lovullo, UCLA's leadoff hitter, almost extended his home run streak Saturday against Cal. In his first at-bat, he hit a line drive to right-center that hit about a foot from the top of the fence. Instead of another homer, he settled for the first triple of his college career.
College Baseball Notes
By coming from behind to beat Arizona Saturday, 14-12, USC equalled its 1985 victory total in the Pac-10 Southern Division. The Trojans, 5-3 in league play, didn't win their fifth conference game last season until May 5. They then lost their next four and finished with a 5-25 record. The Trojans, who trailed going into the bottom of the fourth inning, 8-5, scored six runs to take a lead they never relinquished. In all, six of USC's 15 victories have been comebacks. . . . UCLA's Torey Lovullo wouldn't mind facing Cal pitching every week. In helping the Bruins sweep the three-game series, he went 8 for 14 and drove in 14 runs. In Monday's 18-9 victory, he went 3 for 6, including a grand slam homer, and drove in 7 runs. Lovullo, who entered the series with a .230 average and 12 RBIs, is batting .283 and leads the team with 26 RBIs. . . . Cal State Fullerton opened play in the Best In The West tournament at Fresno State Monday with an 8-2 win over Nevada Reno. Catcher John Eccles keyed the Titans' six-run third inning with his second grand slam of the season. Eccles, a senior who missed almost a month of the 1985 season with shoulder and hand injuries, has 7 homers and 31 RBIs. In 42 games last year, he hit 1 homer and drove in 14 runs.