Kennedy High Coach Dick Whitney returned to the dugout Thursday to continue his quest for a second consecutive City 4-A baseball championship.
Whitney’s guidance took a detour this season when he entered Huntington Hospital in Pasadena on March 25 to undergo exploratory surgery for possible cancer of the lymph nodes. The diagnosis was negative.
“I’m pretty optimistic about it,” Whitney said. “When you’re in the coaching racket, you’re more worried about heart attacks than anything else.”
Birmingham pitcher Jordan Cook gave him one more thing to worry about, however. The right-hander threw a four-hitter as the Braves beat the Valley’s No. 1-ranked team, 6-1, in a Mid-Valley League game at Birmingham.
The Braves won despite losing catcher Shawn Kaminkow before the game. Kaminkow was taken to a hospital after being struck in the left eye with a ball during pregame warm-ups.
“When Shawn got injured a lot of the players got down because he’s an important part of this club,” Sinks said. Kaminkow, with stitches under his eye, returned to the dugout before the end of the game.
Kevin Zeitz helped the Braves break open a tight game in the fourth. The third baseman singled and advanced to second base on an error by the right fielder, Todd Davis.
Second baseman Damon Buford walked and center fielder Kevin Gelbard was hit by Kennedy’s best pitcher, Eric Evans. A single by Ernie Perez scored Zeitz and Buford to give Birmingham a 4-0 lead.
Evans was removed from the game after pitching 3 innings. The right-hander gave up four hits, four runs and walked four batters.
“Evans is our best pitcher, and he just didn’t have it today,” Whitney said. “He just couldn’t get into the groove and they were able to hit him.”
Birmingham had nine hits.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all at the way we hit the ball today,” Sinks said. “We’ve been playing this kind of baseball since our Easter tournament. And I expect us to play this way.”
Said Whitney: “They made the big plays and they hit the ball well. We didn’t hit the ball well.”
Cook struck out seven batters and walked three as Birmingham improved to 4-2 overall and 1-1 in league play.
Kennedy is 4-2 and 1-1.