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Orange County Prep Baseball : Surico Puts Pressure on the Scouts : He Signs With Loyola, Then Pitches Tustin to 8-0 Win

Times Staff Writer

Steve Surico, Tustin High School pitcher, relieved himself of a lot of pressure Wednesday by signing a national letter of intent to attend Loyola Marymount University on a baseball scholarship.

No longer will college recruiters barrage the senior left-hander with phone calls or appear at his games to evaluate his every pitch.

But Surico still has the professional scouts to deal with.

They were out in force, radar guns and all, again Friday to watch Surico pitch against Foothill in a Century League game played on the Tillers’ field.

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They saw quite a show.

Surico threw a complete-game, four-hitter with 12 strikeouts and went 4 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs scored to lead Tustin to an 8-0 victory over the Knights.

He said afterward that Wednesday’s decision to sign with Loyola Marymount “took a big load off my mind.” It has also put the pro scouts in a different perspective.

The business perspective.

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Surico no longer feels pressured by the scouts. Having signed with a college, he now sees their presence as an opportunity to improve his bargaining position if drafted in June.

A player who has secured a college scholarship usually is offered a larger signing bonus, because the pro team must consider the value of the scholarship in its attempt to lure the player from school. And, the better the player, the bigger the bonus.

Surico said that he hasn’t decided whether he will turn professional if drafted. But he’s keeping his options open.

Performances such as Friday’s certainly won’t hurt his leverage. He struck out the side in the second inning, allowed four singles in the game and ran into trouble just three times.

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Surico (5-0) gave up a walk and a single in the fourth inning with the Tillers ahead, 2-0, but he struck out Pat Crawford to end the threat. The Knights had runners on second and third base in the fifth, but Surico got Chris Cutliff to pop out. After Tustin broke the game open with five runs in the fifth inning, Foothill again had runners on second and third in the sixth, but Surico struck out Mike Pope and Doug Kopcha to preserve the shutout.

Offensively, Surico snapped out of a 7-for-25 batting slump.

He had a hit-and-run single to right field in the first inning and scored on Ken Lynch’s bloop, two-run single to left field. He had a hit-and-run, two-run double to right-center field to ignite a five-run rally in the fifth inning and added an RBI single in the sixth. His other hit was an infield single in the third.

In other Century League action:

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Villa Park 3, Canyon 0--Richie Simmons (3-2) pitched into the seventh inning before giving way to sophomore Jerry Aschoff, who entered the game with the bases loaded and got the final out, as the Spartans upset the Comanches at Villa Park High.

Simmons also was the winning pitcher in Villa Park’s 8-0 upset over first-place Tustin last Friday. Against the Comanches, the Spartans scored all of their runs in the second inning on Jeff Edwards’ two-run double and Simmons’ RBI single.

Santa Ana 4, El Modena 3--The Saints scored twice in the top of the seventh inning to defeat the Vanguards at El Modena High. Relief pitcher Ray Lopez knocked in the winning run with a two-out single. Santa Ana’s John Hefler hit two home runs, his third and fourth of the season, and added a single.

Santa Ana Valley 8, Orange 7--Gene Novella tripled in the fifth with the bases loaded to lead the Falcons over the Panthers in Santa Ana. Ralph Dominguez worked the fifth inning to get the win. Dave Shill homered in the third inning for the Orange. Carlos Lopez was 3 for 4 with one RBI for Santa Ana Valley.

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