As varsity debuts go, it was a show-stopper.
Sophomore Dan Manjarrez was a one-man wrecking crew in his first two games for El Segundo’s baseball team, going 6 for 7 with three home runs, nine RBIs and two game-winning hits in 8-7 victories over Brea-Olinda and Alhambra last week.
But Manjarrez’s meteoric career took a turn for the worse Tuesday when he collapsed during practice. Coach John Stevenson said his talented 10th-grader underwent tests Thursday is out of action indefinitely.
“He was complaining of pain and dizziness,” Stevenson said. “We thought it was the flu, but it might be a kidney infection.”
The loss of Manjarrez, a versatile athlete who plays first base, catcher, third base and outfield, was the second early-season setback for the Eagles. Left-hander Jason Wayt, perhaps the team’s top pitcher, suffered a shoulder injury shortly before the season and is sidelined indefinitely.
"(Wayt) has a long way to go,” Stevenson said. “I don’t think he’ll be back anytime in the near future.”
As for Manjarrez, the veteran coach said: “Everybody is more concerned about his health than when he’s going to play again.”
Despite losing two key players, the Eagles fared better than any South Bay team in the El Segundo Tournament by reaching the quarterfinals before losing to Simi Valley, 7-4, on Wednesday. El Segundo bounced back Friday with a 9-8 win over Westlake and faced Hart in the fifth-place final Saturday.
Westminster and Artesia met in Saturday night’s championship game, marking the ninth consecutive year that the title of the 32-team tournament went to a non-South Bay school. South Torrance was the last area winner, in 1980.
North Torrance, rated No. 1 in the South Bay in preseason rankings by The Times, had a miserable tournament. The Saxons, suffering from poor pitching and defense, took an 0-3-1 record into Saturday’s game against Palos Verdes in the 13th-place consolation final.
Mira Costa, a volleyball team with seven players 6-4 or taller, called on its little men Friday night to defeat visiting Palisades, 15-6, 15-8, 15-11, in a non-league match pitting two top-ranked squads.
Setters Craig Adamoli (5-11) and Jason Stimpfig (6-1) sparked the Mustangs with their all-around play. Adamoli had 8 kills in 9 attempts and played a pivotal role in Mira Costa’s comeback from an 8-0 deficit in the third game, while Stimpfig was a steadying influence with his all-around floor game and defense.
“Adamoli was an offensive force,” said Mira Costa Coach Mike Cook. “For a little guy playing against a lot of big people, I was really impressed.”
Mira Costa, ranked No. 1 in the Southern Section 4-A Division, improved to 2-0. Palisades, ranked No. 1 in the L.A. City Section 4-A Division, dropped to 1-1.
Junior outside hitter David Swatik led Mira Costa in total kills (9) and blocks (7), while 6-7 middle blocker Greg Shankle had 9 service points. The Mustangs had 23 blocks as a team.
Mira Costa opens Ocean League play Tuesday at Centennial before returning home for a crucial league match against North Torrance on Thursday night.
Rolling Hills basketball Coach Cliff Warren couldn’t help but feel snakebit this week as four Southern Section 3-A teams, including Morningside, competed in the Southern California Division III Regionals.
Two years ago, Rolling Hills lost in the 3-A final to Saugus but did not participate in the regionals because the Southern Secton allowed only the division champion to advance. Last season, the Titans lost in triple overtime to eventual 3-A champion Kennedy in the semifinals and missed the regionals when only Kennedy and runner-up Tustin were given berths.
This year, all four 3-A semifinalists gained entry into the Division III regionals. Rolling Hills lost in the 3-A quarterfinals to Corona del Mar.
Said Warren: “We’ve been one step behind every time.”
Michael Whiting, a former assistant coach at Chadwick and Bishop Montgomery, has enjoyed his best season in four years as head basketball coach at Bel-Air Prep by guiding the Bruins to the Southern Section Small Schools title and final of the Southern California Division V Regionals.
“I can’t believe we’ve gone as far as we have,” said Whiting, a Torrance resident. “We’ve been playing the underdog all season. Nobody noticed us until we won (the Small Schools title). We’ve been fighting for respect all year long.”
Bel-Air Prep was picked to finish fourth in the Delphic League but wound up tri-champions with Brentwood and Faith Baptist.
Once the Bruins reached the Small Schools final, they encountered another slap in the face. Their team picture in the Southern Section playoff program was backward, the result of the printer accidentally reversing the negative.
“That really motivated our kids,” Whiting said. Bel-Air Prep then went out and defeated Newport Christian for the Small Schools title.
Erik Russell, a right-handed pitcher headed to Arizona State, broke a 3-3 tie with a three-run homer and pitched 4 2/3 innings to register the win in Bishop Montgomery’s 8-4 victory over Serra in the first round of the Serra Tournament on Friday.
Russell’s performance helped the Knights (6-0) remain the only unbeaten baseball team in the South Bay. They play Mary Star at 3 p.m. Monday in a second-round game at Fromhold Field in San Pedro.