There are sprinters around every corner at Hawthorne High School, but they aren’t the sole commodities of the football and track teams anymore.
Now the baseball team is getting into the act.
Wednesday afternoon, the Cougars stole six bases and banged out 12 hits en route to a 13-5 victory over visiting Palos Verdes in both teams’ Bay League opener.
“We had our rabbits running out there today,” said Hawthorne Coach Lester Sakurai. “As long as we get on, we’re gonna run and run until the catcher throws us out.”
Sakurai, who coached Mira Costa last year, has installed an aggressive, hard-running offense. His approach has worked. The speedy Cougars (5-3 overall, 1-0 in the Bay League) have succeeded on 31 of 36 base-stealing attempts.
The master thief for Hawthorne has been shortstop Kenny Alexander, who has yet to be caught in his senior season. Wednesday, Alexander walked four times, singled and stole his ninth base of the year--even though Palos Verdes left-hander Jason Goldberg pitched out against him.
The Cougars got a complete game out of pitcher Steve Keith. The slender junior left-hander struck out a season-high eight and scattered eight hits on the way to his fourth win in as many starts.
Palos Verdes’ Goldberg’s control vanished in the fourth inning when he walked five. Hawthorne manufactured eight runs on only three hits in the inning.
Keith sailed right along. The only stain on his performance was the three-run homer he served up in the third to Palos Verdes catcher Mike Hoye. Hoye’s opposite-field shot easily cleared the 370-foot sign in left-center.
But Keith didn’t let Hoye’s blast shake him. He notched back-to-back strikeouts of Hoye and Spuds Powell--Palos Verdes’ best hitters--to escape a jam two innings later.
Left fielder Mando Fernandez (3 for 4, three steals, two runs batted in) led the Cougars. Rich Peters went 2 for 2 and had two RBIs.
Fernandez and teammate Teddy Golden have swiped seven bases apiece this year. And center fielder Maurice L’Allemand has stolen six. So don’t expect Sakurai to abandon his philosophy soon.
“We might have run a bit too much today,” Sakurai said. “But we’re learning how to work together on hit-and-run combinations and stealing.”
Hawthorne and Palos Verdes (4-4, 0-1) meet again Friday at 3 p.m. at Palos Verdes.
Leuzinger 7, Inglewood 1--Senior left-hander Tyrone Scott pitched a one-hitter and struck out a career-high 16 batters to power the Olympians in a Bay League opener at Sentinel Field in Inglewood.
Scott, who walked five, improved to 4-1 and helped Leuzinger (8-2-1 overall) to its sixth straight win. Inglewood’s run was unearned. Thomas Gordon went 3 for 4 with two RBIs.
Rolling Hills 11, Beverly Hills 4--Greg Schwartz drove in five runs and Shaun Carpenter collected two RBIs to lead the Titans in a Bay League opener at Rolling Hills.
The Titans (5-5 overall) broke open a close game with four runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by Schwartz’s two-run double. They added five runs in the fifth. Carpenter went 3 for 4 and Schwartz was 2 for 4 as Rolling Hills collected 11 hits.
Right-hander Dan Block (3-1) relieved starter Ron Campbell in the fourth inning and gave up three hits and one run. He struck out six.
Torrance 14, Santa Monica 11--The Tartars rallied from an 11-3 deficit and pulled out a Bay League victory with three unearned runs in the seventh inning at Santa Monica. Torrance (2-5 overall) scored on two errors and a sacrifice fly to break an 11-11 tie.
Mike Kendall went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and shut out Santa Monica in the sixth and seventh to earn the win in relief. Howie Kingsmill and Antone Williamson were each 2 for 5 with two RBIs and three runs scored for Torrance, which had fallen behind by eight runs after five innings.
Mira Costa 9, West Torrance 8--The Mustangs, taking advantage of four West errors and four walks, rallied for nine runs in the bottom of the seventh to post a victory in an Ocean League opener at Mira Costa.
Trailing 8-0, the Mustangs (5-3 overall) sent 13 batters to the plate in the seventh against West (1-7). Bobby Dominguez, who had a two-run double early in the rally, ended the game when his two-out grounder went past the third baseman for an error, allowing Scott Yetter and Scott Earnest to score from second and first.
Redondo 8, South Torrance 4--Ian Martin homered and pitcher Mike Houck picked up his fourth win without a loss as the Sea Hawks cruised in an Ocean League opener at South.
Martin, who hit a solo shot in the second inning, his second homer of the year, went 2 for 4 with two RBIs. Brian Davison and Robbie Zeller collected two hits each for Redondo (5-4 overall), which built an 8-2 lead through six innings. Houck, a senior right-hander, gave up four runs (three earned) through six innings.
North Torrance 8, Morningside 4--Brian Dessert had three hits, four RBIs, three runs scored and three stolen bases to help the Saxons (2-5-1) to their second straight victory in an Ocean League opener at Morningside. North finished with 10 hits and nine steals.