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Tellers Keeps It Nice and Simple

Times Staff Writer

Dave Tellers stood, his powerful right arm encased in ice, under the bright lights at UC Irvine’s Anteater Field and tried to explain his remarkable pitching this season.

Tellers, a junior at San Jose State, had just beaten Irvine, 7-1, in the Big West Conference for both teams Friday night. Once again, he had been masterful in improving his record to 11-0.

For 6 1/3 innings, he had a no-hitter, which is about the only thing missing from his sterling debut season in Division I play. Tellers finished Friday’s performance by going nine innings and allowing two hits--back-to-back seeing-eye singles in the sixth--and generally messing things up for the Irvine hitters.

Tellers was never overpowering, just hard to figure. And that has been his trademark since he pitched for Western High School from 1984-86. He moved on to Rancho Santiago College and last season earned All-Orange Empire Conference honors with an 11-2 record.

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“I’ve been a success all my life,” Tellers said. “I’m basically doing all the same things I did back at Western. I didn’t have the split-finger (fastball) in high school. I wish I did. I’ve always been an offspeed pitcher. Nothing’s really changed.”

Except that this isn’t the Orange League that Tellers is tearing up these days.

He beat Nevada Reno in the Spartans’ opener Jan. 27 and has victories against Stanford and California. Irvine was just the latest victim.

He had five strikeouts and two walks against the Anteaters. The only hits came on a chopper that shortstop Al Rodriguez beat over the head of third baseman Greg Mitchell and a looper by Freddie Combs that fell in front of right fielder John Bracken.

Irvine’s only run came on a walk, an error, another walk and a fielder’s choice in the fourth inning.

All things considered, it has been an astounding season for a pitcher nobody seemed to want coming out of Rancho Santiago.

"(Rancho Santiago Coach) Don Sneddon called me about him in October of ’87,” San Jose State Coach Sam Piraro said. “He said, ‘I’ve got a guy who’s maybe going to get overlooked.’ I respect his opinion.”

Still, Tellers wasn’t entirely sold on San Jose.

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But Piraro told him he’d “pitch a lot” and help turn around the Spartans’ baseball fortunes. Tellers has done both. His next victory will tie a school-record for victories in a season and the Spartans are off to their best season in ages.

San Jose (27-6 overall, 1-0 in Big West play) is ranked 17th in the Baseball America poll.

“I knew a lot of schools were looking for the over 6-foot guys who throw 90 m.p.h. fastballs,” said Tellers, who stands 5-11. “I’ve always been a finesse pitcher.”

“We felt he would be our hard-luck pitcher,” Piraro said. “We’ve been shocked. He’s drawn all the tough assignments. He’s gone up against all the other teams’ No. 1 pitchers.”

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In another Big West Conference baseball game:

Cal State Fullerton 2, University of the Pacific 0--Huck Flener (8-0) gave up three hits and stuck out five in 8 2/3 innings for Fullerton (20-10 overall) in the conference opener at Titan Field. Chris Robinson got his second save.

In California Collegiate Athletic Assn. baseball:

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 11, Chapman College 3--The Panthers led, 2-1, after four innings but San Luis Obispo scored eight runs in the fifth at Hart Park in Orange.

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