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PREP WRAPUP / ROB FERNAS : El Segundo Rallies to Snatch Another Title Game From St. Bernard, 8-6

Tate Seefried has played only one season for El Segundo High’s baseball team, but already he understands what others have known for years.

“This school is a comeback school,” he said.

The Eagles proved it again Friday, rallying for three runs in the top of the seventh inning to erase a 6-5 deficit and pull out an 8-6 victory over St. Bernard in a showdown for the Camino Real League title at Loyola Marymount.

It marked the second consecutive year that St. Bernard took a lead into the last inning of the final game of the season, only to have El Segundo snatch the championship from the Vikings.

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Last season, the Eagles scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth for a 6-5 victory after St. Bernard had gone ahead, 5-3, with two runs in the top of the inning.

And, like last season, the Eagles finished with a 13-1 league record, a game ahead of 12-2 St. Bernard.

St. Bernard Coach Bob Yarnall is beginning to wonder what it takes to beat El Segundo. He is 0-4 against El Segundo since the Eagles joined the Camino Real League in 1989. Before that, the Vikings had won the title three consecutive years.

“I can take (losing) 5-0, but I can’t take this,” he said. “It’s very frustrating when you come back and take the lead, and then lose it.”

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Seefried, the Eagles’ senior right-hander, was ahead, 5-0, until St. Bernard scored six runs in the sixth. Jeff Richardson’s three-run homer to left-center field was the big hit. But only two of the Vikings’ runs in the inning were earned because of two errors by the usually reliable El Segundo infield.

Second baseman Eric Stevenson booted a potential double-play ball and third baseman Brett Newell overthrew first after fielding a ground ball. Both errors came with no outs.

Stevenson, son of Coach John Stevenson, helped atone for the error in the seventh.

He completed a 4-for-4 day with a looping single into right field that moved Kenny Talanoa from first to third. Talanoa ended up scoring the tying run on the play when shortstop Sean Dunbar threw the relay wide of third and into the St. Bernard dugout.

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Two batters later, Newell, who is Coach Stevenson’s godson, drove in Stevenson with the winning run on a two-out single up the middle.

It was just another comeback in Stevenson’s 31 years of coaching.

“I like to think that’s a characteristic of our team,” he said. “It’s just something about El Segundo kids. It’s a little school with a lot of heart.”

El Segundo (24-3), the defending Southern Section 2-A champion, will almost certainly be seeded No. 1 for the playoffs and draw a bye for Friday’s first round. The Eagles are assured of a home game for the second round May 22.

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St. Bernard (17-6) will either be home or away for its playoff opener, depending on the result of a coin flip.

It’s safe to assume the Vikings don’t want to see El Segundo catcher Garret Quaintance any more this season. In two games against St. Bernard, Quaintance is 5 for 6 with three home runs and four RBIs. He hit a solo homer Friday to left-center field in the fifth inning.

Center fielder John Coleman almost made a leaping catch of Quaintance’s homer at the wall, but the ball tipped off his glove.

Morningside center Lisa Leslie, the nation’s most sought-after schoolgirl basketball player, said she will announce her college choice Monday.

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Sources said the 6-foot-5 Leslie favors signing with Cal State Long Beach, but her mother, Christine, wants her to attend USC.

When asked about the reports, Leslie said: “I don’t know if I should say anything about that. (My mother) doesn’t say I can’t go (to Long Beach). But I listen to her advice. I always have.”

Leslie, who help Morningside win the past two State Division I titles, originally planned to sign on Thursday.

Mira Costa began its run at the Southern Section 4-A boys’ volleyball title Friday night by brushing aside Dos Pueblos of Goleta, 15-4, 15-5, 15-6, in the first round of the playoffs at Mira Costa.

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The top-seeded Mustangs (19-0) will travel to face Newport Harbor (11-5) in the quarterfinals Friday night. Newport Harbor, the Seaview League runner-up, advanced with a victory over Bay League champion Leuzinger.

“That’s OK. Our players are used to playing on the road,” Coach Mike Cook said. “We’ll go to anybody’s home court and play with them.”

USC-bound middle blocker Pat Ivie led Mira Costa’s attack with 19 serving points in 26 attempts, including five aces.

“It was practically as if he were spiking,” Cook said of Ivie’s effective jump serve.

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The 6-5 Ivie also had eight kills in 14 attempts and played an excellent passing game. Outside hitter David Swatik led the Mustangs with 15 kills in 18 attempts. Setter Canyon Ceman had 43 assists and six blocks.

Despite the runaway victory, Cook said the Mustangs can play better.

“We were dominating, and yet I don’t think we played a magnificent match,” he said. “At times I thought we were chugging a bit. But that’s OK. We don’t want our best match yet. We have three more to go.”

Remember when the South Bay, particularly the schools on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, produced some of the most dominant boys’ tennis teams in Southern California?

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Miraleste, Rolling Hills and Palos Verdes combined to capture six Southern Section major division titles from 1968-84, and South Bay teams were division runners-up six times from 1975-86.

But in the past few years, the area has gone without a champion.

Only one South Bay school is ranked in a Southern Section divisional poll entering the team playoffs Tuesday. Redondo, ranked 10th in the 3-A Division, recently captured its second consecutive Ocean League title and owns a league winning streak of 23 consecutive matches.

However, Coach Ted Atteberry said the Sea Hawks (14-4) are a long shot for the 3-A title. They open the playoffs at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday at home against Rio Hondo League runner-up La Canada (14-6).

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“We’re not one of the best teams in the 3-A,” Atteberry said. “We have a bunch of overachieving kids.”

The best of the bunch are singles players Jeff Steinberg and Harry Seltzer. They led Redondo to a 12-0 league mark--Steinberg was 33-3 and Seltzer was 31-5--and each qualified for Saturday’s CIF sectionals by being the top two finishers Friday at the Ocean League individual playoffs.

Atteberry said another reason for Redondo’s success has been the consistent play of its doubles teams.

San Pedro’s softball team and Coach Tony Dobra will meet an old nemesis Wednesday when the Pirates travel to face top-seeded El Camino Real of Woodland Hills in the quarterfinals of the L.A. City Section 4-A playoffs.

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San Pedro has lost to El Camino Real the past three years in the playoffs. The Conquistadors beat the Pirates in the 1987 semifinals, 1-0, in the 1988 finals, 5-0, and in last year’s finals, 1-0.

Dobra, in his fourth year as coach, said unlike past years, San Pedro has nothing to lose this time because it is a heavy underdog.

“There won’t be as much pressure on us,” he said.

The Pirates, third-place finishers in the Pacific League, upset Birmingham of Van Nuys, 13-5, in the first round Wednesday as sophomore catcher Melissa Elgin went 5 for 5 with a home run and two RBIs. She also threw out five runners.

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“In 10 years of coaching, I haven’t seen too many players have a game like that,” Dobra said.


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