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Pitcher Lorraine Has Hart Covered as Playoffs Begin

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Andrew Lorraine, aspiring journalist and overpowering senior left-hander for Hart High, knows news when he sees it.

Especially when he makes it.

“I’ve always loved to write,” Lorraine says. “I’d like to write for a paper or a magazine--just go out and investigate a subject and write about it.”

All of which made for interesting reading when Lorraine, then an under-powering sophomore, covered the Indians as a reporter for the campus newspaper, The Smoke Signal.

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Although he logged only two innings that season, Lorraine, pad and pencil in hand, never missed a pitch while Hart roared to a 26-1 record and a No. 1 national ranking by at least one publication--not including accolades bestowed by The Smoke Signal.

When the school newspaper folded because of financial woes, Lorraine’s literary talents were featured in the school yearbook, for which he recounted the team’s ascent last season to the Southern Section 4-A Division championship game at Dodger Stadium.

By that time, however, Lorraine was part Roger Kahn, part Roger Clemens. He was 9-5 as a junior and pitched a complete game as Hart lost to Cerritos, 4-1, at Dodger Stadium.

“It was hard to write about the team I was on,” he said. “It was hard for me not to write about myself when we got into the playoffs. I mean, I pitched every game.”

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Objectivity be damned, read all about it. It doesn’t take an investigative reporter to discover that Lorraine--this season in particular--is news that’s fit to print.

Lorraine (6-foot-3, 190 pounds) has the most impressive statistics among area pitchers. He is 8-0 with an 0.57 earned-run average, and his 121 strikeouts are tops in the area. In 72 2/3 innings over 18 appearances, he has yielded only 31 hits with 27 walks and has allowed only nine runs, six earned.

He also has five complete games, six saves and an acute awareness of the local media’s coverage of the Indians, including the names and duties of several sportswriters.

“I think nowadays high school sports are really magnified,” he said. “I don’t object to it at all, but I don’t go around looking for (publicity). It’s here.”

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Lorraine subscribes to three local newspapers at home and one philosophy on the mound.

“I like to consider myself a tough SOB on the hill,” he said. “I want people to look at me and not want to go up there. That’s the most important thing I’ve developed about the way I pitch--besides my physical tools.”

Lorraine, talented and tenacious--"a bulldog,” Hart Coach Bud Murray says--is scheduled to start today as No. 1-ranked Hart (22-1-2) opens the 4-A playoffs against visiting Claremont.

Other Indian pitchers also have been outstanding. The staff, which includes senior right-hander Kevin Foderaro (8-0, 3.34 ERA) and junior right-hander Keith Halcovich (5-1, 1.51), has 10 complete games and a 1.68 ERA. It pitched Hart to a Foothill League title with a 15-0 record.

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“We thought the pitching would be good,” Foderaro said. “We thought it would be a little better than last year.”

Lorraine has been the best. His fastball, clocked in excess of 85 m.p.h, is skillfully deposited in every corner of the strike zone. “A lot of guys throw the ball hard, but they throw the ball straight,” Lorraine noted.

His curve is “right there with the best I’ve ever seen,” Murray said. “He has great movement on his ball and he knows what he wants to do. His fastball sinks sometimes, it runs sometimes. And his curveball really bites when he gets on top of it.”

Lorraine’s personality--he’s articulate, thoughtful and refreshingly mature for a 17-year-old--qualifies him for “Most Popular” honors in the school yearbook. His 3.8 grade-point average in advanced-placement classes such as physics, calculus, English composition and Spanish, earns him consideration for “Most Likely to Succeed.”

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“I really like Andrew,” Murray said. “He’s a great kid. He doesn’t flaunt what he can do, but he believes he can do it. That’s a great quality.”

Signed, sealed and soon to be delivered to Stanford on a full baseball scholarship, Lorraine, who plans to major in communications, will study bylines and headlines between sliders and off-speed offerings. He should fare well at both.

“He’s going to come in and help us immediately as a freshman, which is unusual,” Stanford Coach Mark Marquess said. “The good thing about him is that he’s not a one-pitch pitcher, and that’s how most high school pitchers are. We’re just really thrilled to have him.”

Lorraine interviews well--on both sides of the reporter’s notebook. He seems to ask as many questions as he answers, displaying curiosity conducive to a career in journalism. Lorraine even queried his physics teacher this season on the hows and whys concerning the rotation of a left-hander’s pitches versus those of a right-hander.

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“I just wanted to know if he knew a reason why,” he said.

On his pitching, Lorraine remarked that there’s “always room for improvement.” He said the same for his writing, although others are more encouraging.

“I would see him as a great sportswriter,” said Lori Huenink, Lorraine’s English teacher. “He has a great perception of his sport and he’s articulate enough to express it. He goes beyond a subject and gives it a twist that makes it his.”

Lorraine always has been handy with a pen. “I think it all came from when I was in the sixth grade and I had a creative writing class and I used to write a lot of weird stories,” he said. “I’d get some weird ideas in my head.”

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His talent as a pitcher, however, has developed more slowly. Lorraine began pitching as a freshman and didn’t show strength until last season. On the mound, he wasn’t so much a “tough SOB” as he was mentally AWOL.

“There was a time there when he wasn’t all that tough,” Murray said. “He’s had to battle through that. Instead of walking around the mound worrying, he has met it head-on. But he’s been reminded about that.”

Last year, Lorraine had 101 strikeouts and a 2.18 ERA in 93 innings to go with his 9-5 record. Contrary to his statement above, Lorraine pitched in only four of Hart’s five postseason games last season--an inexcusable factual error among journalists, but give him a break. His media career--although still unfocused--looks promising.

“It’s a really broad field, all of communications is,” Lorraine said. “Right now, I haven’t really narrowed it down.”

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Narrowing his choice of colleges was a task in itself. Lorraine also received scholarship offers from Cal and USC, and attracted the interest of Arizona State, Loyola Marymount and UCLA.

Call it the hunch of a journalist, but Lorraine chose Stanford in favor of USC on a “gut feeling.”

One trip to Palo Alto had Lorraine hooked.

“When I went there, I could see myself there,” Lorraine said. “It was a matter of the scholarship and the program and where I thought I could fit in. But far and above, the people were really great. I couldn’t picture myself in any other place.”

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Not even a major league dugout. Lorraine likely would be an early-round pick in next month’s amateur draft even though his decision to sign with Stanford has discouraged professional scouts.

Still, he has received letters from several clubs, including the Astros, Expos, Mets, Twins and Orioles. For the record, he’s going to college.

“I want to get a degree,” he said. “I want to know that if something happens to me, I still have a degree.”

A degree will prove useful--after a professional baseball career. Ideally, Lorraine said, one will follow the other. And neither likely will go unnoticed.

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