PREP NOTES / ROB FERNAS : Palos Verdes Will Give Opponents Fitz

During Harry Jenkins' final season as Redondo High baseball coach in 1988, he saw enough talent in freshman pitcher Brian Fitzgerald to bring him up for a brief stint on the varsity team.

Three school years later, it appears they will be reunited.

Fitzgerald, considered among the South Bay's top pitchers, has transferred to Palos Verdes for his senior year. Jenkins, one of the South Bay's all-time winningest coaches during his 19-year career at Redondo, said he will work as an assistant under veteran Sea King Coach Gil Eberhard.

"Harry and I have talked about it and he's going to help me as much as he can," Eberhard said. "I'm not one to turn down that kind of help."

Jenkins said he is looking forward to returning to prep coaching. He spent the past two years building up his real estate development company.

"The business stuff I wanted to do I've gotten out of the way," he said. "I've always liked high school coaching, but I needed to find something that was convenient for my work schedule. I think it's going to be fun."

The addition of Fitzgerald, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound right-hander who pitched well last summer for the star-studded Mary Star Connie Mack team, should make Palos Verdes a strong contender for the Ocean League title next spring. Also, the Sea Kings return All-South Bay pitcher-first baseman Pat O'Hara.

"I'd rate (Fitzgerald) one of the top three pitchers in the area," said Redondo Coach Tim Ammentorp, who wasn't surprised by the transfer.

"I was fairly certain he wasn't coming back," he said. "We talked about it at the end of last year. He was saying he might not be back in the program and I said, 'That's up to you.' No coach likes to lose a player like that, but apparently today it's shop for places to play."

Fitzgerald missed the first half of last season with arm and back injuries. Once he returned, however, he performed well. He struck out 13 batters against Leuzinger and pitched a 1-0 victory over Mira Costa.

"When he got healthy, he was dominating," Ammentorp said.

Jenkins, a business associate and close friend of Fitzgerald's mother, said the young pitcher has great potential.

"He's a late bloomer," said Jenkins, who developed several outstanding pitchers at Redondo, including two-time CIF Player of the Year Scott Davison and first-round draft pick Wayne Wilson. "He's got a good fastball and good breaking pitches--a curveball and split-finger (fastball). If he develops as I think he should, he will be a pretty good pitcher."

As could be expected, Eberhard is delighted with his good fortune.

"For me, it's a heck of a plus," he said.

It will be interesting when Palos Verdes and Redondo meet in Ocean League games next spring.

There was no love lost between Jenkins and Redondo when he left the school after the 1988 season. He had requested a leave of absence to pursue business interests, but was turned down by Redondo. The school then hired Ammentorp.

Jenkins, though, says he doesn't harbor any ill feelings.

"I've mellowed a little since then," he said. "There's no bitterness. I asked for a leave of absence and they didn't give it to me. I understood their position."

Still, some people are bound to believe Jenkins orchestrated Fitzgerald's transfer.

Jenkins says nothing could be further from the truth.

"This is something Brian and his mother planned to do," he said. "I had nothing to do with it."

In the two years he was away from prep baseball, Jenkins said he talked with several schools about coaching jobs, but nothing worked out.

He turned down an offer to take over the South Torrance program, and he talked with Culver City and Bishop Montgomery when coaching jobs opened up. Bishop Montgomery recently hired Rudy Garbalosa, an assistant coach for the past four years, to replace Bob Anderson, who resigned last summer.

Anderson is now working as an assistant coach at Harbor College.

"It was totally up to me," Anderson said of his decision to step down after four years as Bishop Montgomery's coach. "Under no circumstances was I forced out. I just decided to explore other avenues."

However, it was rumored as far back as last season that Anderson would not return as coach. At the time, Bishop Montgomery denied the reports.

But Athletic Director Steve Carroll said it was important to get a baseball coach who was also a full-time teacher. Anderson was a walk-on.

"Any time we can get a coach on campus, it makes it a lot easier for everyone involved," Carroll said. "Not that walk-ons don't do a fantastic job for us, but it's much more beneficial for us to have a full-time guy on campus."

This is the first head coaching job for Garbalosa, a former standout player at Bishop Montgomery and Cal State Long Beach.

Several of the best girls' volleyball teams in Southern California will compete in the first Costa/Redondo Power Classic on Friday and Saturday at Redondo High.

The 12-team field includes the top four teams ranked in the CIF-Southern Section 5-A Division coaches' poll (Mira Costa, Laguna Beach, Corona del Mar and Thousand Oaks), the top-ranked 4-A team (Long Beach Jordan), and the top team from the San Diego Section (Poway).

Other participants are Santa Barbara (ranked No. 7 in 5-A), El Toro (No. 8 in 5-A), Santa Monica, Bishop Montgomery, South Torrance and Redondo.

Friday's qualifying round, starting at 3 p.m., consists of best-of-three-game match play. Saturday's championship round consists of best-of-five-game matches, with the semifinals scheduled for 11 a.m. and the final at 7 p.m.

The tournament is sponsored by Asics Tiger Corp.

The Palos Verdes girls' cross-country team placed first Saturday at the Clovis Invitational at Woodward Park in Fresno, site of the state championship meet. Coach Joe Kelly's Sea Kings won the large-school division title with 46 points, followed by Arroyo Grande with 59.

Maya Muneno was the top individual finisher for Palos Verdes, placing fourth with a time of 19 minutes, 23 seconds over the three-mile course.

Palos Verdes is No. 2 in the Southern Section Division I rankings behind Agoura.

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