The shiny new placards hang on the left-field fence at Kennedy High, where home runs once flew with regularity. One for each City Section title, which came at four-year intervals in 1981, 1985 and 1989.
With four sophomores on the Kennedy roster this year--all played Thursday--winning again in 1993 certainly is within the realm of possibility. Meanwhile, however, the learning process continues, this time at the hands of more grizzled Poly.
The Parrots, who handed host Kennedy an 8-5 loss in a second-round game of the San Fernando tournament, are experiencing no such growing pains.
"We hit the ball better today than we did yesterday," said Troy Bourne, one of just five Kennedy seniors. "This team's a bunch of gamers, especially all the rookies."
Yet rookies sometimes play that way, and even Bourne found himself caught up in the mistakes. Poly (2-0) cashed in most of its early chances and then rode out the late rough spots.
Poly jumped to an 8-1 lead through four innings against the right-handed Bourne, who made his first varsity pitching start. He didn't help his cause with a pair of throwing errors that contributed to two first-inning runs for Poly.
Kennedy (0-2) rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh on run-scoring singles by Darrin McCall (three hits) and Jeff Brown, moving within 8-5. But with two runners on base, senior right-hander Robert Barron retired Joe Bernas and Bourne, both of whom stepped to the plate as the potential tying run.
"It was great to see the kid come in there and get the outs," Poly Coach Jerry Cord said of Barron, who relieved starter Eric Diaz in the fifth. "Bourne's a good hitter and a tough out."
This time, though, it was just tough luck. Bourne, the team's leading returning hitter, stranded seven baserunners and finished zero for five. Kennedy had 11 hits, including three from junior shortstop Billy Ramirez, but stranded 11 runners in seven innings.
Poly's senior-laden lineup came out pinging. Robert Aros, Marlon McKinney and Raul Torres each had two hits and Jonathan Campbell, Adolfo Rocha and Rodrigo Dorame each added one.
Don't think Cord doesn't know what kind of talent he has to work with. Poly entered the City Section 4-A Division playoffs last season as the top-seeded team and might have the personnel to repeat the feat. After Diaz retired the final Kennedy batter in the first, third and seventh and innings, the normally stoic Cord let out a yelp and pumped a fist in the air. Players chuckled.
With Poly leading, 2-0, with one on and two out in the second, Campbell, Aros and McKinney banged out consecutive singles for a 4-0 lead. After Dorame drew a walk to load the bases, Bourne hit Torres in the rump with a pitch to force in a fifth run.
Poly put Bourne away in the fourth. McKinney led off with a rocket that cleared the head of Kennedy center fielder John Davis and rolled to the fence. McKinney easily circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run.
Dorame followed with a single, Torres doubled off the fence in left and Jesus Perez singled home Dorame for a 7-1 lead. Steve Chavez drove in Torres from third with a sacrifice fly.
Kennedy received a strong relief outing from senior right-hander Cody Beaumaster, who pitched the final 3 1/3 innings, allowed one hit and struck out four. Beaumaster, who experienced shoulder trouble during the fall-league season, pitched a scoreless 1 1/3 innings of relief on Wednesday.
* OTHER SAN FERNANDO TOURNAMENT GAMES: C14