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Onetime Teammates Relinquish Scholarships to Gain Playing Time : College baseball: Moorpark College products Suarez, Berman transfer to Cal Lutheran after riding the bench at Division I schools.

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mike Suarez and Jeff Berman hope to someday play baseball for pay, but for now they are willing to pay to play.

The former Moorpark College teammates have both decided to forgo scholarships at NCAA Division I schools and have transferred to nonscholarship Cal Lutheran in hopes of gaining more playing time and exposure for the draft.

Suarez, formerly of Westlake High, said Wednesday that he is relinquishing his partial scholarship at Arizona.

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“I was getting a lot of money, but I want to play baseball,” Suarez said.

Berman, formerly of Newbury Park High, left San Jose State for Cal Lutheran.

Suarez and Berman were two of the best players on Moorpark’s 1990 Western State Conference tri-champion team, but neither had a satisfying season this spring. Berman took a redshirt year after hurting his right (throwing) shoulder, and Suarez had only 40 at-bats at Arizona.

“I had a rough season at Arizona,” said Suarez, who batted .250 as a pinch-hitter and infielder. “It was just frustrating. This was my year that I wanted to get drafted.”

Suarez batted .395 with 13 doubles in 1990 and set a Moorpark single-season record with seven home runs. He spent his freshman season at Valley and will be attending his fourth college in four years.

“I got my bags,” said Suarez, who hopes to play second base, his Moorpark position, or third at Cal Lutheran. He played shortstop in high school.

Berman went to San Jose State on a partial scholarship but hurt his arm and did not pitch an inning.

“I just didn’t think I was going to be a big part of the program. I think I could do a lot more for Cal Lutheran than I could for San Jose State,” said Berman, who has two years of eligibility left. “I just want to throw the ball. It’s been a long time.”

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Berman was 9-2 with 64 strikeouts at Moorpark in 1990. He and Suarez, both first-team All-WSC selections, will join former Moorpark teammate Darin Furlong at Cal Lutheran.

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