AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL NOTEBOOK : Conduct of Sepulveda Repulsed Its Coach
Sepulveda made a quick exit from the American Legion Area 6 playoffs last week at Moorpark College--almost as fast as its coach’s departure after a controversial 6-5 loss to Westchester on Saturday.
Sepulveda, the District 20 champion, lost its first two games of the double-elimination tournament, stranding 23 baserunners in 19 innings. Yet it was a baserunner who was not stranded that caused Coach P.C. Shaw’s hurried departure.
After blowing a 5-3 lead in the ninth and surrendering another run in the top of the 10th, Sepulveda mounted a rally in its half of the 10th. Justin Bass doubled to lead off the inning and Andy Shaw followed with a sacrifice bunt.
Westchester pitcher Brian Berri fielded the bunt and threw to third base, where Bass appeared to have beaten the tag. However, Bass was called out, prompting an uproar from the Sepulveda bench.
Pitcher Kevin Grant and Bass immediately were ejected for use of profanity, joining teammates Geoff Taylor and Brent Polacheck, who earlier were ejected for similar language.
Although Shaw stole second and Chris Portugal reached first on a two-out walk, Sepulveda (22-8) could not capitalize in the 10th and was eliminated.
But the fireworks had just begun.
Embarrassed by the unsportsmanlike display of the Sepulveda players and fans, P.C. Shaw left the premises moments after the final out. He missed the sideshow in the Moorpark College parking lot where a group of enraged Sepulveda parents verbally accosted the two umpires who worked the game.
One neutral fan who witnessed the scene in the parking lot described it as “very ugly.”
“Everything we accomplished this year with the season, being a first-year team and winning the district title and all, was washed away,” P.C. Shaw said. “I was really left with a bad taste in my mouth.”
Shaw, 22, said that even though the out call at third appeared incorrect, the 10th-inning ejections that followed left him “totally embarrassed.”
“There’s no question that our kids got carried away,” Shaw said.
Reports of the parking lot incident filtered back to Shaw. One Sepulveda parent reportedly barked to the base umpire, “You don’t deserve to live.” By Monday, Shaw seemed to have regained his sense of humor.
“He doesn’t deserve to live? That seems a little harsh,” Shaw said, laughing. “But maybe he doesn’t deserve to umpire.”
Honored: Conejo’s four-game sweep for the Area 6 championship last week was characterized by exceptional efforts from several players, which made choosing a most valuable player difficult.
Tournament officials decided on Conejo shortstop Bryan Corey, however, noting his consistent defensive play. Corey, who will attend Washington State in the fall, made only one error in the tournament. He was five for 13 with four runs and four runs batted in, and he reached base in 10 of 18 plate appearances.
Name the big leaguer: This former District 20 star had an up-and-down career, but one thing that was consistently “up” was his velocity on the speed gun.
One of the hardest throwing right-handers ever produced in the Valley area, this player was the Don of a new area in Sunland.
He might be the largest player from the area ever to wear a major league uniform, and he wore three of a different color before his career ended because of injury in 1986.
He is perhaps best known for saving wins in the Windy City. (Answer below).
Career change: Gino Tagliaferri, six months removed from pro baseball, is making another transition.
The former Kennedy High standout, a fourth-round draft choice of the Detroit Tigers in 1989, has gone into a profession that, in light of the economic climate, could prove as difficult as hitting a slider in the dirt.
Tagliaferri and two partners have opened TNT Sporting Goods, located just around the corner from Kennedy on the corner of Woodley Avenue and San Fernando Mission Boulevard.
Opening day, so to speak, is Saturday.
“It’s a little easier (than baseball) and a little harder in some ways,” said Tagliaferri, 20, who voluntarily retired from pro baseball in the spring, citing burnout and disenchantment with the way he was treated by the Detroit organization. “It’s been a real pain to get everything going.”
Tagliaferri was a pain to area pitchers for three seasons at Kennedy. He led the state in homers with 13 as a senior and was selected the City Section 4-A Division’s most valuable player after Kennedy won the 4-A title.
Tagliaferri made a debut of a different sort this summer as coach of the Granada Hills East Legion team, which finished 12-11. He plans to continue coaching the team next summer.
Coaching, too, was a change of pace.
“Not everybody on the team took it seriously,” said Tagliaferri, who was known for his combative and aggressive nature as a player. “That is, until I chewed some butt.
“Coaching can be real frustrating at times, because you really wish you were in their shoes, that you could step in there and hit for them.”
Add changes: Legion officials are contemplating a move that would establish UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Stadium as the permanent site of the Area 6 playoffs. The proposal is subject to the final approval of member districts 16, 20 and 24.
The Area 6 tournament was held at Jackie Robinson Stadium last summer. The site is currently rotated among the districts which Area 6 comprises. District 16 served as host of the tournament last weekend at Moorpark College.
Approval from the districts, according to one official, is a foregone conclusion.
Mr. July: Woodland Hills West third baseman Greg Lederman has been there before, which is perhaps the best way to explain how he managed to raze so many pitchers in postseason play.
Lederman was a combined 26 for 49 in 12 postseason games and drove in 16 runs. Lederman and Sean Boldt were the lone remaining players from West’s Legion World Series championship team of 1989.
“We work too hard to give up easy,” said Lederman, who graduated from El Camino Real High last month.
Don’t be too surprised if West makes a strong playoff showing next summer. Twelve players on the roster have Legion eligibility remaining, including four pitchers.
Add Woodland Hills: How much energy does West pitcher Sean Boldt have?
“If you could hook up an extension cord to that kid, you could light up a town,” said Conejo Coach Craig Sturges after the Area 6 playoffs. “He’s got energy to burn.”
And then some. Boldt pitched seven innings against Conejo on Saturday, allowing no earned runs on four hits. He started in center field in West’s second game of the day, which started 45 minutes after the completion of the Conejo loss.
After the game, Boldt was spotted running from the West dugout to the parking lot--a distance of several hundred yards--because Boldt thought he was about to miss his ride home.
Duffel bag slung over his shoulder, Boldt arrived in the parking lot only to learn that the player with whom he expected to catch a ride, pitcher Terry Morrow, was still back in the dugout.
So Boldt ran back.
Quiz answer: Bob James pitched with the Verdugo Hills Legion team until he signed a professional contract. In 1976, at age 17, he was selected in the first round by the Montreal Expos.
James (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) played for the Chicago White Sox, Montreal Expos and Detroit Tigers in his eight-year career, which ended when he tore a muscle in his back in 1986.
His best season came with the Sox in 1985 when he was 8-7 and recorded 32 saves. In his career, James was 24-26 with 73 saves.
He graduated from Verdugo Hills High in 1976 and was an All-City Section selection.
James was quite a hitter as a youngster, when he was a pitcher and catcher. He reportedly hit 23 home runs in 27 games as a 12-year-old in the Tujunga Little League.