Blyleven Enjoys Separate, but Not Equal Season

Todd Blyleven has learned the importance of separating things during his sophomore season at Cypress.

And as a result, he is having an outstanding season. Blyleven has a 6-2 record and an earned-run average of 1.17.

The biggest separation he has made is from about 35 pounds. He has changed his eating habits, is working out almost all the time, and is generally feeling better about everything.

Blyleven, who is 6 feet 5, spent most of his freshman season gaining weight and was close to 250 pounds in early June, when Cypress won the state title.

But Cypress wasn't Blyleven's first choice in colleges last season.

He had first signed to play at Cal State Fullerton after graduating from Villa Park in 1990. But when Titan Coach Larry Cochell and pitching coach Vern Ruhle switched to Oklahoma, Blyleven did, too.

He didn't adjust well to life in Norman, however, and decided to come home. Blyleven, 19, is a year younger than most college sophomores because he skipped third grade.

"My parents had always been on my case about running and staying in shape," he said. "But before this year, I've never taken it very seriously. I guess I just finally got sick of it (being out of shape)."

Fortunately for Todd, he could learn by example. His father, Bert Blyleven, a pitcher with the Angels, was spending the summer rehabilitating after major shoulder surgery.

For Todd, it was a chance to spend the summer working out with his father, who had always been away playing baseball before.

"Something just clicked inside me that it was time to get serious about being in shape," Todd said. "I just realized that I could no longer get by on talent alone. . . . It was great getting to spend that time with my father. I would push him and he would push me, but he pushed me more."

Todd Blyleven is throwing harder this season and is much more confident than when he was 6-4 with a 4.03 ERA as a freshman.

Blyleven throws a fastball, a changeup and a curve, and his control has improved since the start of the season. He has struck out 53 and allowed 48 hits in 61 1/3 innings. The opposition is hitting .216 against him.

Last season, he allowed 85 hits in 80 2/3 innings and opponents hit .263.

"It's been impressive how hard he works," Cypress Coach Scott Pickler said. "He's a great example for the freshmen this year. He's just been outstanding."

After his most recent start, Blyleven found the newspapers also made a separation for him.

He threw a five-hitter to beat Orange Coast, 6-1. The next day, there was no mention of his father in the stories about the game.

"A friend came up to tell me that I was in the paper and my dad wasn't," Blyleven said. "I don't mind being mentioned with my father. That's a great honor. But I can't go out there as Bert Blyleven's son. I have to go out there as Todd Blyleven."

Blyleven, like most successful baseball players, will face a major decision this June. He will have to choose between college and professional baseball.

Blyleven is being recruited by Fresno State and Oklahoma (again), among others. Plus, he is currently under obligation to the Dodgers, who drafted him last June with plans to follow him this season and possibly make an offer to sign him. If the Dodgers don't make an offer, then he will return to the draft pool.

"A few weeks ago," Blyleven said. "I was really bugging my mom because I was trying to make a decision. Now, I'm just going to relax and wait until the end of the season."

Bob Van Voorhis, the women's basketball coach at Cypress, has stepped down. Van Voorhis had a record of 8-74 in three seasons as a walk-on coach.

Van Voorhis coached various sports at Fullerton High School for 20 years before coming to Cypress. The search for a walk-on replacement will start immediately, according to Athletic Director Larry Mercadante.

Baseball update: Two-time defending champion Rancho Santiago (16-7-1, 9-3-1 in conference) leads the Orange Empire Conference baseball race.

Riverside (18-7, 9-4) is in second place, Saddleback (11-10-2, 7-7-1) is third, Orange Coast (12-8, 6-7) fourth, Fullerton (13-12-1, 6-8) fifth, Cypress (17-12, 6-9) sixth and Golden West (11-12-1, 4-9) seventh.

Aaron Butler of Rancho Santiago is the conference's leading hitter at .436 (24 of 55). Fullerton's Mark Rushlow leads in home runs with seven and Cypress' Kevin Clark is tops in RBIs with 28.

Blyleven (6-2) and Mike Fontana (6-0) of Rancho Santiago are tied for most victories. David Goldstein of Rancho Santiago has a conference-high 57 strikeouts.

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