Venice Baseball Team Making a Pitch for Playoff Berth : Preps: The Gondoliers, with a 10-4 record the Western League, are one of the surprise performers in City play.


The Venice High baseball team, with a shortage of experienced pitchers going into the season, was expected to be in a mound of trouble in the Western League.

Coach Kirk Alexander even told his team that it would have to pull together in other areas to be competitive.

But pitching quickly became a strength.

Seniors Carlos Chavez, DeAntwan Young, Dan Soto and junior Tony Temblador have been the leaders of a staff that has made Venice one of the surprise teams in the City.


“Alexander told us that our pitching will be weak,” said Chavez, Venice’s only experienced pitcher from last season’s team. “But once we started playing games, it wasn’t like that because our pitching has held up all year.”

With a 10-4 conference record, Venice opened the week in second place in the Western League. With two weeks to play in the regular season, the Gondoliers are in good position to earn a playoff berth.

“I was very leery of our pitching before the season,” said Alexander, who has been the coach at Venice since 1988. “But it’s ended up being our strongest point. Our pitchers have really come through.”

Chavez (4-2) leads the team in earned-run average and Young (5-4) leads the team in strikeouts.

“It’s been great having them out there because we know that we will be in every game,” senior Miguel Chacon said. “We know that we’re going to get seven strong innings from our pitchers.”

A late-season surprise has been Temblador, who was the winning pitch in the Gondoliers’ victory over first-place Westchester. It was the Comets’ only loss.


“Yes, I am surprised with how well I have been doing as a starter,” said Temblador, who is batting .379. “I had only been a reliever, and the Westchester game was my first start ever. But it felt good.”

Venice’s concern has been its offense.

“At first, I thought that our hitting would be good, but that’s turned out to be our biggest problem,” Alexander said. “Sometimes we hit, sometimes we don’t. It’s been frustrating.”

Chacon, who bats leadoff, is leading the team in batting with a .520 average.

“He is a three-year varsity player for us and he’s been a leader this season,” Alexander said. “But, he hasn’t scored as many runs as would have liked.”

Chavez thinks Venice will assert itself offensively.

“Our hitting has stepped up as of late,” Chavez said. “We hit a lot better when we are pumped up when we play teams like Westchester and University. I think we are going to be OK because we know we have to win in order to get into the playoffs.”

Whenever Young pitches, Venice is without his bat. He removes himself from the batting order to concentrate on pitching.

Young, who is batting .545 in league play, says that might change.

“We can be a lot better than we have been playing,” said Young, who also played on the Gondoliers’ football and basketball teams. “Our bats are starting to come together now and I might even try to bat in a game that I pitch in before the playoffs.”


Because of its pitching, Venice--which has a 2.21 ERA in league play--could be difficult to beat in the playoffs. Last year the Gondoliers won two playoff games before losing to Chatsworth.

Chacon, who has struck out only five times and has 14 walks, believes Venice can advance far into the playoffs.

“But, we need everything to come together,” he said. “We can’t have pitching one game and defense the next, then have hitting. We need it all for every game.”