Controversy Grew After Seeds Sown


Have City Section 4-A Division baseball coaches taken leave of their senses? Kennedy High Coach Manny Alvarado darn near lost his mind at the playoff seeding meeting Wednesday.

Before the smoke had settled and the playoffs were seeded, Kennedy was third behind El Camino Real and Sylmar.

Kennedy (23-3) lost twice to El Camino Real, so there was little discussion on that point. But third behind Sylmar? Offensively, there is no comparison.


Kennedy is ranked ninth in the state by Cal-Hi Sports. Six players entered the week batting above .400 and three players have hit four or more home runs. Four players have 22 or more runs batted in.

Sylmar (19-7) entered the week with one player batting above .400. Sylmar had two homers and the team leader in RBIs had 21.

Competition? Two teams (Sylmar and Monroe) in the Valley Pac-8 Conference had winning records. Four teams in the Northwest Valley Conference (El Camino Real, Kennedy, Chatsworth and Taft) won at least 18 games.

Yet when coaches at the seeding meeting were asked to cast votes for the second-seeded team, Sylmar edged Kennedy, 6-5. Alvarado said he was miffed, but didn’t say much.

“I’m not into the macho stuff,” he said.

Ultimately, though, things turned out well for Kennedy. The Golden Cougars are still in the opposite bracket from El Camino Real and open with North Hollywood (11-11). If Kennedy wins, it will play the Taft-Carson winner in the second round.

“As long as I’m not playing a second-place team from our league in the second round, and I’m in the opposite bracket from El Camino, I’m OK with it,” Alvarado said. . . .





Cleveland Coach Steve Landress could have used another pitcher this season. Maybe he should have looked in the closet to see if the previous resident left any little brothers behind.

Landress resides in the same house where former Cleveland standout Dennis Moeller lived while a student. Moeller, a left-hander, graduated from Cleveland in 1986 and now pitches for the Pittsburgh Pirates. . . .

San Fernando pitcher John Romero has been declared academically ineligible, which could hurt the Tigers if they advance beyond the first round of the 4-A playoffs.

Romero was 2-2 and in the starting rotation along with staff ace Ray Rivera. Senior left-hander Jorge Gonzales will take Romero’s place. Gonzales, in fact, might start in the first round against Westchester on Tuesday. . . .

Mike Maio should clear the bench more often. Maio, the coach at El Camino Real, said last week that he planned to use more of his reserves during a game against Reseda, the lone winless team in conference play. Getting the start was seldom-used pitcher Tony Kyber, a junior.

Kyber, a right-hander, responded with a five-hitter. He struck out 10 and walked none. Kyber (3-0, 2.21 earned-run average) figures to be starting next season in the rotation with left-hander Randy Wolf (9-1). . . .



Shortly after completing the first round of the City Section golf championships, Leroy Bates and Keion Witherspoon of Granada Hills walked up to their coach, Joe White. “Can we take tomorrow off?” they asked. “We’ve played four days in a row.”

They were a tad tired, to be sure. Both had competed earlier in the week in the National Minority Golf Championship in Willoughby Hills, Ohio. Witherspoon won the boys’ high school division with a 36-hole total of 159. The second round in Ohio was Tuesday, which cut matters close for the pair, who teed off Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. in the City tournament.

“I got back (Tuesday) night at about 12:30,” Witherspoon. “I scheduled the plane flight so I could be back in time. I don’t want to use being tired as an excuse, but. . . .”

Bates shot an 80 and Witherspoon had an 81 in the first round. The final round of the City event is Monday.



Maybe they can compare checking accounts over dinner when the game is over. When Buckley faces Orange Lutheran today in the first round of the Southern Section Division V playoffs, the coaches will have plenty in common. Orange Lutheran Coach Jeff Pressman, who formerly coached at Montclair Prep, founded and once owned the Valley Cardinals Baseball Camp. Buckley Coach Rick Weber later bought the camp, and has since resold it. They remain close friends.



When push came to shove, Poly turned to its veterans-- both of them--to earn a playoff berth.

Bobby Iglesias and Danny Martinez, the only returning players from last year’s team with varsity experience, helped the Parrots clinch a second-place finish last week in the East Valley League, which guaranteed Poly a playoff berth.


Iglesias and Martinez both went five for eight (.625) with each getting three extra-base hits.

Iglesias, who hit two home runs and a double, drove in six runs. Martinez, with two doubles and a triple to pace the Parrots’ 22-hit attack against Grant last week, had four RBIs.

Junior right-hander Steve Brown (3-6) was Birmingham’s ace. But consider: Birmingham finished 6-14-2, so how good could he have been?

Better than any pitcher the Braves have faced this season, according to Coach Dave Contreras.

“He’s just had the worst luck I’ve seen,” Contreras said. “You’ve got to score runs for a guy to win. I think he could pitch for anybody.”

Brown entered the week with a 2.41 ERA.



Valery Calkins of Thousand Oaks and Alexis Larsen of Harvard-Westlake had a common bond last weekend at the Southern Section swimming championships.


Both posted excellent times and both were one-upped. The catch was, Larsen one-upped Calkins.

In the Division I finals, Calkins posted the second-fastest high school time in the nation this year in the 500-yard freestyle in 4:51.01.

Larsen set a Division III record in the 200-yard individual medley Friday in the preliminaries, swimming 2 minutes 6.13 seconds.

Moments later her mark was broken by Ginny Farmer of San Luis Obispo (2:05.76). So Larsen took an unintentional measure of revenge the next day. She swam the 500 in 4:50.07, at the Division III finals, passing Calkins and Washington’s Leslie Mix for the fastest prep mark in the country this year.


About face.

Forward march.

Chaminade pulled off an impressive turnaround this season under first-year Coach Dave Desmond, and next year looks even better.

In 1992, Chaminade was 4-22 and finished last in league play at 1-11. This season, the Eagles improved to 13-13 and tied for fourth in the league at 6-8. Only two players from among the team’s eight position players are graduating this year.


“Our feeling is that we’re really excited for the seniors who suffered for so long,” Desmond said. “As far as the underclassmen go, we know we still have work to do because we don’t want to viewed as an average team next year.”



What’s a good glove worth? Plenty.

Palmdale (18-4-1) played 12 games this season without committing an error, Coach Kent Bothwell said.

Palmdale finished second in league play and earned a Southern Section Division III playoff berth.

Meanwhile, Antelope Valley’s defense didn’t exactly set the High Desert afire.

The Antelopes, who lost their last four games to miss the playoffs by a game, committed at least one error in each of their 21 games and committed multiple errors in 19.

Coach Ed t’Sas said Antelope Valley allowed an average of 3.9 unearned runs a game--and he hasn’t even added up the total number of E’s committed by his team.

“I am gonna go through the book and add it all up,” he said. “I’m really gonna start beating myself over the head.”


The coach is still reeling.

“I’m still in shock,” t’Sas said Tuesday. “I still can’t believe it. What happened?”

In a word: losses.

Antelope Valley was on top of the world two weeks ago. The hard-charging Antelopes were 8-3 in league play and needed just one victory over their final four games to earn a playoff berth as the third-place team.

But they lost all four--and scored a mere nine runs over that stretch. The Antelopes averaged 9.2 runs before tailing off down the stretch.

“We needed one win to make the playoffs and I think everybody was thinking league title,” t’Sas said.

“I preached and preached and preached that this was nothing, that we still had work left to do.”

A disconcerting end, no doubt about it. Antelope Valley (8-13, 8-7) took two of three games from every team in the league except Palmdale, which recorded a three-game sweep. . . .

Freddy was ready.

After entering last week with three losses in a row, Quartz Hill needed two victories to win the league title.


Outfielder-pitcher Freddy Coleman was up to the task.

In Tuesday’s 7-2 win over second-place Palmdale, Coleman was the winning pitcher, doubled twice and drove in four runs.

In Friday’s win over Burroughs of Ridgecrest, he was five for five and drove in five runs to lead Quartz Hill to its first outright league title. . . .

The season of Antelope Valley third baseman Eric Cole ended last week with the team’s loss to Highland, but he posted offensive marks that match up with almost any player in the region.

A senior, Cole batted .480 with 10 doubles, three triples, seven home runs and 34 RBIs. All were team highs.

Of Cole’s 36 hits, 20 were for extra bases, giving him a slugging percentage of .973.

Highland, a team that swung some big bats, might have possessed the biggest boppers in the area.

Burly seniors Jim Reel and Tim Pennell are planting balls over the outfield fence with regularity.


Reel is 6-foot-3, 230 pounds; Pennell is 6-4, 240.

They entered the week batting .423 and .424 respectively and Reel finished the regular season with a league-high 12 doubles and 39 RBIs.

Kennedy Cosgrove and staff writers Steve Elling, Jeff Fletcher and Paige A. Leech contributed to this notebook.