COMMUNITY COLLEGE REGIONAL BASEBALL PLAYOFFS : Cypress Wins, Gains Berth in State Tournament


Kari Pickler, daughter of Cypress Coach Scott Pickler, had two things to say after her dad's team beat Cuesta, 14-4, in a Southern California baseball playoff final Sunday at Cypress.

First she congratulated him on the victory and the berth in the State tournament. She also had a bit of advice for him: "Don't get your hair cut too short or it will never grow back."

Minutes later, Pickler and his assistants Bill Pinkham, Ron Hall and Ron Hauczinger got buzz cuts at the hands of the players to pay off a bet made about six weeks ago.

"It's worth it," Pickler said. "I'm excited. There are four teams still playing and 80 that are not."

Cypress, the Orange Empire Conference champion, will be joined by Rancho Santiago, the third-place team from the same conference, in the tournament starting Saturday at Cerritos.

This is the third time in four years that both Southern California representatives have come from the Orange Empire Conference. Cypress won the title in 1991 and Rancho Santiago won it last year.

Things started quickly for Cypress, the designated visitor. Leadoff hitter Augie Ojeda walked. Israel Gonzalez singled and Jason Hodges followed with a three-run homer, his 14th and a Cypress single-season record.

"I tried to say (the record) wasn't on my mind," Hodges said. "But it was . . . It's nice to be going to the State tournament. I'd trade all my home runs for a ring next weekend."

Josh Kliner hit a three-run home run in the third as Cypress opened a 7-1 lead. The Chargers added three in the fifth and four in the sixth to go ahead, 14-4.

Ojeda, Kliner, Hodges and Mark Selway each drove in three runs for the Chargers (39-10).

Matt Hendren (10-2) came up with another in a series of strong pitching performances for Cypress. He gave up eight hits and four runs in eight innings. Hendren, who made an oral commitment to Arizona on Saturday, struck out nine.

Rob Crabtree, who hadn't pitched in about six weeks because of an arm injury, worked a perfect ninth, striking out two.

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