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Calvary Chapel’s Jones Keeps Up With Big Boys : Baseball: Skeptics decry his skills because he plays for a small school. But his numbers match up well.

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SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

His average is .526. He has 40 runs batted in. He has committed only one error in 28 starts. But some people still hesitate to give him his due.

Calvary Chapel’s Joe Jones is used to skeptics. Playing for a Division V team, there are many who say he doesn’t face decent competition and anyone could amass outstanding stats at a small school. But Jones doesn’t let it bother him.

“I know I’m a good hitter,” said Jones, a junior. “I have confidence in my hitting and I’m up to the challenge to hit against anyone. The people who know me know how good I am.”

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Calvary Chapel Coach Joe Walters has the stats to back up his hot hitter. Walters figured Jones hit .700 against the top eight teams the Eagles played. In the Arizona Grand Slam Tournament, Calvary Chapel faced La Puente Bishop Amat, San Jose Santa Teresa and two strong teams from Arizona. Jones had three hits against each.

“In league, Joe only hit .400, but against the best teams we played this season, he hit .700,” Walters said. “You can’t argue with that stat. Joe does better against better teams.”

His freshman year, the Eagles made it to the Southern Section semifinals before losing. After an off season his sophomore year, when the Eagles won only five games, Jones got depressed.

“I was really down after my sophomore year,” Jones said. “It’s hard to lose like that. We lost a lot of good players, but I still thought we’d do better than that. Jim Doyle is the one that pulled me out of my slump and lifted my spirits.”

Doyle coached Jones during the summer on a club team. He taught him to be more patient, to wait for the ball and be mentally tough.

“He was really raw,” Doyle said. “The first two weeks he chased everything in the dirt. I taught him to think, to be mentally smart. He learned to be patient and aggressive at the same time. He is an incredible athlete. I see him as a Cecil Fielder; he’s got that kind of hitting power.”

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But at 6 feet 3, 230 pounds, Jones is also a hot commodity on the football field. Playing tight end for the Eagles, such colleges as Arizona, USC and Colorado are sending him letters of interest. But baseball is still his first love.

“Football is serious, but baseball is what I love to play,” Jones said. “I really want to get a scholarship in baseball or even get drafted.”

Doyle thinks Jones’ draft prospects are good. Jones will be playing in the Connie Mack league, where he will get his opportunity to play with the cream of the crop of Orange County and show that he deserves to be there.

Joining Jones on the Cardinal team will be Katella’s Jaret Wright, the 10th player selected in the June amateur draft, Tustin’s Derek Baker, a 12th-round selection and Seth Etherton a 16th-round pick from Dana Hills.

“He’s going to learn a lot this summer,” Doyle said. “This is a big step for him and it’s going to help him mature even more. He is going to have a very successful career ahead of him in college and beyond.”

Right now though, Jones has his sights set on the Southern Section Championship. Calvary Chapel will face Sierra Madre Maranatha today.Minutemen are 20-4 and finished second in the Alpha League. On the mound for the Minutemen will be Jon Crabb (9-0).

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“I think our chances are great,” Jones said. “We’re on a roll right now and we are going to go all the way.”

Crabb better be careful.

“I like fast pitching,” Jones said. “I don’t like it slow, but against L.A. Whitney, I went seven for eight in a doubleheader, with two home runs and two doubles. They pitched slow.”

SIERRA MADRE MARANATHA VS. CALVARY CHAPEL

Division V

When: 11 a.m. today

Where: Blair Field, Long Beach

Records: Sierra Madre Maranatha (20-4); Calvary Chapel (20-8)

Starting pitchers: Jon Crabb (9-0); Matt Herr (7-4)

Noteworthy: Calvary Chapel, the third-place team from the Olympic League, defeated top-seeded L.A. Baptist in the second round. First baseman Joe Jones leads the Eagles with a .526 average. Maranatha, the second-place team from the Alpha League, is led by left fielder Steve Strickland, who is batting .441.

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