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Minor Leaguer Collapses

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 20-year-old minor league pitcher collapsed in the bullpen Saturday night at Rancho Cucamonga’s Epicenter and was rushed to a local hospital after attempts at the ballpark to restart his heart had proven futile.

A source close to the situation said that Matt LaChappa had regained a pulse and was admitted to Upland’s San Antonio Community Hospital in serious but stable condition on Saturday night.

That condition was downgraded to critical later in the evening, and the source also said that LaChappa would undergo surgery.

LaChappa had been warming up to enter the game for the Quakes, a San Diego farm club in the Class-A California League, when he collapsed on the bullpen mound in left field in the bottom of the fourth inning, at about 8:30 p.m.

Teammates quickly summoned trainer Jim Daniel, who immediately dispatched pitching coach Saul Soltero to call for emergency help.

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While players from both Rancho Cucamonga and San Bernardino gathered around, some watching, some praying, all silent, Daniel began cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

“He did not have a heartbeat,” Daniel said.

He still did not have a heartbeat a few minutes later, when paramedics arrived to take LaChappa, whose parents were in the stands from his home in La Mesa, Calif., near San Diego, to the hospital.

“The players were just devastated,” said Hank Sticney, the Quakes’ general manager, who said that he was under the impression that LaChappa had suffered a massive heart attack.

The players were not the only ones emotionally affected.

“I’m sorry, but I just can’t talk right now,” said Rancho Cucamonga Manager Mike Basso, his voice trembling.

LaChappa, a left-hander, had been a second-round draft choice of the Padres in 1993 and was 11-7 as a starting pitcher for Rancho Cucamonga last season.

The Padres wanted to convert him to relief, and he was to come on for starting pitcher Keith Davis in the fifth inning on Saturday night.

San Bernardino was ahead, 5-1, in the fourth inning when LaChappa collapsed.

The game was postponed, as was today’s Quakes’ game against High Desert was also postponed.

Daniels, a 13-year veteran trainer with the Padres, said he had worked with LaChappa, who is 6 feet 2, 170 pounds, for several years, and “he had never seemed to have any trouble.”


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