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Fox Carries on Family Tradition

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Playing baseball at Fountain Valley is not only fun for senior second baseman Matt Fox, it’s practically a birthright.

His father, Steve, pitched at Fountain Valley in 1970-71, and by his father’s count “left with about 14 school records.” Steve’s 1971 team was the first Fountain Valley squad to reach the section playoffs.

Fox’s older brother, Luke, who graduated from Golden West College this spring, was on four Sunset League champions and the 1994 section Division I champions.

Matt Fox, 18, also has been on four Sunset League champions. He played on last year’s Division I winner, and hopes to make it two in a row today when the Barons get a rematch with last year’s opponent, La Puente Bishop Amat.

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The game starts at 4:30 p.m. at Blair Field in Long Beach.

Fox’s only regret was not getting to play with his brother at Fountain Valley. “I was on the JV team when he was a varsity senior,” Fox said.

Despite all the family connections, Matt Fox has made a name for himself.

Fox hit .386 (.404 in league play) with five home runs and 27 RBIs. In the field he was flawless, not making an error in 90 chances at second base.

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“He’s very steady and has very good hands,” Fountain Valley Coach Ron La Ruffa said. “He doesn’t have great quickness. He’ll probably play catcher in college, but every ball he got to he made a play on.”

Fox played shortstop last season, but moved to make room for Robert Alvarez at short.

“We played together on the frosh and JV teams so we didn’t have to ‘learn’ each other,” Fox said. “As freshman I played short and Robert played second. We switched on the JV team.

“I felt more comfortable at second; maybe it’s more natural.”

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Fox’s ease has been a key reason why Fountain Valley is back in the title game, trying to join Chaffey (1956-58) as Division I winners in three consecutive years.

Last year’s team was ranked No. 1 in the county all season and became the first county school to win back-to-back Division I titles. But the pressure to win was intense, and robbed the Barons of some enjoyment of their achievement.

This year’s team did not have the same expectations and, according to Fox, was a looser bunch.

“I had more fun this year. We seemed more relaxed, just a bunch of friends playing together.” Fox said. “Maybe others had more pressure. Last year had fun, but this year we just more fun.

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“We were shooting just to win league, and after that we felt why not go for it all?”

Steve Fox, a construction contractor, keeps a hand in Fountain Valley baseball. La Ruffa credited Steve with helping his team prepare for the semifinal game against Mater Dei and then unbeaten left-hander Mike Kolbach by pitching an hour of batting practice.

“I’m a ‘junkballer’ these days, a lot of breaking stuff,” Steve said.

But Steve will be quite satisfied to watch another son play his final Baron game. Luke’s 1994 championship game also took place at Blair Field.

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“To see both my kids play in a [section] championship game is . . . well it’s beyond words,” Steve said.

And how will Matt feel being the last of his clan to wear a Fountain Valley uniform on Saturday?

“It will feel weird,” he said. “I hope I go out winning.”


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