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Cypress Is Early Leader of the Pack in Baseball Race

After one round of Orange Empire Conference baseball games, two races have developed.

There is the battle for first place, which Cypress controls. The Chargers (17-3-1, 6-0) hold a three-game lead but with 18 games left, nobody is printing any championship signs.

The second and much more contested race features each of the other six teams.

Defending co-champions Saddleback (16-5) and Riverside (11-8-1) are tied for second along with Orange Coast (11-10). Each team is 3-3 in conference. Golden West (12-8), Fullerton (13-9) and Santa Ana (12-9) are a game back at 2-4.

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“It’s very interesting,” Santa Ana Coach Don Sneddon said. “Cypress got out in front and everybody else has just been beating each other up.”

The teams move into home-and-home series starting today, but Cypress has a bye and doesn’t start conference play until Saturday when the Chargers are at Fullerton for a noon game.

Fullerton starts at 2 p.m. today at Saddleback with Hornet Coach Nick Fuscardo going for victory No. 300. Fuscardo has a record of 299-250-7 and is in his 14th season at the college.

“Somebody’s got to stop them,” Fuscardo said about Cypress. “I hope it’s us. . . . The last two rounds are a lot more important than the first.”

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It could also be a milestone game for Saddleback Coach Jack Hodges, who has a record of 249-154-3 and is in his 10th season. The teams play again at 2 p.m. Thursday at Fullerton.

Golden West Coach Bert Villarreal isn’t as much concerned with Cypress as he is with getting better pitching.

“At this point,” he said, “it’s kind of a race to 12 [conference] wins to see if that will get you into the playoffs.”

NEW COLLEGE, NEW COACH

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Edward Cantu has been hired to start the men’s and women’s cross-country programs, Santiago Canyon College announced.

Cantu, who has been coaching cross-country at Villa Park the last two seasons and at Orange High before that, is the first coach hired by the college.

The team will compete in its first event in the fall.

DOMINATING PLAY

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The Saddleback men’s tennis team has had little trouble so far in Orange Empire Conference matches.

The Gauchos beat Orange Coast, 8-1, last week and Cypress, 8-1, Monday to improve to 7-0 in conference play. John Cappello is undefeated at No. 1 singles for the Gauchos, who have won the past six conference titles and 19 of 20.

Golden West (5-1) is in second place.

MOVING ON

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Santa Ana offensive tackle Tait Afualo has signed to play football at Eastern Kentucky and his teammate, defensive end/linebacker Rick Hewitson, has signed with Olivet Nazarene in Kankakee, Ill., Don Coach Dave Ogas said.

Afualo, 6 feet 6 and 315 pounds, was an All-Mission Conference Central Division pick. Hewitson (6-2, 255), who played at Mater Dei, had five sacks last season. Olivet Nazarene lost to Azusa Pacific in the NAIA Division I championship in 1998.


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