Silent but deadly

BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON HIGH -- Walking onto the field at Brace Canyon

Park, Bellarmine-Jefferson High Coach Hector Perez usually greets his

players and talks a little baseball before practice starts.

But when the coach passes Bryan and Fabio Vargas, he often isn't

even acknowledged by either brother.

"Sometimes, they won't even say hi to me," Perez. "Most of the

time, they don't talk at all."

It's not that the Vargas' are rude, the two actually like Perez.

However, they are so painfully shy that it's rare for the players to

say much of anything to coaches and players during practices and

games.

"You have to realize, this is just the way they are," Perez said.

"It's not that they're trying to be mean to people, they just prefer

to be quiet. We don't get mad at them because they don't talk, we

just let them be themselves. We have kind of gotten used to it."

Opponents this season have gotten a taste of the Vargas' silent

but deadly treatment. Both pitchers, Bryan -- a senior -- and Fabio

-- a junior -- have successfully quieted every team they have faced

in league.

With a combined 5-0 record and 0.68 earned-run average in league,

Bryan (3-0) and Fabio (2-0) have led a Bell-Jeff resurgence that has

caught much of the Santa Fe League off guard. In their five starts,

all have been complete-game victories and three have been shutouts.

Successfully combining power and finesse on the mound, the

right-handers use good ball movement and an intimidating

three-quarters side-arm delivery to baffle batters.

The pair has been able to improve and grow under the watchful eye

of Bell-Jeff pitching Coach Rod Arancibia.

"Rod has done a great job, by himself, with the pitchers," Perez

said. "Pitching is not my thing, and I leave all that up to him."

"Fabio pitches a little slower than I do," Bryan said. "But he has

better movement and a better curveball than I do. He actually taught

me how to throw a good curveball."

In his three wins, Bryan has logged 17 innings, has a 0.67 ERA,

allowed six runs (one earned), eight hits, struck out 24 and walked

six. For Fabio, his 10 innings has yielded two runs (one earned),

five hits, a 0.70 ERA and he has struck out nine and walked three.

"The great thing about the both of them is that they have great

movement on their pitches," Perez said. "They really fool a lot of

hitters."

The Guard brother combo has helped Bell-Jeff to one of its best

league showings in more than 10 years. Although the team took its

lumps during nonleague play -- going 0-6, the Guards have thrived in

league and are in second place with a 5-1 record. Three of the five

wins have been 10-run mercy-rule results.

Bell-Jeff's lone league loss was a 9-1 setback to host Pasadena La

Salle -- ranked No. 2 in CIF Southern Section Division V.

With just two league games remaining, the Guards have a chance to

erase years of futility within the program. Barring a complete

collapse, the Guards will make the playoffs for the first time since

1995.

However, more importantly, Bell-Jeff is in the running for its

first league championship since a Hal Krug-coached team accomplished

the feat in 1979. But to do so, the Guards will have to defeat La

Salle at 5:30 p.m. on May 13 at Brace Canyon Park.

Last season, Bell-Jeff went 2-8 in league.

The Guards' success is remarkable taking into consideration Perez

often starts four freshmen and has two sophomores who regularly

contribute.

Deflecting the credit from himself and his brother, Fabio said the

Guard defense deserves a lot of credit for keeping the team in games.

"The defense has been really great this year," he said. "It's a

lot better than last year."

Although he will lose Bryan to graduation, with Fabio and all the

freshmen and sophomores back, Perez said the future looks bright for

the Bell-Jeff program.

"The players, especially the younger players, have really started

to believe in the system and what we've been trying to teach them,"

Perez said.

"It's just great to see the kids out their giving it their all and

being successful. That's what it's all about."

A lot of that success has been built on the arms of with Bryan and

Fabio Vargas, whose silence has been golden for Bell-Jeff.

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