Peñaloza: Seabold, Vetrovec come out winners

Connor Seabold says he can draw like his talented father, Kirk.

His dad works as a graphic designer. The young Seabold doesn't spend much time drawing these days.

He prefers to paint the outside corner of the plate and brush back batters.

Seabold can thank his father for allowing him to work on his craft as a pitcher at Newport Harbor High. He will get to on the next level as well, as the right-hander verbally committed to Cal State Fullerton's baseball program.

The college is also the one Kirk and Seabold's mom, Erin Brown, attended. His parents are two big reasons why he chose the Titans.

"I grew up a Cal State Fullerton fan because of them," Seabold said.

As a kid, Seabold said he dreamed of playing for the Titans, the four-time NCAA Division I champions and one of the top programs in the country.

"Honestly, though," Seabold said, "I didn't think I would ever be in the position I'm in right now."

Moving back to Newport Beach helped Seabold's chances of Cal State Fullerton noticing him.

Work brought Kirk to Newport Beach a couple of years ago. The rest of his family joined him last summer from Colorado.

The move reunited Seabold with his childhood baseball friends, players like Shaun Vetrovec, before their junior season. The two hadn't seen much of each other since they were 11, when Seabold's family relocated to Colorado.

Unsure of what to expect five years later, Seabold came out to the Newport Harbor field in the summer. A nervous Seabold threw a bullpen session for Coach Patrick Murphy. The coach's reaction to Seabold's pitches settled down the then 16-year-old.

"Yeah, you're good for varsity," Seabold said Murphy told him.

Vetrovec, the returning ace on the Sailors' staff, always knew Seabold could throw from their days playing in youth leagues. Murphy found another 6-foot-2 ace in Seabold who can throw a fastball in the high 80s, a changeup and a breaking ball for strikes.

Seabold and Vetrovec turned in standout junior seasons on the mound for Newport Harbor. Seabold posted a 1.97 earned-run average and struck out 65 in 60 1/3 innings, earning second-team All-Sunset League accolades, and Vetrovec finished 5-4 with a 2.20 ERA, garnering first-team all-league honors.

This summer, Vetrovec and Seabold were rewarded for their efforts in the spring. They recently verbally committed to major programs, Vetrovec with UC Irvine.

Their decisions came four days apart. They usually are involved in major decisions during league play in that short amount of time, not in the off-season.

With their latest decisions, Vetrovec and Seabold said they came out as winners.

Their next goal is to lead the Sailors to their first CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoff appearance since 2010. Vetrovec and Seabold are two of four incoming senior starters, including catcher Tk McWhertor and first baseman Jake Norton.

After high school, Vetrovec and Seabold will be rivals. The Titans and Anteaters play in the Big West Conference.

"It should be pretty fun to play against each other on the next level," said Vetrovec, adding that he chose UCI because of its baseball program and academics.

Vetrovec committed on Friday, before Seabold did. Seabold said he also received a partial scholarship offer from UCI, as well as from UC Santa Barbara and Loyola Marymount.

Vetrovec never tried to talk Seabold into joining the Anteaters. Nothing Vetrovec would've said would have swayed Seabold, anyway.

"I grew up rooting for the Titans as a kid," Seabold said. "I went to their home opener last season with my dad and brothers [Cade and Carson]. To think I'll be out there next year with the team is incredible."

Seabold or his dad cannot draw it up any better.

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