Ron La Ruffa retired as coach at Fountain Valley (Fountain Valley, Calif.) in 2002, but he took over the program this season when current coach Joe MacDonald resigned because of family medical issues. La Ruffa brought on another Orange County coaching great, Dave Demarest, who retired three years ago from La Quinta (La Quinta, Calif.). Between them, they have more than 1,200 victories, and the dynamic duo have created a winner – again.
“I never thought this would happen so fast,” La Ruffa told the Orange County Register. “We're 13-8 and only five or six defensive plays early in the season from being 18-4. The kids are buying into what we're doing, and we've got a great group of kids.”
Fountain Valley was 11-13 overall and a last-place 4-11 in the Sunset League a year ago. Coming into this week the Barons are 13-8, 6-5, in third place, and have won nine of their last 10 games behind catcher Eddie AlvarezAaron Ochoa, both seniors, and sophomore left-handed pitcher Zac Milan. and designated hitter
Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.) has a no tolerance policy where tobacco is concerned, and it cost baseball coach Bradey Thurman a week's worth of services. Thurman was suspended by the administration after it was learned that one of his players had some chewing tobacco in his bag. Thurman dealt with the issue by making the player do some extra drills, and not the fun kind but the “You're in trouble and I'm going to make sure you never forget about it” kind.
However, after it had apparently been handled at the primary level between coach and player (and the boy's parents), Thurman was suspended for a week with pay by his principal.
It's nothing out of Thurman's pocket, but that is hardly the point.
How was Thurman culpable for something his player did, and for which the player was punished by Thurman and the parents notified?
Principal Mary Little wasn't talking, claiming it's a personnel issue. “We're taking care of it internally,” she said last week.
Maybe so, but it seems there is a lack of common sense and reasoning at work here. By the same logic, Little could be suspended for a week by the superintendent for something that Thurman did.
The good news is that Thurman is back on the job this week as the Sea Hawks play two games against rival Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), hosting the Mustangs on Wednesday and playing at Mira Costa on Thursday.
Notes from the bullpen
Mitch Bluman had five runs batted in, including a grand slam in the sixth inning, to lift El Camino Real (Woodland Hills, Calif.) to an 8-3 victory over Chatsworth (Chatsworth, Calif.) to clinch a share of the West Valley League title for the first time since 2002. It positions ECR (15-10, 9-0) to win the title outright on Thursday in the second game of this week's home-and-home series. Defending City Section champion Chatsworth (21-4, 7-1) is the nine-time City champion.
Blake Mendoza homered to tie the score in the fifth inning, then Jacob Johnson singled home the winning run as San Pedro (San Pedro, Calif.) defeated Banning (Wilmington, Calif.), 4-3, to create a first-place tie in the Marine League. The teams play again on Thursday to decide the league title. San Pedro (20-4, 8-1) is trying to win its first title since 2005, Banning (19-8, 8-1) its first since 2003.
Just a week after Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.) lost to Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.), 22-2, the Wolverines bounced back with a stunning 10-0 victory over Crespi (Encino, Calif.) as sophomore Lucas GiolitoChaminade (West Hills, Calif.)(22-4, 7-2). pitched a one-hitter. Crespi (19-5, 6-3) is now in second place in the Mission League behind
Rio Ruiz, who had a monstrous home run in a 4-3 victory over South Hills (West Covina, Calif.) in an SGV showdown, had two triples and Jordan McCraney had a three-run double to lift Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.) to a shocking 11-1 nonleague victory over Lakewood (Lakewood, Calif.) to win the marquee division of the Redondo tournament. Bishop Amat (22-2), ranked No. 10 in the state at the time, scored seven in the first inning against No. 7 Lakewood (23-5) and undefeated pitcher Brandon McNitt made it stand up by allowing just four hits over six innings.
Jesus Valdez of Hueneme pitched a no-hitter, his second of the season, with 14 strikeouts in a 7-0 Pacific View League victory over Channel Islands (Oxnard, Calif.).
Jordan Geiger of Garden Grove threw a perfect game in a 2-0 victory over first-place La Quinta (La Quinta, Calif.) in the Garden Grove League. It was Grove's first victory at La Quinta since 1998, and moved the Argonauts to within a game of first place. He struck out seven and used only 78 pitches. Geiger also drove in one run and scored the other.
After getting beaten by Esperanza (Anaheim, Calif.) to fall into a first-place tie, Edison (Huntington Beach, Calif.) took over sole possession of first place in the Sunset League with a 12-9 victory over the Aztecs.
Aliso Niguel (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) beat Mission Viejo (Mission Viejo, Calif.) twice last week to move into first place in the South Coast League, getting an eight-inning complete game from Brett Barker and four hits and two RBIs from Tyler Chapman in a 5-3 win. Only problem: The Wolverines began this week losing 10-3 to last-place Capistrano Valley (Mission Viejo, Calif.). Aliso Niguel (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) (13-10, 7-4) and San Clemente (San Clemente, Calif.)(15-8, 7-4) are tied with four games remaining.
Ayala (Chino Hills, Calif.), which boasts UCLA-bound pitcher Jessica Hall and is one of the top softball teams in the country, was beaten by the last-place team in the Sierra League, St. Lucy's (Glendora, Calif.), 4-3, after giving up consecutive two-out hits in the last inning. Now tied for first place with Glendora (Glendora, Calif.), the two teams play twice next week.
Comings and goings
Scott McRitchie has been named the new football coach at Banning (Banning, Calif.). He had been 23-20 over four seasons at West Valley (Hemet, Calif.), including 9-2 in his final season, 2008.
Derrick Johnson, a former athlete at Notre Dame (Riverside, Calif.) who played in the NFL and CFL, has been named coach at California Military Institute (Perris, Calif.).
Craig Cieslik has been named the new football coach at Bassett (La Puente, Calif.). He had previously coached at Cleveland (Reseda, Calif.) and La Sierra (Riverside, Calif.). In 1991, at age 18, he guided Antelope Valley Christian (Lancaster, Calif.) to a section eight-man title game, becoming the youngest coach to do so. “It's going to be tough,” he told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, “but I've turned around bad programs before.”
Mike Cobleigh, an assistant at Cypress (Cypress, Calif.), has been promoted to head coach following the departure of Ray Fenton to Webb (Claremont, Calif.).
Christian Villasenor, a defensive back at Hillcrest Christian-Granada Hills, has committed to Lehigh.
Tre Holden, who averaged 24 points for El Camino Real, has committed to Cal State Dominguez Hills for men's basketball.
Michael Davis, a pitcher at Woodcrest Christian, has signed with UC San Diego. . . . Michael Olson, an outfielder at Santiago-Corona, has committed to Cal State San Marcos.
The transfers among you
Michael Yearwood, a junior quarterback at Arroyo Valley-San Bernardino, has reportedly transferred to University-Los Angeles. He had transferred from University to Arroyo Valley during his sophomore year.
Garfield-Los Angeles announced it is forfeiting two victories from the 2009 football season for using an ineligible player, against Huntington Park and South Gate. The player in question also competed in on-field losses to Jordan-Los Angeles, Bell and Taft-Woodland Hills. Garfield's revised record is 3-8.
Crespi has completed its football schedule under new coach Jon Mack. Notable is that the Celts' nonleague schedule begins at home against Dominguez-Compton, and play on Oct. 1 at Vista Murrieta and the following week at home against Taft. Nice. In between are Jordan-Los Angeles, Clovis West-Fresno, and Chula Vista.
Probably not called the Friendship Games
For at least the second time in a few weeks, a track meet has had a rules violation that led to a disqualification. In this case, it determined the Rio Hondo League girls' title. South Pasadena pole vaulter Robin Laird cleared the 7 feet 6 inches necessary to give her team a dual meet victory and the title, but Monrovia coach Mike Knowles pointed out Laird's friendship bracelet afterward, which is a violation of jewelry rules and calls for automatic disqualification.
Laird was DQ'd and Monrovia won, 65-62. “I hate that,” Knowles told the Pasadena Star-News. “I didn't want to do that. I've lost a CIF title because a girl had one diamond earring she forgot to take out in the 4x400 relay.”
South Pasadena coach P.J. Hernandez said that “a DQ is unfortunate, but technically, the rule is the rule,” and his assistant affirmed that the girls know the rule is in place.
Still, these kinds of judgment calls don't benefit anyone. South Pasadena is certainly culpable: Laird for not removing the bracelet beforehand, the coaches for not making sure athletes double-checked each other before the meet. But if pursuing victory with honor is the most important element of competition within the California Interscholastic Federation, and knowing that his team had lost based on performance, might Knowles have taken a higher road?
Short of letting it pass completely – no harm, no foul? – pointing out Laird's indiscretion to her coaches and giving them the option to self-report would seem the most honorable tact; it removes Monrovia from appearing petty in order to gain a victory it didn't deserve based on performance and places the responsibility squarely on South Pasadena. I suspect if he had done that, South Pasadena would have made the call on itself and, if not, Knowles would walk away knowing he was the better man.
Instead, it just looks bad, and even though he hated doing it, he apparently didn't hate it enough. It appears to create a hollow victory.
A true show of sportsmanship
Contrast what happened with South Pasadena and Monrovia with the sportsmanship of Carrie Soholt, the Riverside King runner who, by default, finished second in the 1600 meters in the Riverside City Track and Field Championships because the runner in front of her was DQ'd for wearing the wrong color undershorts.
Soholt's response? She gave her silver medal to the runner who beat her on the track.
“When we talk about victory with honor and sportsmanship and what this should be about, you don't see it as often as you'd like,” said John Corona, King's track coach. “We got to see that with Carrie.”
Martin Henderson began covering Southland preps in 1993 for the Los Angeles Times. He contributes to the Orange County Register, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and San Bernardino Sun, and offers up motorsports opinions at Racescribe.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.