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Eastlake ‘Manny fan’ talks hitting

03/26/2013, 10:43pm PDT
By Bill Dickens, Special to the U-T

"The idea is to square up on the ball, and hit off the barrel," says Titans senior.

— Eastlake High senior James L’Esperance doesn’t concern himself with personal statistics or the mandatory use of BBCOR bats.

“Actually the composite bats make you a better hitter,” said the 5-foot-10, 165-pound center fielder. “They teach you to slow down your swing. The idea is to square up on the ball, and hit off the barrel.”

Not that L’Esperance is lacking in power. He has three home runs in 10 games for the Titans (8-2).

But he used his short game on Tuesday with a pair of run-scoring singles as host Eastlake edged Torrey Pines 4-2 in a Premier Division game of the 63rd annual Lions Baseball Tournament.

L’Esperance followed singles by Angel Estrada and Spencer Sundahl with an RBI single to ignite a three-run first inning for the Titans. L’Esperance slashed a bases-loaded single to make it 4-0 in the fourth.

“The thing about hitting is to keep your swing consistent,” L’Esperance said. “Slow is smooth, and smooth is what I love.”

Born in Boston, L’Esperance is of French heritage. Manny Ramirez is his all-time favorite player.

“I’ll always be a Red Sox fan, no matter where I live,” he said.

Roman Garcia picked up where L’Esperance left off with a single, a double and two RBIs.

Not to be overlooked was the pitching of sophomore right-hander Isaac Vargas (3-0), who limited the Falcons to five hits in a complete-game effort. He logged six strikeouts — four of them coming over the final two innings. He did his best work in the sixth when Torrey Pines (5-5) had runners at second and third and nobody out.

“I knew they had the tying runs out there, but it really didn’t bother me,” Vargas said. “I just made sure I got outs.”

And he did, freezing the runners in scoring position.

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