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El Camino soars to unfamiliar heights

04/12/2013, 11:06pm PDT
By John Maffei

The attitude has been adjusted. The win total has doubled.

— The attitude has been adjusted. The win total has doubled.

And three games into the Avocado West League season, the El Camino High baseball team finds itself in an unfamiliar spot — first place.

The Wildcats completed a three-game league sweep of Rancho Buena Vista on Friday, pushing across two runs on four singles — none hit hard enough to bruise a baby’s lips — then overcame a pair of errors in the bottom of the inning to edge the Longhorns 7-6 in nine innings.

“This sweep is huge,” said first-year El Camino coach Jason Schmeiser. “Our goal was to turn this program around. So this sweep is a giant step.”

El Camino, which was 5-20 last season, improved to 10-6 overall and 3-0 in league play under Schmeiser, a longtime varsity assistant coach at RBV and the freshman coach last year. He was passed over two years ago for the RBV job when Sheldon Watkins was hired to coach the Longhorns.

“Jason works hard and brings a lot of intensity,” Watkins said. “El Camino is a tough, scrappy team.

“We had leads in the sixth inning of the first two games of this series and lost (5-2 and 9-8). We’ve been a little snakebitten, and the injury bug has bitten us. But that doesn’t take away from what El Camino is doing.

“They have a chance to win this league (which includes Carlsbad, La Costa Canyon, Fallbrook and Vista).”

The Wildcats let a 5-2 lead slip away Friday as RBV (9-8, 0-3) scored one in the sixth and two in the seventh to tie the game and send it into extra innings.

El Camino used soft singles by Troy Lamparello, Michael Lopez, Tanner Olthoff and Austin Beasley to score twice in the ninth.

RBV scored once in the bottom of the inning on a single and a pair of infield errors, but left the tying and winning runs in scoring position as Mynor Barrientos got an infield pop to end the game.

“El Camino has never been this good in baseball,” said Wildcats pitcher-infielder Jordan Pearce, who doubled in a pair of runs and pitched the first six innings. “We’re on the right track now. And this is only the start.”

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