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Pacifica's Bethell plays through his pain
Max Bethell has learned that, win or lose Friday, he can and should be the same person.
Bethell is a senior pitcher/first baseman for Pacifica, which plays Aliso Niguel in the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 championship game at Dodger Stadium. He has been a force for the Mariners, batting .370 while going 11-1 on the mound with a 1.55 ERA. His two-run home run in the seventh inning on the final day of the regular season gave the Mariners a 2-1 victory over Cypress, a victory that earned Pacifica the Empire League championship.
On April 28, Bethell's father Ray passed away after a long battle with lung cancer. Ray was 59.
"Through all the things he went through," Max said Thursday, "all the processes and therapies, even though it took a ridiculous toll on his body, his personality and spirit stayed the same."
Ray Bethell was one of those guys who threw himself completely into whatever he is doing. He was 100 percent family man, 100 percent working man.
Max's father owned an automobile repair shop. At age 19, Ray Bethell already owned two Shell stations. Max loved hanging around the shop with dad, even had his own shop uniform, and did the odd jobs like emptying the trash when he was little and went on to doing oil changes, rotating tires and more.
Dad was a car guy, of course. "He owned a lot of spectacular cars," said Max, including a black '65 Corvette with gold trim.
When it was time for Max to get a car, dad put his son in a 2005 Dodge Magnum – a practical, well-built and well-designed car with plenty of power.
"He wanted me in a very safe car, because I'm going to be doing a lot of driving when I go to college," said Max, who signed with Cal Poly Pomona.
Ray never missed one of his son's games, although sometimes Max told his ailing father that maybe it would be wiser to stay home. When Ray passed away, Max did not miss a game or a practice. Like dad, 100 percent committed.
"I knew he'd rather have me being with my team," Max said. "He knew how hard this was on me, but he also didn't want me to miss out on anything. Dad was always thinking of me, and I know he's always on the field with me now."
Taking a look around Orange County high school sports:
•The Pacifica baseball players have a pre-playoff hair-cutting tradition – three years ago, when these Mariners seniors were freshmen, the players went with Mohawks, then in the sophomore year it was Cheetah prints, and last year it was a bleached look. "So this year," Bethell said, "we brought them all together." That means the guys have Mohawks that are bleached on the sides with the Cheetah spots.
•Cypress's baseball team played Pacifica twice, both losses – the 2-1 loss on May 10, and a 3-1 loss in 15 innings on April 17 – and played Aliso Niguel once, a 3-0 loss in the Loara Tournament in early March. Cypress coach John Weber's assessment of the Aliso Niguel-Pacifica championship game: "It's going to come down to timely hits and some lucky breaks, because from what I hear (Aliso Niguel probable starting pitcher Brett) Barker is amazing on the mound, and (Pacifica projected starter Kyle) Davis might be the best competitor I've coached against in a long time."
•The entry into the Dodger Stadium parking lot is at its Elysian Park entrance; parking is free and is in Lot G. Entry into the stadium is through the left field, field level entrance near the left field foul pole.
•The baseball season does not end with the conclusion of the CIF playoffs. The Orange County All-Star Baseball Game is Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Glover Stadium in Anaheim. Admission is $5.
•Also coming up is the annual Senior Showcase, June 8 and 9 at Windrow Park in Irvine. On June 8, it is South Coast League vs. Century League at 4:30 p.m., and Freeway League vs. Pacific Cost League at 7:30 p.m. Saturday's games are Sea View vs. Empire at 1 p.m., and Trinity vs. Sunset at 4:30 p.m.
•Beckman baseball's loss to Alhambra in the Division 3 semifinals Tuesday concluded the high school career of outstanding pitcher James Kaprielian. His three years of varsity yielded these figures: 33 victories against three losses, eight saves, 11 shutouts, a 0.96 ERA, 250 strikeouts (including 112 this season) against 66 walks, and an opposing batting average of .163. Kaprielian signed with UCLA, and could be an early-round selection when the Major League Baseball draft begins Monday.
•Garden Grove is the only county softball team in the CIF-SS championships Friday and Saturday at Bill Barber Memorial Park in Irvine, where the Argonauts play Kaiser of Fontana at 7:30 p.m. Garden Grove coach John Petrie said this season's team is the most enjoyable he has coached in 16 years with the Argos, and not just because of all the winning. "We've had some good kids here in the past," Petrie said, "but this is the most fun I've ever had coaching, and I told these kids that at mid-season."
•Santa Margarita new boys basketball coach Jeff Reinert has this other job title at the school: International Students and Parish Relations Coordinator. Santa Margarita principal Ray Dunne explained, via email, that the school has experienced an increase in interest from overseas students, particularly from China and Korea, and the amount of paperwork and interviewing involved in getting such students into Santa Margarita required the need to create a position that could deal specifically with that. Parish Relations Coordinator works as the school's liaison with nearby parishes, and that position was added to Reinert's duties when it was vacated earlier this year.