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Baseball notes: Zamora closing in on 700th win
(Editor's note: The story has been updated to correct an error regarding the retirement date of Dave Demarest.)
It won’t happen this week, but soon enough Capistrano Valley coach Bob Zamora is going to reach a milestone that makes headlines, as well as add to his legacy as one of the greatest baseball coaches in Orange County history.
Zamora is closing in on his 700th victory, all of them with the Cougars. In his 39th season as their coach, Zamora, 69, has 696 wins, one reason the school named its baseball field after him.
Former La Quinta coach Dave Demarest holds the county record for most wins. He retired in 2007 with 753.
Zamora laughed Monday when asked what it means to be so close to adding another significant achievement to his already lengthy resume.
“Oh my goodness. It means I'm old,” Zamora said. “To me they're just numbers. I don't pay attention to that stuff.
“What’s important is that the game is still fun, and I enjoy being around good players, and we have some good players ... in our program. That’s what keeps me going.”
Zamora said an emerging star in the program is sophomore first baseman Connor Martin, who piled up impressive hitting stats last week in the Anaheim Lions Tournament: 12 of 21, 12 RBI in five games. Martin’s average for the season is .479.
Also during the tournament, senior Jeremy Taylor struck out 14 in a win over McQueen of Reno, Nev., and senior Zak Herbers earned a win while lowering his ERA to 1.69.
“Taylor, (Austin) Moreira and Herbers, those three seniors are showing the leadership, and we have Connor Martin and some of the sophomores playing well,” Zamora said.
The Cougars (8-6 overall) return to South Coast League play this week. They lost to Aliso Niguel, 3-1, on Monday afternoon, dropping their league record to 0-3. Today, they face Dana Hills.
“All of the games, for the most part, are tight games,” Zamora said. “That's what makes it fun. … What fun is it beating up on weaker teams? I like the challenge of being in this league with so many good teams.”
ALSO MOVING UP
Esperanza’s Mike Curran is also closing in on a coaching milestone of sorts. He has 742 wins, leaving him just 11 shy of Demarest’s total.
Curran, who earned his first 100 wins outside the county, at St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs, said his focus right now is on his team, which last week came close to reaching the National Classic final. The Aztecs (11-5) lost in the semifinals to El Toro, 3-2, and went on to defeat state-ranked De La Salle of Concord in the third-place game.
“That is a good show there, lots of good teams,” Curran said of the National Classic. “So that was encouraging. We’ve also had a good start in league, but now we have a tough week with a couple of games against Canyon.”
Curran praised Ryan Rafferty and Erick Leef for their effectiveness at the top of the Aztecs’ lineup.
“Those guys have really got us going,” he said. “They were on base continuously in the National Classic. They had a big impact for us.”
Senior pitcher Ryan Wilson, who shut out Gahr of Cerritos, 4-0, was named all-tournament.
“He's done a tremendous job for us,” Curran said of Wilson. “In his last 13 innings he's allowed one earned run.”
A LOOK BACK
Among last week’s highlights was Marina winning the Lemmon Tournament by beating Long Beach Millikan, 2-1, in nine innings in the championship game.
The Vikings thrived in close games, beating Paramount, 9-8, Woodbridge, 3-2, and Long Beach Poly, 8-6, on consecutive nights to reach the final.
That should be a confidence builder for the Vikings (10-6) as they go back into Sunset League play this week.
Sonora also won a tournament (Anaheim Lions) last week, while JSerra (Boras Classic) and El Toro (National Classic) got to tournament finals but lost.
The Santa Ana Elks Tournament started this past Saturday and continues this week. The championship game is Wednesday at Century at 7 p.m.
The Beach Pit Classic also continues this week and wraps up Wednesday.
Steve Fryer’s weekly rankings of the 11-25 teams in the county will resume when he returns from vacation on April 18.
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