St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on July 17, 1989 · Page 98
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 98

St. Louis, Missouri
Issue Date:
Monday, July 17, 1989
Page 98
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ST. LOUIS PUbl -DISPATCH oMETRO SPORTS 6W MONDAY, JULY 17, 1989 BASEBALL Meramec's Baseball Trip By Cathie Burnes Beebe Of the Post-Dispatch Staff The thought first crossed John Reid's mind that he wanted to attend Stanford when he watched the Cardinal play Arizona State in the championship game of the College Baseball World Series two years ago. "I knew it was an excellent academic school," Reid said. "And I liked the fact that they were able to combine a great baseball program with the academics." Reid had the academic credentials to attend the Palo Alto, Calif., university. A Post-Dispatch scholar-athlete Cepicky Hopeful Of Catching On Scott Cepicky had a lot on his mind when he was drafted by the Chicago White Sox last month. Living away from the University of Wisconsin campus, where he spent four years as a punter on the football team and in the outfield with the baseball team, Cepicky was: Trying to figure out why two National Football League clubs cut him. . Hoping to show the White Sox he could play baseball. Searching for a dance club in Sarasota, Fla that played current music. Cepicky did not expect a change in position and his batting stance. He was drafted on June 20th by the White Sox in the 23rd round. He reported to the Sarasota club a few days later and began his career like many other rookies, in the Gulf Coast League. The White Sox knew something about Cepicky before they drafted him. Scout Larry Monroe watched him play in numerous Big 10 games and Cepicky was invited to a closed workout at Comiskey Park a week before the draft. ;The White Sox staff liked Cepicky's play in right field and at first base, but had other plans for him. Cepicky was told his future in the major leagues was as a catcher. "I haven't played catcher since I played American Legion baseball," Cepicky, a Vianney product, said. "It's not like I had never played catcher before but It was different. They told me that with my size (6-feet-4) and because I bat lefthanded, I would be a good catcher. The said they don't have too many good catchers in the organization so I can move up if I can learn to catch." Cepicky entered his job of learning to catch with a positive attitude. Sarasota manager Ed Pebley let Cepicky catch one game his first week with the team. "They put me in a game to give me a taste of it," Cepicky said. "Then I didn't play for 13 straight days. I spent most of the time in the bullpen warming up pitchers and doing drills. They work you on blocking balls, throwing and learning the signs. The signs we ue are unbelievable and tough to learn. They're almost impossible." . Blocking balls wasn't the toughest part of his training, Cepicky said. He is used to young, wild pitchers firing the ball at his body. Learning signs and the various defenses was more difficult. "We have a defense for a bunt and a defense for first and third situations and all sorts of other defenses," Cepicky said. "We just don't warm up pitchers in the bullpen, we work. You get high school kids here who can't throw a curve and they beat you up pretty good." Showing his manager he can handle Hancock's Brown Stays On The Ball By Earl Austin Jr. Of the Post-Dispatch Staff It is time to guard the basketballs when Paul Brown steps on the floor for a game. A senior-to-be at Hancock High, Birown is a master at taking the ball away. Whether the opponent is dribbling, passing or making a move inside, Brown always seems to find his way around. l'.'The ball is never safe when Paul is on the floor," local talent scout Rick Ball said. "You have to protect the ball around him." '.Most of the time, you don't know where Brown is coming from. That also could describe his growing reputation as a top guard. Brown's ability to steal the ball is only one part of his game that will make him one of the area's top guards next season. He enjoyed an excellent junior season, but not many people noticed because he plays at a small school and he played inside despite being only 5 feet 11. Brown averaged 24.3 points with a high of 39 against Naval Jr. ROTC in the district playoffs. That performance came against another top guard, Stacey Ross. He also averaged six rebounds a game with 101 assists and 81 steals. Brown was one of the top players in the Suburban East Conference, earning first-team honors. "We play against a lot of good small schools, but it is still tough to get noticed," Brown said. "I'm hoping to get some exposure this summer that I wouldn't get during the season." from Lindbergh High School, he finished fourth in his graduation class in 1987; honors courses raised his accumulative grade-point average to 4.1. "But I didn't know whether I could make it there as a pitcher," Reid said. Two years at Meramec Community College, where he was constantly under the watchful eye of coach Ric Lessmann, honed his considerable skills. Just as important, he gained 30 pounds to begin to fill out his 6-foot-5-inch frame. A Stanford coach saw him this spring and when the Cardinal staff made him an offer, Reid could not refuse. the position is another job Cepicky is trying to win. Without getting to play each day, Cepicky has found the task tough. "Not playing every day hurts," Cepicky said. "Getting to swing every day and catch every day and getting better and better is what you want. You want to prove yourself and it's tough when you can't. I have to earn their respect first." Despite some bumps and bruises, Cepicky is handling his new position well. Cepicky said that while his arm is strong he isn't used to making a quick throw to second or third base. "I'm used to maybe three or four throws a game from the outfield," Cepicky said. "As a catcher, I have to make a quick, compact, almost a snap throw to second or third. But I'm learning and having fun." Cepicky experienced his other change a few days after he joined the Sarasota team. In an intrasquad game, Cepicky hit a home run and was feeling pretty good as he rounded third base. "I rounded third base and the coach Ernie Rosseau told me right then that he was going to change my batting stance," Cepicky said. "I got back to the dugout and he told me that I hit a change-up and that I was strong and could hit any pitch out, if I changed my stance." Cepicky described his old stance as a "George Hendrick style, straight up and down." His new stance, he said, "is more like George Brett, staying back on the ball and driving the ball." Cepicky said the change was hard to accept at first because hts old stance helped him hit .333 his final year at Wisconsin, second highest on the team. He had 11 home runs and 33 RBI. Cepicky holds career records at the school for home runs (38), runs batted in (168) and hits (217). The change has helped. Cepicky was hitting .238 before the change and he's raised his average to .270 in two weeks. He said his average will continue to climb with time. "When you swing a certain way for 20 years, it's kind of hard to change over," Cepicky said. "I'm getting used to it, just like I am getting used to catching. "There are no fastballs down here. You play mostly against high school pitchers and you say to yourself that you know you can hit these guys." Cepicky even has attempted to learn another position designated hitter. With 45 players on the team, including three catchers, Cepicky said trying just about everything could make the difference. He also has played first base in four games. "I have to put my time in before I prove myself," Cepicky said. "It's nice going to the plate fresh four times a . game. I always wondered what it BASKETBALL Brown has earned a lot of respect with his spirited play this summer. He is going with Ball's BCI team that is going to Chicago in two weeks for a summer league tournament. He is playing with such area standouts as Cuonzo Martin of Lincoln and Kevin Washington of Soldan. He showed up at the tryouts without much of a reputation, but made the team with excellent quickness and all-out hustle throughout the tryout sessions. Ball had never seen Brown play before the BCI tryout camp. He brought him in on the recommendation of former Northwest High basketball coach Alvin Smith. "He was a pleasant surprise," Ball said. "He played great in the tryouts and he made the team. He's got great quickness and his lateral movement is scary. We don't keep stats, but he is averaging three or four steals a game and that is playing only half the game." "I'm happy to be doing well this summer," Brown said. "I feel confident that I can play against the top competition in the areas. I feel I have a lot to prove because I come from a small school. I also get a chance to learn something in the process. All I want to do is play hard and hustle every minute that I'm on the court." Brown has surprised himself in his ability to play well at the guard position. He is getting that chance to do that on a full-time basis this summer and he is handling it well. His game is penetration, but he's more comfort-See BROWN, Page 7 "When I was accepted there it was a thrill," Reid said. When Lessmann first evaluated Reid, the coach came up with two main conclusions: the velocity on his fastball had to improve, and Reid had to get stronger. "We know how to teach pitching fundamentals here and we could see that John had a lot of potential," Lessmann said. "When John first came here he only weighed 165 pounds. We encourage weight training and he took to that very well. "His fastball was only timed at 78 miles per hour. Now he's up to 82 Gary BohnPost-Dispatch Scott Cepicky receives congratulations from his hitting prowess and his willingness to be-teammates after a home run in a Metro Colle- . come a catcher will help him move up in trie gians Instructional League game. He is hoping Chicago White Sox organization. would be like as a DH. First base is no . big deal because I've played first before. I've been taking a lot of ground balls and working on my footwork around the bag." The Gulf Coast League seasons ends Aug. 31 but Cepicky said he would like to be asked to play over the winter or in the instructional league. If not, he will go back to Madison, Wise, to finish his history degree this fall. Ce 1 C On The Block Vashon graduate Melvin Robinson (51), who will play for St. Louis University this season, attempts to block the shot of Nick Migliorino of the Oklahoma Trotters in the Ozark Amateur Athletic Union Carrier Invitational Basketball Tournament at O'Fallon Tech High School. Leads Reid To Stanford miles per hour and I projected to the Stanford people that by the time he's a senior it will be up to 85-86 miles per hour." If the fastball was Reid's only pitch, a mid-80s fastball probably wouldn't raise many eyebrows. But even at Lindbergh, Reid had some nasty breaking pitches, which made his fastball that much more effective. "Even my fastball tends to move away from righthanded hitters," Reid said. "But in high school if you got the breaking ball over you were likely to get the batter out." Added Lessmann: "He had real picky is seven hours short of graduating. When he's not playing baseball, Cepicky will look for work in the entertainment field. He wants to be a disc jockey at a dance or nightclub. "They don't play any modern music in Sarasota," Cepicky said. "They're into older music down here and I can't stand oldies.. I've only found one place in Sarasota that plays the music I like. Wendi K. BrownPost-Dispatch I--' ' '"'i-'tii ni' I f ;- VV vV good command of his breaking pitches and he really improved off the stretch position." By the time Reid was a sophomore, Lessmann decided he was major-college material and started talking to coaches about him. Because Reid was an academic standout as well he graduated from Meramec with a 3.9 grade-point average Lessmann contacted Stanford, where he had placed players In the past. Deciding where to send players is a serious business for Lessmann, who has been coaching for 23 years. "I've got to decide whether a player I like playing the records and I like the atmosphere of a club." Cepicky hasn't ruled out football altogether. He averaged 39.5 yards a kick for the Badgers his final season in 1987. Cepicky wasn't picked in the NFL draft but the Cincinnati Bengals signed him as a free agent during the preseason. He punted tjiree times in the NFL Hall of Fame game against See CEPICKY, Page 7 SOCCER Busch Under-16Team Reaches Niotis Semis The conditions were less than ideal, but the Busch Soccer Club's Under-16 boys team wouldn't be stopped. "We felt we were the best team and the kids went out and proved it," coach Wally Werner said of Busch's championship performance in the Midwest Regionals earlier this month in Omaha, Neb. 'The temperatures were 100-plus and the ground was real rough because of the drought. But we managed to get the job done." In reality, the harsh weather may have worked to Busch's advantage. Because of the intense heat, the tournament officials elected to use free substitution. "Our depth was definitely a key," said Werner, whose team finished as Under-14 runners-up two years ago in Minnesota. "We have a full roster of 18 and we were able to run in fresh players throughout the tournament." The Busch Under-16s squad will play the winner of the West Regional in the Niotis Cup semifinals July 27 in Uniondale, N.Y. The championship and consolation games will be played July 29. Busch is headed to the Niotis Cup nationals for the third consecutive year. Carl Gentile's team finished second in 1987; Lou Pessoni's club is the defending champion. "Win or lose, we feel we've earned our spot as one of the top teams in the nation," Werner said. "We know the competition will be very good, but we feel we have as good a chance as anybody else." Busch, which carried a record of 46-1-2 into last weekend's Busch Tournament, prepared itself with a chal- is NCAA Division I, Division II or NAIA," Lessmann said. "If I push a player toward a Division I program when I know he's not that good it's going to hurt my chances of placing a player in the future." "We had a trip to San Francisco where we were going to play several games," Lessmann said. "I set up a tour of Stanford and the kids had a chance to see the school and meet the coaches. One of the coaches went with us when we played West Valley a California junior college so that he See REID, Page 7 Neel Fills Role Of Leader By Earl Austin Jr. Of theost-Dispatch Staff Todd Neel probably will make a fine baseball coach someday. In fact, he is trying to get a head start while still in school. A recent graduate of Hazelwood East, Neel is one of the top players for T.A. McGuire Post this summer in the American Legion District 10. Neel is one of top hitters in a talented batting order, but manager Dave Harmon likes to talk about his leadership and thinking ability on the field. "Baseball Is a thinking-man's game and Todd certainly does that," Harmon said. "There is no doubt that he makes coaching easier for me." "I've always wanted to be a team leader," Neel said. "My high school coach Ken Green likes players who go out there and take control. I wanted it to carry over into this summer." Harmon considers Neel a coach on the field and Neel tries to play that role out to its fullest. Harmon always jokes about how Neel might be looking for his job. "I guess I'll have to hire him on as an assistant coach next year," Harmon said. "Whenever a pitcher makes a mistake and I go'out there to the mound, Todd comes over from first base and talks to him before I can even get there. By the time he's done talking, he has said everything that I was going to say." "I just like to keep myself and the other guys In the game," Neel said. Neel does a lot more than play the leadership role on the field. He Is an excellent first baseman with an excellent bat. He hits fourth in the lineup, thus forming a potent 1-2 hitting combination with Lutheran North graduate Scott Nierman. Neel is hitting .392 with three home runs and 15 runs batted in, with two of those homers coming in a game against Affton. The average is an improvement on his high school season when he hit .316. Neel played on the winning North team in the District 10 Ail-Star game last week at Heine Meine Field. Coaches says the only drawback in his game is his lack of speed. "It's been a pretty good year for me," Neel said. "Our team hasn't done so well because we haven't been able to put it together. Hopefully, we can get things going in the playoffs." "He's shown a lot of improvement in his hitting," Harmon said. "Last year, he used to swing at everything. Now, he's being more patient and the results have been evident. He's pretty much a pull hitter. If he had any kind of speed, he would have about 10 See NEEL, Page 7 Ipnpinp srhedule that combined local play with a number of top-flight tournaments. "We've challenged these kids and they've responded to every challenge," said Werner, who's assisted by Jim Brinkman and Paul Kluba. "We've played some excellent teams and I think the competition has helped bring out the best in us. "When we beat Scott-Gallaher 2-1 in overtime for the Missouri Cup, it was a great game against an excellent opponent. Winning games like that does a lot for the confidence of your team." In Omaha, Busch beat teams from Indiana (3-0) and Kentucky (2-0) before tying Wisconsin (1-1) to win its division. Werner's club beat Illinois 3-1 to earn the right to play Wisconsin again for the title. Wisconsin controlled play in the first half, but Busch combined the outstanding goalkeeping by John Kluba and a fluke goal to take a 1-0 advantage to halftime. "We were very fortunate," Werner said. "John made some excellent stops to keep us In the game and we managed to come up with a key goal. Joe Thomure sent a corner kick across the goal mouth that deflected off one of their defenders and into the net." Busch played much better in the second half, adding an insurance goal from Matt McAvin. "That was the turning point of the game," Werner said of McAvin's goal. "It was just a tremendous individual effort. Matt intercepted a pass near See CHAMPS, Page 7 r )

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