Baseball BeatJune 04, 2006
Lakewood Beats Blue-Chip Stock to Win CIF Championship
By Rich Lederer

Lakewood High School, my alma mater, beat Agoura in the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Division I championship, 2-1, at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on a warm Saturday evening to capture its fifth CIF title since the school was founded in 1957. Agoura, the #1 ranked team in the country when the season began, featured Robert Stock, Baseball America's 2005 Youth Player of the Year.

Keith Chipman (13-1, 1.07) was the winning pitcher while Stock (5-3, 2.70) was saddled with the loss. The latter threw six scoreless innings and then gave up the decisive runs in the bottom of the seventh as David Ross laced a groundball double that skipped over first base to score the tying and winning runs. Stock (.456/.588/.756), a catcher by trade, led off for the Chargers and went 3-for-3 with three hard-hit singles and an intentional walk. He has a great stroke at the plate and a strong arm.

I sat behind the Chipman family by coincidence, just to the left of home plate and a few aisles over from Bret Saberhagen, the two-time Cy Young Award winner and currently the head coach at Calabasas High School (which plays in the Marmonte League with Agoura). A 6-foot-1, 170-pound senior, Chipman throws strikes and keeps hitters off balance with a good, looping curveball. Stock, on the other hand, has a fastball that has reportedly touched the mid-90s on the radar gun. He appeared to be throwing around 90-mph to the naked eye along with a curve and an outstanding changeup, especially for a kid who wasn't old enough to get a driver's license until last November.

A junior, Stock was also Baseball America's best 13-year-old in 2003, best 14-year-old in 2004, and last year's best 15-year-old. He follows Delmon Young, Nick Adenhart, and Cameron Maybin as BA's Youth Player of the Year and is the first underclassman to earn this honor. Two summers ago, Stock became the youngest player ever to make Team USA's national team. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Stock is a special talent who would be among the top draft choices on Tuesday if he was eligible.

Lakewood's victory may have been sealed earlier that evening when Damion Easley, the star of the 1987 LHS team that won the school's last CIF championship, hit three home runs for the Arizona Diamondbacks. I mean, that's gotta be The Omen when a former player by that first name goes yard three times and drives in a career-high seven runs on the very same day!

Speaking of old (so to speak) Lancers, my brother Tom was the winning pitcher in the very same game 36 years ago when Lakewood defeated Ventura High School at Anaheim Stadium. George Brett played shortstop and Scott McGregor was the starting pitcher for El Segundo High School in the preliminary game that night. Tom was first team All-CIF with a 10-0 record and an ERA of 1.53. For perspective, Fred Lynn (El Monte High School) was on the second team.

Tom picked off the tying run at second base in a timing play with his second baseman, Kim Hannaford, who went on to play at Stanford University. Four years earlier, Tom and Kim were two of the star players on the Lakewood Pony League All-Star team that went to the World Series in Ralston, Nebraska. Interestingly, this year's Lakewood team had only two seniors among its starters. The rest of the lineup was comprised of a junior class that won the Pony League World Series three years earlier and a sophomore who led off the last inning with a double down the left-field line.

Lakewood has produced over 50 professional baseball players and 12 major leaguers, including Larry Casian, Floyd Chiffer, Easley, Bruce Ellingsen, Mike Fitzgerald, John Flannery, Rod Gaspar, Chris Gomez, Craig Grebeck, Dave Marshall, Tony Muser, and Jim Strickland. The school has had only three baseball coaches--Artie Boyd, John Herbold, and Spud O'Neil--in the last 45 years. O'Neil has a career record of 569-205 and has won 14 Moore League titles and two CIF championships.

Mike Ruddell of the Class of 1969 sat one aisle over from my brother behind the Lakewood dugout on the third-base side. He was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 4th round (84th overall) of the 1969 amateur draft in June and pitched two no-hitters in the same minor-league season. Mike and Don Gullett were teammates on the Sioux Falls Packers in the Northern League (Single-A). His Dad was my Colt League All-Star coach in 1970.

Russ McQueen, who like Tom was Ruddell's teammate in 1969 and an All-CIF selection in 1970, won four College World Series titles as a pitcher for the USC Trojans from 1971-74. McQueen was the CWS MVP in 1972 and was selected on the All-Decade team for the 1970s. He was drafted by the California Angels in the 14th round in June 1974.

Clint Myers, who played third base on the 1970 Lakewood team, is the Head Softball Coach at Arizona State University. His Sun Devils were eliminated from the College World Series about an hour before the first pitch of the 2006 CIF game was thrown. Myers played his college ball at ASU and was a member of the CWS runner-up in 1972 and 1973 before being drafted in the third round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1973.

Clint's oldest son, Casey, also played and starred for the Sun Devils, winning the Pacific-10 Conference Player of the Year honors in 2000 and 2001. He played five years in the Oakland A's minor league system. Clint's youngest son, Corey (Desert Vista HS in Phoenix), was chosen by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 1st round (4th overall) of the 1999 amateur draft. He has played in the minors for eight seasons, including the Salt Lake Bees in 2006.

Lakewood High School has had a history of great baseball teams and players. This year's squad has just perpetuated that tradition and should be one of the favorites to win its sixth CIF championship next season when all but two starters return to defend their title.


As a recent LHS alumnus, I can't be any more prouder of what our team has accomplished, finally solving the mystery of Robert Stock at the perfect time in the game, the bottom of the 7th. I think we'll be ready to forge a sort of...wait for it......dynasty?

Jo-Ryan Salazar
Lakewood Class of '02

Wow -- that's a lot of big or semi-big names attatched to this game, directly or indirectly. When my high school baseball team made the Oregon state finals my senior year, the best player involved in the game was a teammate of mine who eventually went on to play semipro ball. And there certainly wasn't a major leaguer of the caliber of Saberhagen coaching anywhere in the state. There was a rumor once that Dale Murphy was going to show up for a game we played against Wilson, his old high school, once. He didn't.

That said, the LA area has a population roughly five times the size of the entire state of Oregon. Maybe that has something to do with it.

Anyway, congrats to your alma mommy.

And you think five is something special?

My alma mater scoffs at Lakewood High. :-)

congratulations to lakewood... i play on the wilson varsity baseball team. as much as we felt we should have been there, its good that someone from our league not only played in the final but won it... congrats to coach oneill, nuez, viera, and the rest of the team.

A big WOOT! for the Lancers (though I went to arch-rival Poly High). Keith Chipman is the younger brother of one of the guys on my softball team, and it's great to see him get some glory. He doesn't light up the gun like some of the big prospects do, but we're all hoping that, down the road, he gets a shot with some organization. Congrats, Keith!

My son Matt Nuez has won as a player a CIF Championship(Lakewood '88), JC State Championship (Harbor '90) and NCAA Championship(Pepperdine- '92), but as the dad of a coach, the win over Agoura and Lakewood's CIF D-1 Championship was more gratifying because Coach Nuez has made more of a differnce for his ball players. Congratulations son!

Mr. Nuez,

Your son has quite a resume and those of us who follow Lakewood baseball are very much aware of it. He had a lot of success as a player and is in the process of doing likewise as a coach.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if Matt winds up being the next head coach at Lakewood. If so, I hope and trust that he can maintain and build upon the tradition established by Messrs. Boyd, Herbold, and O'Neil.

Go Lancers!

Get real Bob T. Don't scoff or dismiss the CIF Southern Section and Lakewood's recent SS D-1 Championship. We have more schools out here; 7 Divsions and we certainly would out distance the City Section in a Power Ranking comparison. Let The Baseball Analyst make that comparison!

Mr. Rich Lederer,

Could you e mail me please? I would like to talk Lakewood baseball with you.
I'm one of three guys who put together a web site for Heartwell Pony/Colt at Most of the guys you talked about have been through the Heartwell system one way or another. I looking for History on guys who where studs and fizzled out, and the ones who never made All Stars but became stars in there own right.

There is a lot of History at Heartwell. I just need someone like yourself to help us find some.

Thanks for your time

As one of the 50 pro baseball players from Lakewood High, as well as a Heartwell World Series player in '87, I cannot say enough how proud I am of the Lancers. Coach O'Neil does more than create well-rounded baseball players; he creates men from boys. It couldn't happen to a better person.

FYI, Les- feel free to drop me an email if you need any info on the 1987 team.


Mr. Nuez -- Your son Matt is a class act. Our paths crossed on the Lakewood team when he was a sophomore and I was a senior, and I'll never forget the way he comported himself, then and after.

Les -- I played Heartwell Pony/Colt from around 1982-85, to no particularly great effect (though it included John Buck's first year as a coach, which I could tell even then was going to be the start of something very interesting). My age-group included Brian Hunter & Dave Hansen (both of Al Weiner's Cobras). John Buck giving me the 1982 Bill James Baseball Abstract was one of the main factors pointing me in the direction of journalism. That, and the fact I couldn't stay back on the breaking stuff.

Peng & Chase -- Nice to see some Moore League solidarity & class.

As a retired Lakewood High School Teacher it was great pleasure and joy to read of Lakewood's success in winning yet another CIF title. I am proud of Spud and the team. I can remember Spud's first day on the job at Lakewood. Spud, a Viet Nam Vet with an easy grin, had the perfect name for a baseball coach and took over for John Herbold without missing a step.

I am delighted to read such an outstanding young man as Matt Nuez is coaching and helping Lakewood. I can remember many things about Matt: the impression he made on us at the Lakewood Hall of Fame Banquet the year his mother was to die, emotionally accepting an award in her name. The day I put on the blackboard Hemminmgway's "grace under pressure" quote to illuminate the outstanding game Matt had the day before. What a super young man he was then.
And Larry Casian - how nice to see his name and to think back on that lively, handsome boy who did so well and always had so much fun.
And thanks for the information on Clint Myers. He too was an exceptionally likable young man, who if I remember rightly, got along pretty well with the female tennis players who, during their competition years, shared the same corner of the school campus. Reading about his successes and his family is great fun. I wonder did he marry his high school sweetheart?

Thanks again.
Pat Gonzales

thank you to everyone that came to the game to support me and my team. We worked hard day in and day out, coach Nuez pushed us to the limits and it all payed off. We didn't just do it for ourselfs but our family and all of you. We weren't going to let u down. Again thanks for coming and congradulations to all of you because we have a saying on our team if we win everyone who supports us wins. Thanks you all

1987 vs 2006 - 87 dominates without any problem, the hitting in 87 was far better than this years team, and the pitching with McNary was all but as good. Hopefully it won't be another 20 years before they win again.

I am very proud to say my son Cory was on the LHS Championship team this year. Cory and I now share what we think is an uncommon achievement for a father and son...we won a CIF Baseball Championship for the same school and even the same coach (1987 & 2006). Even more interesting is that we also share this achievement with his step-father Fred Pena.

The tradition of LHS baseball is alive and well. With the group returning to the field next year, they are sure to make a strong run at another championship.