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Rick Auerbach’s supporters line up behind him

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Enthusiasm is growing for Rick Auerbach’s shot at the pros – this time in bowling.

Auerbach, a former major leaguer, has entered the West Coast Senior Tour tournament Aug. 16 at Buena Lanes in Ventura. The WCST attracts many of the top pro bowlers from California and Nevada and is open to players aged 60 and over.

The WCST caters to players with 200-plus averages. Johnnie Englehart, one of the super elite of Valley-area bowlers, has competed frequently on the tour. So has Robin Romeo, who recently claimed the 2014 United States Bowling Congress Senior Queens title in Reno, Nev.

Despite the stiff competiton he will face, Auerbach has no shortage of supporters rallying around him.

Said Bill Plummer, who bowled back-to-back perfect games this month: “The truth is, if [Auerbach] is on his game, he’s a professional too.

“He can do real well in that tournament. One of his biggest strengths is his mental approach to the game.”

The 64-year-old Auerbach, a Woodland Hills resident, compiled an 11-year major league career from 1971 to 1981, including three years with the Dodgers.

In the past few years, the right-handed Auerbach has joined the group of the most prolific Valley-area amateur bowlers. His entrance into the area’s elite essentially came in July 2012 when he crushed his first 800 series.

Auerbach smoked games of 276, 276 and 266 for an 818 series using an antiquated rubber ball at AMF Woodlake Lanes in Woodland Hills.

Auerbach plans to gear up for the tournament by getting in some practice at Buena Lanes with Richie Gardner, a top Valley bowler known for his explosive right-handed shot.

“I think he’s going to do awesome,” Gardner said. “A lot of the guys [in the tournament] have more experience, but they don’t have the heart and tenacity that [Auerbach] has.

“He’s a great competitor and can always rise up.”

Plummer pointed out that in such a tournament, “whether you win or lose, you always will improve.”

That has been Auerbach’s mantra since he announced two weeks ago that he would compete in his first WCST event. He said then that he wanted to participate in the event “for the experience. . . . If I get my butt kicked or not, I’ll be there.”

On Wednesday night while he was bowling at Corbin Bowl, Auerbach expressed confidence that he can do well.

“I’m going down there to win,” he said with a smile.

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