For one glorious spring afternoon at Chatsworth High, the nine-time City champion baseball program sent a powerful message to the rest of the West Valley League and the City Section that the Chancellors have ambitions to return to the top, now that longtime Coach Tom Meusborn is back.
Playing flawless defense, executing on bunts and receiving one-hit pitching for six innings from sophomore Tommy Palomera, the Chancellors knocked off defending champion Birmingham, 10-0, on Wednesday in a league opener that ended in the bottom of the sixth via the mercy rule.
Chatsworth (8-3) scored eight runs in the sixth to break open a 2-0 game. Tanner Henry and Daniel Zakosek each had three hits and Sam Shaikin, Niko Switalla and Andrew Renteria finished with two apiece. Adrian Rodriguez, the City player of the year last season when Birmingham defeated Chatsworth, 6-3, at Dodger Stadium, took the loss.
Palomera lost only two games as a freshman -- both to Birmingham. "That's in the past," he said.
He struck out seven, walked two and gave up a double to Ryan Mendoza in the fourth inning.
"I just had to throw strikes and get ground balls," Palomera said.
Meusborn, who's won eight City titles as coach, returned this season after spending last year as an assistant at Cal State Northridge. Opponents had better understand what his presence means.
"It wasn't much of a change last year," All-City shortstop Shaikin said. "We still had the same philosophy. We wanted to execute and we did that today. It is a different feeling with Coach Meusborn here. He's a high-energy guy, loves to win, loves to compete and at the end of the day, just know as a player, you gave your best effort for him."
Birmingham (4-6) is struggling because of a lack of hitting. The Patriots still have plenty of time to solve their hitting woes, but they have to face Chatsworth again on Friday at home.
"We played solid for five innings, then the wheels fell off," Birmingham Coach Matt Mowry said. "We had a lot of swings and misses."