Darryl Stroh was fuming.
“Oh, we just had great pitching and hitting,” the Granada Hills baseball coach said, his words rich with sarcasm. “We’re really good. We’re 7-2 in league and we’re really playing great.”
After Tuesday afternoon’s game against cross-town rival Kennedy, Stroh gave his team a strong tongue-lashing.
Never mind that Granada won, 11-10, in a wild, Mid-Valley League game at Kennedy. Stroh was upset with his team’s nagging habit of letting a comfortable lead dwindle to a precious run in both the sixth and seventh innings.
If anyone had a right to be miffed, it was Kennedy Coach Dick Whitney. He watched his Golden Cougars make seven errors and allow an alarming nine unearned runs in falling to 4-5 in league play.
“Well, we certainly were nice again,” Whitney said. If the Kennedy coach was terribly upset, he did a good job of hiding it.
“The errors, what can I say?” Whitney said. “We battled them. We showed a little more than we had in the last few games. This was a pretty darned good high school game.”
And a relatively quiet one for the first 4 1/2 innings.
Paul Plyler, Kennedy’s starting pitcher, could not find the plate in the first inning. He walked four of the first five batters he faced and was finally lifted after falling behind 2-0 to Dean Yoshitani. Eric Evans came in, threw two more balls to Yoshitani to make it 2-0, then struck out the next two batters.
Kennedy scored three runs in the third and single runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
It was during Kennedy’s at-bat in the fifth that things became interesting. First, home plate umpire Tom Thompson ejected Granada Hills’ assistant coach Tim Collins for arguing.
Evans was at the plate immediately after the ejection. The first pitch from Leo Clouser nailed Evans in the side. The two players had a long stare at each other as Evans went to first.
Jeff Burton followed with a single to make it 5-2 Kennedy. The first time the teams played this year, Kennedy had a 6-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning before making four errors and losing, 13-6.
This time, Kennedy made three errors in the sixth inning, allowing six unearned runs to score. The key miscue was an error by second baseman Doug Anderson.
Granada trailed 5-4 and had a man at second with two out when Scott Stewart hit a slow chopper to Anderson, whose throw got past Evans, who was covering first. Scott Tosti raced home with the tying run.
Lee Skolnick came in to pitch and walked three straight to make it 6-5 Granada. Mark Kessler then hit a grounder to first baseman Al Pincay, who threw the ball away, letting two more runs come in.
Kennedy scored twice in the bottom of the sixth, Greg Fowble’s throwing error plating one run. But Granada got three more in the top of the seventh, an errant pick-off attempt by Skolnick allowing still two more runs to score.
But if Granada thought it was in fine shape with an 11-7 lead, Kennedy quickly dispelled that idea.
Tony Beneduce replaced Clouser in the seventh and gave up a two-out, two-run double to Greg Synnott. Fowble, attempting to get the second runner, threw the relay from left over the backstop, allowing Synott to score and make it 11-10.
Beneduce walked Kevin Farlow and was replaced by Tosti, who walked George Gonzalez. But Tosti then struck out Anderson to end a wild afternoon.