Camarillo, Against All Odds, Upsets Simi

In a day for firsts, Simi Valley High baseball Coach Mike Scyphers was second-guessing.

Simi, of course, was a favorite to win the league title. And for much of the season, the Pioneers didn't disappoint. Until Wednesday.

Behind a five-hitter by Charlie Fiacco and timely hitting and defense from Scott Cline, Camarillo continued a resurgence from an early season slump to take a half-game lead in the Marmonte League with a 3-2 upset.

And Simi (8-3, 22-4) is no longer the favorite.

"Up until today, every decision made by me and my coaching staff was the right one, but not today," Scyphers said. "In this game more so than any other this season, I second-guess myself.

"We have nobody to blame but ourselves," he said. "It's kind of tough, though, when you play 25 games and then it comes down to one."

The tone was not so glum for Camarillo.

Pitcher Fiacco and shortstop Cline were on a postgame radio show. Teammates slapped each other's hands. And the dugout bristled with glee.

What seemed like just an ordinary day at the ballpark wasn't.

Camarillo (8-2, 16-7) has had to scrape this season. Wednesday the Scorpions all but cleaned up. Only Royal and Thousand Oaks stand in their way. Simi has one game left, against Royal.

But in this game, the pitching of Fiacco was almost enough in itself.

The UCLA-bound senior right-hander, who was a third baseman until injuries dictated his move to the mound, shut down the powerful Simi lineup after a shaky first inning.

In fact, only one Simi Valley run was earned. Duane Mulville scored the Pioneers' first run in the third inning on a balk when Fiacco was cited for stepping off the rubber with the wrong foot.

"I didn't even know that was a balk," he said. "It seems like I step off the rubber the same all the time. But coach said it was a balk, too."

Simi scored again in the fourth on a throwing error by Chris Lillich, playing in place of Fiacco at third.

"Even the two runs we scored weren't really earned," Scyphers said in praise of Fiacco's effort. "When he mixes in his curveball like that, he's really tough to beat. I can see why he's going to be playing Division I ball."

Fiacco struck out seven and walked two to earn the victory.

Like Simi, just one of Camarillo's runs was unearned. The Scorpions got their break in the second inning when shortstop Dave Milstein misplayed a Kevin Madden chopper. After Hugh Heath singled, Madden scored on Lillich's fielder's choice.

The Scorpions completed the scoring in the fourth, chasing Simi ace Sean Harrigan on two singles and a pair of walks. Angel Barroso singled in Travis Willis to tie the game at 2-2 before Brad Billips scored the game-winner on Cline's sacrifice fly.

In the end, Wagner was in the unlikely position of consoling Scyphers, whose team was favored even by Scorpion fans in the Camarillo stands.

But as Wagner tells it, he anticipated the scenario all the way.

"We just felt good to be in the situation to play one game where we could be this close," Camarillo Coach Ken Wagner said. "They (Simi) have been such a good team all year that we felt it would be tough for them to get up for just one game, especially at our place.

"But our kids were loose, and they made the plays today."

As a result, the team that was supposed to be in first place isn't.

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