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Century League : Canyon’s Win Might Still Leave Comanches Shy of Title

Times Staff Writer

Canyon High School finished the regular season with its best record ever, but the Comanches may not even have a Century League championship to show for it.

Friday’s 11-4 win over Villa Park on the Spartans’ field improved Canyon to 19-3-1, but if Santa Ana can defeat El Modena today, the Saints will be the league champions.

Santa Ana and El Modena were scheduled to play Friday, but both Saint Coach Bill Ross and Vanguard Coach Don Mott agreed to postpone the game until noon today because only one umpire showed for Friday’s game.

The Comanches finished with an 11-2-1 league record (Santa Ana is 11-2) but may have to settle for second place. Both Canyon league losses were to Santa Ana.

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“This team does not deserve to be a second-place team,” Canyon Coach Hi Lavalle said. “It’s frustrating when you realize we might not come out of this with anything.”

Not all is lost.

The Comanches, at least, have some momentum going into the Southern Section 3-A playoffs, where they will be defending their conference championship. Canyon racked Villa Park for 15 hits Friday in what turned out to be an easy victory.

It didn’t start out that way, though. The Comanches opened with three runs in the first inning, but Villa Park came back with a run in the first and two in the second to challenge Canyon and its ace, right-hander Leonard Damian.

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A fastball and a curve may be two of the basic necessities of pitching, but Damian could not find either pitch in the early going Friday. He allowed five hits in two innings.

“I couldn’t get my pitches over in the first few innings,” Damian said. “Every now and then, that happens. I guess I don’t warm up enough or I have trouble adjusting to the mound. But my pitches started coming to me during the third and fourth innings.”

Damian found his groove in the third inning and allowed just four hits the rest of the way. He finished with a complete-game nine-hitter and struck out eight to improve his record to 9-2 and bring his season strike-out total to 82.

Damian also capped the day with a two-run home run in the seventh inning, his ninth of the season.

The Comanches got 13 hits in five innings off Villa Park starter and loser Brian Raum, who was making his third appearance since returning from a shoulder injury that forced him to miss most of the league season.

Without their best pitcher, the Spartans managed to win just four games and closed with a disappointing 4-9-1 record (5-16-1 overall).

“We just didn’t have anyone who could go after an opponent,” Villa Park Coach Dave Ochoa said. “That’s gotta be tough on our kids, who were so used to having Brian on the mound. It’s like the difference between driving a Cadillac and a V.W. You just feel better driving a Cadillac.”

Damian, Eric DeGraw, Pete Weber, Juston Mullinax and Todd French each had two hits for Canyon, and Damian, Weber, French and Steve Milledge each had two RBIs. Brad Sheridan was the only player with two hits for Villa Park.

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In other Century League action:

Tustin 8, Foothill 4--Dean Roberts had three doubles and scored three times as the Tillers clinched the league’s third and final playoff berth by beating the Knights at Tustin.

Tustin scored twice in the second inning, twice in the fourth and three in the fifth to take a 7-0 lead and then held on to beat their rivals for the third time without a defeat this season.

Steve Surico (8-3) went the distance and struck out 11 in getting the win. Mike Grahovac took the loss.

Mike Richovd added two hits and three RBIs for Tustin, and teammate Ken Lynch had two hits, including his first home run, and three RBIs.

Santa Ana at El Modena--The game was cancelled because only one umpire showed. It will be played today at noon at El Modena.

Orange 5, Santa Ana Valley 2--The Panthers broke a scoreless tie with when they got four runs in the third inning. Paul Bertrand, Tad Meyer (1 for 2) and John Cole (2 for 3) all had RBI singles in that inning.

Winning pitcher Paul Renner (4-3) allowed seven hits, struck out four and walked one. Jeff Welsh was 2 for 4 with one RBI and one run scored.

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