The situation, Gardena Coach Mike Sakurai believed, called for Marc Pfeiffer to take a pitch.
But Chatsworth Coach Bob Lofrano, whose top-seeded team was one out from being eliminated in the first round of the City 4-A baseball playoffs, told his center fielder that if the Chancellors were going to go down, they were going to go down swinging.
“He told me, ‘Go up there and don’t take a pitch. Get your three cuts in. Be aggressive,’ ” Pfeiffer said. “The pitch was perfect. It was inside, waist high.”
And Pfeiffer sent it rattling off the fence in left-center field for a two-run single in the seventh inning that gave Chatsworth a dramatic 4-3 victory.
Until then, Gardena had threatened to turn the taped organ music that Chatsworth plays between innings into a funeral dirge.
Gardena led, 3-2, and pitcher Ranfred Johnson was working on a one-hitter when he walked Ted Weisfuss, Chatsworth’s No. 9 batter, on four pitches with two outs in the seventh inning.
“In the last inning,” Lofrano said, “we were taking a strike, hoping to get the tying run on. And then, once the tying run got on, Glenn (Stevenson) got the go-ahead to hit, and so did Marc.”
Stevenson pounded Johnson’s next pitch into the ground toward second base, but second baseman Lee Tonai misplayed it, setting up Pfeiffer’s blast, which bounced off the fence just to the right of the 345-foot sign.
“I think (Johnson) might have been thinking that (Pfeiffer) wasn’t going to swing at it and probably brought it over (the middle of the plate), but the guy still has to hit the ball,” said Sakurai.
“The guy hit a good pitch. We knew they were going to be taking, and we told (Johnson) he’s got to get the fastball over, he’s got to get the first pitch over. But (Pfeiffer) just attacked the baseball. The hit wasn’t a chinker. But if we make the play on the ball Stevenson hit, the ballgame is won.”
And Chatsworth’s season would have ended. The Chancellors (19-1) have won 14 straight since losing to Simi Valley, 7-6, in the final game of the Monroe Tournament on April 2.
Gardena ended its season 15-11.
The Mohicans, who finished fourth in the Marine League, took advantage of a forgettable third inning--by Stevenson in particular and the Chatsworth defense in general--to score all of their runs.
Tony Dixon led off with a bouncer to short, which Stevenson didn’t charge, and beat it out for a single. One out later, Lee Tonai and Daniel Lewis singled to load the bases. After Johnson struck out, Lennis Tarver bounced a two-run single into right field that glanced off the glove of second baseman Juan Hernandez. Darin Uno then hit a grounder that went through Stevenson’s legs, scoring another run.
Stevenson, the Stanford-bound shortstop who also had two other errors, could have been speaking for his teammates when he said: “We all have our bad days. I don’t know if it was concentration or butterflies or what.”