Muir High nearly brought heartbreak to Simi Valley again. Nearly, but not quite.
The Mustangs, who won the Southern Section 4-A basketball championship by defeating Simi Valley two months ago, came close to upsetting the Pioneers in the first round of the 4-A Division baseball playoffs Friday at Simi Valley.
The Pioneers, limited to just five hits by Muir's Murph Proctor, used four walks in the bottom of the seventh inning, the last to Von Herron, to push across the final run in a 3-2 victory over Muir. Simi Valley, seeded No. 1 in the tournament, advances to Tuesday's second round against Santa Monica, which defeated Long Beach Poly, 3-0, Friday on a no-hitter by Greg Berlfein.
Proctor, who had doubled home the tying run in the top of the seventh, matched Simi Valley's Scott Radinsky pitch for pitch. After giving up a two-run home run in the second to Scott Sharts, Proctor limited the Pioneers to just two hits the rest of the game.
Still, that fact did little to console him after he had walked Herron on a 3-1 pitch to force home Paul Smith with the winning run.
"I'd rather have had him hit a homer than to have given up a walk," Proctor said after his record fell to 5-5. "I beat myself. They did not beat me."
Smith began the bottom of the seventh by drawing a walk after falling behind in the count, 1 and 2. Duane Mulville attempted to sacrifice, but struck out. The third strike eluded catcher Jose Sanchez, however, and Smith advanced to second.
Sharts was intentionally walked, bringing up Greg Gerber, who was pinch-hitting for Tim Laker. Gerber, a junior varsity player brought up for the playoffs, fell behind, 1 and 2, but worked Proctor for a walk.
Herron followed with a base on balls to give Simi Valley its 17th consecutive win. The Pioneers, ranked No. 1 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball magazine, are 24-3. Muir finished the season 12-9.
"This game put a definite scare into us," said Radinsky, who improved to 12-1. "I think this game will help us, because I don't think anyone wants to go through something like this again."
Radinsky, who struck out 12 to bring his season total to 159, was sailing along on a three-hitter until the seventh.
Radinsky got two strikes on Sanchez before giving up a single to center. In his previous at-bat, Sanchez struck out with the bases loaded in the fourth inning. Radinsky got Marlon Andrews on another strikeout to get out of that jam. But Andrews got a measure of revenge in the seventh by laying down a perfect bunt for a single. Sanchez, who had reached second on a wild pitch, went to third.
Anthony Collier lifted a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Sanchez. After catching the ball, Pioneer center fielder Shaun Murphy threw to first base in an attempt to double up Andrews, who was racing back to first.
But first baseman Sharts had run home to back up a play at the plate, and the ball rolled into the Muir dugout. Andrews was awarded third base.
Proctor doubled home the tying run and Josh Fleischman grounded out to second, sending Proctor to third. After Vince Phillips was intentionally walked, Radinsky induced Sidney Newton to hit a grounder to third baseman Mike Hankins, who gave the Simi Valley fans a scare by bobbling the ball.
But Hankins kept his composure and threw to first to beat a head-first slide by Newton.
"You've heard about winning ugly," Simi Valley Coach Mike Scyphers said, "well, it couldn't get any uglier for us than it was."
Ugly or not, the Pioneers will take it.