The baseball field at College of the Canyons long has been known as a hitter's ballpark and opposing coaches have been known to mutter a few obscenities when describing it. Call it the Temple of Boom.
But Moorpark Coach Ron Stillwell on Thursday spoke of Canyons' field more in amazement than in disgust.
"In this ballpark, every ball hit is an adventure," he said.
Stillwell, who had just watched Canyons knock out 12 hits for a 10-8 Western State Conference win, agreed that the short fences are there for everybody and what one needs in a hitter's ball park is, simply, hitters.
"And they have them," Stillwell said. "A solid lineup."
Canyons (10-3, 6-0) also has a two-game lead on Moorpark (9-8, 4-2) in the WSC's Southern Division. Both teams play a doubleheader away against Northern Division teams--Canyons at Santa Barbara and Moorpark at Hancock--on Saturday. Thursday's win takes some pressure off Canyons and dumps it on Moorpark.
"Those games are tough enough to win anyway," Stillwell said. "But we still have another shot at Canyons. We see them one more time, and at our place."
Canyons has won at Moorpark once this season and did it the same way it beat the Raiders on Thursday--with the long ball. The Cougars also got some nifty relief work from pitcher Chris Zavatsky.
Zavatsky gave up two runs on two hits in the top of the ninth when he came in with the bases loaded. But he then struck out two and got Moorpark's Duane Mullville to fly out to end the game.
"Hey, he gave up two hits, but he got the win," Canyons Coach Len Mohney said. "He's the kind of guy you want out there when the game's on the line."
Canyons starter Fred Riscen is normally the kind of pitcher you want out there all the time, but he had a shaky start.
Moorpark scored two runs on an error and a single in the first and extended its lead to 4-0, in the fourth. Corey Aurand opened the fourth with a single. Dan Russell followed with a double to left. When Canyons left fielder Len Hokanson had trouble fielding the ball, Aurand scored and Russell went to third. Ed Hall then singled in Russell.
Hokanson redeemed himself in the bottom of the fourth by hitting a solo home run off Jon DeGennaro, who retired the next two batters. Gary Ray got aboard on an error, Roger Nix singled and Ted Weisfuss was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Ray Palagyi then doubled, scoring all three.
Riscen retired the side in the fifth and, in its half, Canyons continued where it had left off. Third baseman Andy Cutchall singled, designated hitter Mark Geiseke singled and catcher Mike Bible singled. With the bases loaded, first baseman Gary Ray doubled, scoring three more runs.
Moorpark's DeGennaro had seen enough. At least Stillwell thought so. He replaced his starter with Anthony Mohr. But Nix took Mohr over the center-field fence for a home run and a 9-4 Canyons lead.