Aaron Marks is the superstitious sort, the kind of guy who would wear the same underwear, eat the same brand of okra-flavored yogurt or listen to the same brainless Bangles song over and over if it meant keeping a streak headed in the right direction.
After all, no price is too much to pay for a victory. Marks even has a regimen he goes through each time he heads to the batter's box--he taps the bat lightly on the front of his batting helmet. Two taps, to be specific.
"It's just my way of focusing on what I'm trying to do," Marks said. "Call it superstitious, but it helps me block everything out."
Marks' home run in the fifth inning added some clarity to the West Valley League race as well, leading Canoga Park to a 4-1 victory over Chatsworth at Lanark Park on Tuesday.
The two-run shot sounded taps for Chatsworth's hopes of entering the City Section playoffs as the top-seeded team. The win gave Canoga Park (15-4, 11-4 in league) a share of the league title with Chatsworth--and, based on two victories in three games over the Chancellors (17-6, 11-5),the Hunters will be seeded No. 1 when the playoffs begin next Wednesday.
All of which translates to a first-round home game for Canoga Park, which means another outing at storied Lanark Park, where indigents, winos and fans battle each other for bench space. The facility has no pitcher's mound, no infield grass or outfield fence. The latter cost Chatsworth at least two runs when Rex McMackin's 380-foot fly ball in the sixth was caught in right by Mickey Snook.
"That would have easily gone out of any other stadium," said junior right-hander Mike Kerber (5-0), who allowed five hits and pitched a complete game. "As a pitcher, you don't have to worry about the long ball. That's why I love this place."
The game was tied, 1-1, when Marks launched his blast off Chatsworth left-hander Pierre Amado (6-3). Fink led off the fifth with a single to left and Alan Paar followed with an infield hit. After Juan Soriano twice tried unsuccessfully to bunt the runners over, Canoga Park Coach Doug MacKenzie inserted light-hitting Ricardo Banuelos to pinch-hit with an 0-and-2 count.
Banuelos laid Amado's first pitch down for a perfect sacrifice bunt.
"Hey, he may be 1 for 14 with the bat, but he's the best bunter we've got," MacKenzie said.
Scott Strickland scored Fink with a sacrifice fly and Marks followed with the shot over Chatsworth left fielder John Haselbusch.