SOUTHERN SECTION BASEBALL PLAYOFFS : 2-A Championship : Capistrano Valley, Trailing in Third, 2-0, Rallies to Defeat La Serna, 6-2

Times Staff Writer

Whittier La Serna High School took its best shot, but even that wasn't enough to beat Capistrano Valley as the Cougars scored four runs in the fifth inning to defeat the Lancers, 6-2, in the Southern Section 2-A championship game Saturday at Dodger Stadium.

Whitmont League champion La Serna finished 19-6-1. No. 2-seeded Capistrano Valley finished 27-3.

"We tried to battle, but they were the better team," La Serna Coach John Eno said. "I think they had too many many weapons. They put a lot of pressure on us."

The pressure came from both ends of a Cougar lineup that includes five .300 hitters and starting pitcher Brett Snyder, who brought an 11-1 record and 1.24 earned-run average into the game.

But in the early going, Eno felt pretty good about the game. His pitcher, Rich Poliquin, didn't have his best stuff but remained unscathed, although he allowed four hits and a walk in the first two innings. And the Lancers took the lead with two runs in the top of the third.

La Serna's Scott Hilland got aboard on an error, and Todd Johan followed with a double down the right-field line to put runners at second and third.

One out later, Hilland scored on a sacrifice fly by David Johnston, and Mike Westmoreland followed with a single to score Johan.

But Snyder worked out of the jam by inducing La Serna's top hitter, Manny Cervantes, to ground into a force play.

The 2-0 lead didn't hold up long, though, as Snyder allowed only two more hits the rest of the way and Poliquin's luck ran out as Capistrano Valley strung together hit after hit.

The Cougars scored without the aid of a hit in the third, as Tommy Adams was hit by a pitch and went all the way to third on a wild pitch by Poliquin. After a walk to Chris Ashbach, Adams scored on a groundout by Marcel Durand.

Capistrano Valley tied the game in the fourth on a force play and had a chance for more runs, but Poliquin worked out of a bases-loaded jam when Ashbach grounded to third.

But there was nowhere for Poliquin to hide in the fifth. Durand and Walker opened the inning with line-drive singles, and Snyder gave the Cougars the lead with a line-drive single to left to score Durand.

"Maybe the number of innings he (Poliquin) pitched in the playoffs hurt us today," Eno said.

Mark Dressen replaced Poliquin and was greeted by a run-scoring single by Bill Bardens. Dressen appeared to be on his way out of the inning when right fielder Chris Turley made a diving, backhanded catch of a fly ball by Charles Lockard and Mike Pierce struck out.

But No. 9 hitter Matt Spence singled in one run, and Adams followed with another run-scoring single to make it 6-2. After a walk to Ashbach, Dressen finally got out the inning when Durand grounded into a force play.

Capistrano Valley finished with 14 hits to 6 for La Serna.

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