SOUTHERN SECTION BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP : 1-A Championship : Williams' Curve Comes Up Short : And So Does St. Bernard as Whittier Christian Wins, 8-6

Times Staff Writer

When he has control of his curveball, Tim Williams of Playa del Rey St. Bernard High School is one of the Southern Section's best pitchers. When he doesn't, he is merely average.

Saturday at Dodger Stadium, Williams, a left-hander, gave an early indication of what kind of day it would be for the Vikings by bouncing his curve several feet in front of catcher Ben Sigwart for the better part of two innings.

In part because of Williams' wildness, Whittier Christian took a 6-1 lead and, despite making five errors in the final three innings, held on to defeat St. Bernard, 8-6, for the 1-A baseball championship.

St. Bernard (21-5), champion of the Camino Real League, scored a run off winning pitcher Daryl Lancaster (14-1) in the top of the first.

But Whittier Christian (21-5), which finished second in the Olympic League, scored three runs in the bottom of the inning on three hits, two walks and two wild pitches. Wayne Hefft drove in two of the runs with a double to right.

The Heralds went ahead, 4-1, in the second. Lancaster led off with a single, and pinch-runner Brian Halverson advanced two bases on a wild pitch and scored on Mike Neal's sacrifice fly.

Things didn't get much better for Williams' successor, Dan Melendez. Hefft led off the third with a single, and John Duffield was hit by a pitch one out later. Hefft and Duffield advanced on a wild pitch, and then Melendez threw yet another pitch to the backstop. Hefft scored, and when Sigwart overthrew Melendez covering at the plate, Duffield scored to give Whittier Christian a 6-1 lead.

Two errors by Whittier Christian third baseman Shannon Wright led to an unearned St. Bernard run in the fifth, and the Vikings added two more runs in the sixth on three hits, an error and a walk to cut the deficit to 6-4.

But Hefft's third hit, a two-run single with two out in the sixth, increased the Heralds' lead to 8-4 and helped reliever Mike Goodcase survive some more shaky fielding by the Heralds in the seventh.

Two errors led to two runs, and St. Bernard had two runners on with two out. But Eric Strand's bunt went right back to Goodcase, who threw him out to end the game.

John Stapleton also had three hits for Whittier Christian. Royce Clayton had two hits to lead St. Bernard. Williams, who finished his prep career with 25 home runs--a Southern Section record--was 0 for 2 and walked twice.

Williams (9-2) had struck out 15 in leading St. Bernard past Baldwin Park in the semifinals, 1-0, for the Vikings' 10th straight victory. But against Whittier Christian, Williams was removed after he allowed four runs, five hits and three walks in two innings. He also threw three wild pitches.

Williams, who will play for Loyola Marymount next year, refused to blame his performance on fatigue.

"I did pitch a complete game earlier this week, but I wasn't tired," he said. "I just could not throw my curve for a strike, and you need to be in command of at least two pitches to win a championship game."

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