The play had worked twice for Encino pitcher Chris Spears, but the third time won the baseball game--for Sun Valley.
With the scored tied, 1-1, in the bottom of the seventh and two out Saturday, Encino second baseman Eddie Chavez was on first and pitcher Jose Banuelos was on second. As Chavez took his lead, the left-handed Spears attempted to do what he had done earlier that inning and in the sixth--pick off a Sun Valley runner at first. But this time Spears' throw to first baseman Matt Arnold was wild.
Banuelos scored on the error to give Sun Valley a 2-1 victory over Encino in a District 20 American Legion game at Poly High.
"It's all my fault, it's all my fault," said dejected Encino Coach Craig Sherwood, who signaled for the pickoff play from the bench. "I made the call. I shouldn't have made the call. It's that simple.
"Like taking the bat out of the batter's hands, I took the ball out of the pitcher's glove."
It appeared that Chavez would have been out had Spears' throw been on target.
Spears, who intends to walk-on at UCLA next season, agreed.
"He would have been out," said Spears, who was 10-2 for Crespi, (21-6), which advanced to the Southern Section 4-A quarterfinals this season. "I admit I got a little nervous, and I just didn't lead my throw enough."
Banuelos (1-0) pitched all nine innings and allowed one unearned run on five hits and one walk while striking out seven. Spears (0-1) struck out 12 in eight innings and gave up one earned run, but he allowed three walks, including two to Banuelos, who scored both Sun Valley runs.
Newhall-Saugus 8, Van Nuys-Notre Dame 4--Sophomore pitcher Roger Salkeld had nine strikeouts in 8 innings and Ray Palagyi had two run-scoring doubles for Newhall-Saugus (3-2). Salkeld (3-1) has 29 strikeouts in four games.
Burbank-Providence 5, Palmdale 3--Paul Garcia stole four bases and scored twice, despite being held hitless, as Burbank-Providence halted a two-game losing streak. Garcia, who walked twice, stole second and third in each of the fifth and ninth innings.
Woodland Hills, 7, Granada Hills 2--Woodland Hills scored six runs on five hits and two walks in the fourth inning en route to a come-from-behind victory over Granada Hills. Ryan McGuire had two doubles and drove in two runs for Woodland Hills (3-0).
Canoga Park-Chaminade 9, Studio City 1--Terry Moriarty and Tony Collatos each had two hits and drove in two runs as Canoga Park-Chaminade (1-5) ended a five-game losing streak. Pitcher Pat Kelly (1-2) went the distance and allowed one earned run on six hits.
Mission Hills 6, Reseda 3--Bill Horvat and Mike Sims hit consecutive two-run doubles to highlight a five-run sixth inning as Mission Hills won its fifth straight game. Barry Gindlesperger had two doubles and a solo home run, and Mike Aranzullo blasted a solo home run in the fifth for Reseda (0-3).
Chatsworth 12, North Hollywood 6--Eric Niece had four hits, including a double and a triple, and scored four runs for Chatsworth (5-0).
Reseda-Cleveland 9, San Fernando 4--Jim Doushgounian had four hits, scored twice, and drove in two runs as Reseda-Cleveland won its third consecutive game.