Simi Valley Takes Title Once Again
Scott Sharts did not have his best stuff, Simi Valley High’s batters managed only five hits and the Pioneers committed three errors--two in one inning.
But, when Simi Valley is handed its third consecutive Marmonte League championship trophy, no one will care. No one, except maybe the Thousand Oaks players and coaches who, for most of the game Wednesday at Simi Valley, looked like winners.
The Pioneers defeated Thousand Oaks, 4-3, to win their fifth league title since 1980. For the Lancers (16-7-1, 8-3), there was little consolation in their relegation to second.
“This one means a little more to me because it’s my senior year and we’ve really come together,” said Sharts, a three-year starter. “I was nervous when I was out there. Heck, I started to get nervous last night.”
There was plenty to be uneasy about in the first inning when Thousand Oaks’ Mark Skeels gave the Lancers a 2-0 lead. With Bob Farber on first, Skeels turned on an inside fastball from Sharts and drove it over the scoreboard beyond the right-field fence.
The Lancers took a 3-0 lead when Mike Yanuzzi scored on Dan Chergey’s double-play ground ball in the third.
Thousand Oaks nearly scored in the second, but Dave DeSoto was gunned down by right fielder Andy Hodgins while trying to score from second on Steve Sisco’s bloop single.
In the meantime, Thousand Oaks starter Chergey struck out four of the first six batters he faced. He had the Pioneers lunging and missing his high fastball. But he was a tad fidgety himself.
“I knew they’d come back,” he said.
The Pioneers’ time came a half-inning later.
Simi Valley (21-4, 10-1) came back in the third with four runs on three hits and an error. Darren Aurand looped a single into center field to score a run, Sharts walked with the bases loaded for another and Terry Hill followed with a two-run single to right. Both Aurand’s and Hill’s singles glanced off the gloves of diving Lancer outfielders.
With a 4-3 lead in his pocket, Sharts, who had five strikeouts, pitched to one over the minimum over the final four innings. Chergey also kept the Pioneers at bay. He struck out eight and pitched out of a jam created when Marcus Lockwood led off the sixth with a triple.
Simi Valley Coach Mike Scyphers, content in victory, also expressed satisfaction with his team’s season.
“I knew we’d be a solid high school baseball team, but I didn’t think we’d be 21-4,” he said. “For this club it is a pretty good accomplishment--especially with the added pressure of already winning two in a row.”
Fifty feet away, Thousand Oaks Coach Jim Hansen wondered aloud how things might have gone had several near misses been outs.
“We feel that we can beat these people,” Hansen said. “So far we haven’t done it.”
And, of the second-place finish?
“How do I feel?” Hansen asked rhetorically. “What can I tell you? This was the championship game.”