Sunset League : Ocean View's Protest Clouds Westminster Victory and Playoff Berths

Times Staff Writer

The playoff picture in the Sunset League appeared to be clear after Westminster High School's baseball team scored three runs in the seventh inning to beat Ocean View, 7-6, Friday at Westminster.

But the league's three berths for the Southern Section 5-A playoffs remained undetermined after Bill Gibbons, Ocean View coach, filed a protest contending that Westminster used an illegal player in Friday's game.

Sunset League principals will meet Monday morning to decide the issue, which will greatly affect the standings and playoff berths. The Southern Section will announce its playoff pairings Monday.

Gibbons filed the protest in the seventh inning when Angel Lopez replaced Dax Hammers at catcher. Hammers was removed from the game by Ken Ostrowski, Westminster coach, for disciplinary reasons at the end of the sixth inning.

Lopez had played in Westminster's junior varsity game against Ocean View on Thursday. Ostrowski confirmed that Lopez played in the JV game but said he did not know of any league rule forbidding Lopez to play Friday.

"We're checking into it," Ostrowski said. "It's certainly not a CIF rule. Right now, I have a cloud hanging over my head. . . . I can only enjoy a great comeback win superficially."

Gibbons, however, said league rules state that a player cannot play in a lower-level game one day and then join the varsity the next day to play against the same school.

"I watched the JV game on Thursday and saw the kid play," Gibbons said. "As a coach, I'm obligated to pursue this, whether the rule was intentionally violated or not."

For now, Westminster (16-10, 9-6) is the Sunset co-champion with Huntington Beach but will be the league's No. 2 representative in the playoffs. Huntington Beach was awarded the No. 1 berth because it won the league series against Westminster.

If the protest is upheld, however, Westminster will drop to third and still will make the playoffs. Ocean View (13-11-1, 7-7-1), which is fourth in the six-team league, would move up to second and also make the playoffs.

Friday, Westminster trailed, 6-4, going into the seventh inning but rallied for the victory.

Right fielder Joe Maisano's single drove in one run, pitcher Ryan Klesko's triple scored the tying run and Klesko scored the game-winner when Ocean View shortstop Don Hernandez threw wildly to first on a routine grounder.

Klesko (5-2) also was the winning pitcher.

"This game was amazingly typical of this league," Ostrowski said. "We had five teams going for the playoffs on the last day, and we still don't know who's in the playoffs."

Huntington Beach 5, Edison 0--Gerad Cawhorn went 2 for 4 with three RBIs for host Huntington Beach. Darrin Vigallon added a home run in the fourth inning for the Oilers (18-7, 9-6). Dominic Alvarez (5-2) went the distance for Huntington Beach, striking out eight and allowing just three hits. Edison finished the regular season 12-12-1 and 8-7 in league play.

Marina 5, Fountain Valley 3 (8 innings)--Senior Marcus Nelson hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning for host Marina. Nelson also pitched a complete game for the victory. The home run was hit after Eric Crocker reached on an error and Sam Chirco hit a single. Marina scored two runs with two outs in the seventh to tie it on a double by Chris Craig, an RBI single by Robin Lindsey and a single by Steve Jio.

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