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First-Round Debacle Puts Canyons in Need of a Quick Fix Today

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

For those who expected the College of the Canyons baseball team to break out the bats Friday night and take hitting practice in the lobby of the Best Western Motel, forget it.

Canyons Coach Len Mohney isn’t panicking, despite Cerritos’ 14-0 rout of the Cougars in the first round of the Southern California junior college regional playoffs Friday at Cerritos.

The Cougars (32-7) must defeat El Camino, an 8-1 loser to Cypress in the other first-round game, in today’s consolation-bracket contest to avoid elimination.

“If they want to win and show people that we have a good ballclub, they will,” Mohney said.

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For that to happen, sophomore right-hander Pablo Suarez will have to fare better in today’s game than Tim Nedin did against Cerritos.

Nedin (12-2), the Cougars’ ace left-hander, allowed nine runs and 10 hits in 4 innings before Jeff Frith-Smith relieved him in the fifth inning.

Nedin suffered his first loss since an April 19 decision against Bakersfield--a loss that ended the Cougars’ 21-game win streak.

“I felt pretty good, but I just couldn’t hit the spots,” Nedin said. “But they hit some good pitches. We weren’t ready to play. Today we looked like a high school team.”

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And Brian Grebeck probably made Canyons feel like a high school team.

After hitting Nedin’s 3-and-0 pitch to the warning track in left field in the third, Grebeck hit a two-run homer to left in the fifth.

Grebeck’s shot, and a two-run triple to right-center by Todd Guggiana, ignited a six-run Cerritos rally.

But Grebeck wasn’t finished. He blasted a 400-foot solo home run to left-center off Frith-Smith in the sixth.

Guggiana also doubled and finished with three runs batted in to lead the Falcons’ 19-hit attack.

Meanwhile, starter Jimmy Griego (14-3), a freshman right-hander, was throwing his third shutout in his past four games.

“I guess I’ve got to start believing in him,” Mohney said. “He really cut us up.”

Griego tossed a three-hitter through six innings before catcher Mike Bible and designated-hitter Pete Washington hit back-to-back singles in the seventh. Randy Cooper bounced into an inning-ending double play, however.

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Billy Picketts’ double in the eighth was Canyons’ only extra-base hit. Cerritos (35-11), which scored in every inning except the first and eighth, had nine extra-base hits.

Javier Fimbris sparked Cerritos’ first rally with a leadoff triple in the second. He scored on Mark Nieto’s groundout.

The Falcons added another run in the second when Rod Benjamin, who had singled and stole second, scored on Darrell Sherman’s double to left.

For Coach George Horton of Cerritos, it was more surprising to shut out the Cougars than score 14 runs against them.

“I would never have anticipated a shutout against a team like Canyons,” Horton said.

If Canyons wins today, it will face either Cypress or Cerritos again in an afternoon game.


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