High School Baseball Playoffs Today : SOUTHERN SECTION 5-A DIVISION
Simi Valley (23-5) vs. Esperanza (19-8)
At Esperanza 3:15
Simi Valley Coach Mike Scyphers remembers well a 6-5 loss to the Aztecs in the semifinals in 1986 that served as Esperanza’s springboard to the 4-A championship and the nation’s No. 1 ranking. “It’s in the back of my mind,” Scyphers said. “But they have different players and we have different players. We just feel it’s one more obstacle on the way to the finals. There is no revenge factor.” Several Simi Valley players, including Scott Sharts and Marcus Lockwood, were sophomores on that team. Darren Aurand and Greg Gerber had been called up from the junior varsity. All are starters now and have led the Pioneers to their third consecutive Marmonte League title and into today’s quarterfinals. Although he has not hit a home run since May 6, Sharts has 15 this season and a Southern Section record 32 in his career. As a pitcher, Sharts has not lost a game in 10 decisions. He will start today. After four consecutive Empire League titles, Esperanza finished third this season and had to beat Westminster in the 5-A’s only wild-card game. Either Rob Nay or Jason Moler, both right-handers, will pitch today.
SOUTHERN SECTION 2-A DIVISION
Norte Vista (19-6) vs. La Canada (13-9-1)
At La Canada 3:15
As far as La Canada Coach Gary Lievre is concerned, baby needs a new pair of shoes. The Spartans, the second-place entry from the Rio Hondo League, play Norte Vista, a team with superior pitching and offensive depth. La Canada’s chances against the Braves appear a little dicey, but Lievre remains optimistic. “The playoffs are kind of like a crap shoot,” he said. “At this point, whoever gets hot can go pretty far and win some games.” La Canada is coming off a 20-3 win over St. Joseph and will start junior left-hander Matt Whisenant, who is 4-2 with a 3.01 earned-run average. Norte Vista shortstop Greg Martineau batted .552 in Norte Vista’s last eight games and .404 overall. Zac Arteche batted .400 and hit six home runs, including a three-run homer in the Braves’ 10-3 win over Azusa in the second round.
Bloomington (15-9-2) vs. St. Genevieve (20-2-1)
At Franklin Field 3
First-year Bloomington Coach Mike Genthner admits his Bruins are underdogs, but he refuses to concede defeat. “St. Genevieve is definitely the better team on paper. But our record is deceiving,” he said. Three of Bloomington’s losses came to Chino, Glendora and Canyon of Anaheim during a rugged preseason schedule that included several upper-division schools. Robert Smith, Sean Ramos and Adrian Sanchez trigger the Bruins’ offense. Smith, a senior left-hander (8-4) who may start on the mound today, is hitting .340 as the No. 2 batter. Ramos is batting better than .500 and has 5 home runs and 24 RBIs in the third spot, and Sanchez has four home runs and 24 RBIs as the cleanup hitter. St. Genevieve ace Roland De La Maza (8-1) will start for the Santa Fe League-champion Valiants. De La Maza had an 0.62 ERA during the regular season and struck out 112 batters in 67 innings. Joe Cascione (.526) heads a potent St. Genevieve offense that includes Alfonso Gutierrez (.477), Joe Chaparro (.418) and De La Maza (.417).
CITY SECTION 4-A DIVISION
Sylmar (13-10) vs. Chatsworth (24-1)
At Chatsworth 3
It was back to work Thursday for Chatsworth, which won a 28-4 laugher the day before against Gardena. Coach Bob Lofrano, whose team has won 23 in a row, does not expect the same offensive outburst against the Spartans, who clipped Cleveland, 10-6, in the first round. “There’s no carry-over except the ball might seem bigger to some of the guys,” Lofrano said. “These guys know what’s going on.” Sticking to schedule, ace left-hander Pierre Amado (9-1, 1.65) will start for Chatsworth, which has benefited from ace relief work by Derek Wallace (7-0, 1.40, 8 saves). Sylmar, which has lost four of its past six games, will counter with either All-City left-hander Olonzo Woodfin, who allowed 4 hits and 4 runs in 4 innings against Cleveland, or junior Nino Romo who pitched the last 2 against the Cavaliers to pick up the win.
San Fernando (12-6) vs. San Pedro (20-5)
At San Pedro 3
Steve Marden’s first-round gamble looks like a good bet heading into today’s game, but the San Fernando coach had his moments of doubt during Wednesday’s 6-5 win over Carson. Marden saved ace pitcher Frank Serna for the second round but the Tigers almost didn’t make it that far. “I was saving him for Game 2 and there were a couple of times when I was wondering that there might not be a Game 2,” he said. Marden had Serna warming up in the bullpen in the seventh inning but Vince Ortega (2-2) nailed down the victory. Serna, who missed the first half of the season because of academic ineligibility, is 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA. He faces a team on that has won 10 in a row, including Wednesday’s 10-9 victory over El Camino Real in nine innings.
Canoga Park (12-7) vs. Kennedy (19-9)
At Kennedy 3
Canoga Park, the defending 4-A City champion, “has that feeling again,” according to Coach Horace Consolo. “They want to repeat,” Consolo said of the Hunters, who eliminated Granada Hills, 9-5, in the first round Wednesday. “They were wild out there. There was a little tangle and the kids went at it, which made me feel good as a coach. It shows they have a little spirit in them.” Although the Hunters threw no punches against Granada Hills, they hope to deliver a knockout blow to the third-seeded Cougars, who have won 10 in a row. Mike Roberts (5-3, 2.45), who did a lot of damage against Granada Hills with a two-run triple, will start. Kennedy’s pitching prognosis is uncertain. Brian Roth (6-1, 1.13), who injured his arm three weeks ago, is “hopeful,” Coach Dick Whitney said. Jason Farrell, Arnie Aguinaga and Scott Roth are other candidates.
Monroe (10-16) vs. Banning (17-8)
At Banning 3
This quarterfinal matchup features two teams on a mission. Monroe has come from the brink of a doomed campaign to emerge as the Valley’s surprise team. Viking fans happily will overlook Monroe’s losing record and relish Wednesday’s 4-2, extra-inning upset of Poly, the tournament’s second-seeded team. Tim Costic and Brian Eldridge pace the Viking offense. Costic is hitting .413 and has 4 home runs and 29 RBIs, and Eldridge leads the team with a .478 average. Banning’s mission is preventing an all-Valley final at Dodger Stadium. The Pilots and San Pedro are the only non-Valley teams left in the tournament. Banning scored 163 runs in 15 Marine League games and batted .393.
CITY SECTION 3-A DIVISION
Marshall (18-9-1) vs. Washington (13-6)
At Washington 3
Marshall presented Coach Gary Donatella with a memorable 34th birthday present Wednesday, beating Venice, 7-6, in nine innings for one of the biggest wins in Donatella’s six years with the program. Venice had reached the past four 3-A finals, winning three. “It was a great lift for us to beat a program like Venice,” he said. “It was evident that they were not the same team they have been in the past, but that was a sweet win. Of course, if we lose tomorrow, it won’t mean anything.” Wayne Guillory, who is 5-2, will start for Washington. Marshall will counter with Eric Duncan, who is 1-2 with a 2.28 ERA since joining the team at mid-season after being academically ineligible.