Chatsworth High won a duel in the sun Tuesday with visiting Taft, as the Chancellors recorded a 5-4 victory to move into sole possession of first place in the West Valley League.
For Chatsworth senior right fielder Nick Schultz, however, it was more of a duel with the sun. Schultz, black shoe polish smeared heavily beneath his eyes, smiled broadly after squeezing Brett Reisner’s lazy fly ball to end the game and douse Taft’s four-run rally.
“Brutal,” he said.
Chatsworth (8-2, 5-0 in league play) leads the Toreadors (7-3, 4-1) by a game entering Thursday’s rematch at Taft.
Chatsworth starter Derek Wallace (5-0), cruising along with a one-hit shutout, encountered trouble in the seventh when Taft batters began lofting high fly balls into sun-soaked right field.
A leadoff walk to Jason Shapiro, followed by a single by Mike Kimelman and a double by Glenn Nahmias gave Taft its first run.
Catcher Adam Zutler then lifted a fly ball down the right-field line that landed 20 feet to the left of a blinded Schultz.
“I just couldn’t pick it up,” Schultz said.
Zutler legged out a triple, Taft trailed, 5-3, and Wallace, who had pitched out of several jams while recording eight saves last season, probably felt a bit sun-struck himself.
“Seemed like old times,” Wallace mused.
Wallace struck out Rich Cosentino before Rich Shapiro and Reisner each hit fly balls to right field.
Schultz staggered under the first before making a catch on one knee as Zutler raced home. Schultz gloved the second fly ball to end the game.
“Hey, it’s not easy,” Chatsworth Coach Bob Lofrano said. “I played second base when I went to high school here and if you get a high-hopper, you’re in trouble.”
Chatsworth scored four runs--three unearned--in the second inning off starter Chris Brown (3-2).
In the sixth, Chatsworth catcher Eric Johnson belted a solo home run, which proved to be the winning run.