Loyd Wood expected to get a pitch that he could hit and he was not disappointed.
Wood blasted a Leif Christoffersen offering over the right-center-field fence for a grand slam to lead a five-run, ninth-inning rally that powered Moorpark College to a 9-4 victory Tuesday over College of the Canyons in the first round of the Western State Conference Shaughnessy playoffs.
The loss eliminated the host Cougars (23-13), co-champions in the WSC with Ventura, from the five-team tournament. Valley, a 13-5 winner over Oxnard in the other playoff game, will play host to Moorpark at 2 p.m. Thursday for the right to meet Ventura in the championship game Saturday.
Wood’s blast capped a dramatic display that gave Moorpark its second win over the Cougars at Canyons this season. The win could not have come at a more opportune time for Coach Ron Stillwell, whose resignation becomes official at the end of the season.
“Don’t ask me how we win here,” Stillwell said. “I haven’t been able to win here for years. It was sweet today.”
The Cougars almost escaped the ninth inning unscathed, but third baseman Alex Bartarse’s throwing error with two out gave the Raiders new life.
With the score tied, 4-4, Moorpark had runners on first and third with two out when Craig Pearson grounded to Bartarse, who threw wildly to second base, allowing Don Smith to score the go-ahead run.
Smith had led off the ninth with a single, advanced to second on Dan Smith’s sacrifice bunt and moved to third on Darin Furlong’s ground out. Steve Sisco was walked intentionally before Pearson grounded to Bartarse.
After Pearson’s grounder, Christoffersen hit Kris Kaelin with a pitch to load the bases. Wood then worked Christoffersen to a three-and-one count before unloading on his next pitch.
“With that pitcher, I knew he couldn’t throw it by me,” Wood said. “I was expecting a fat one and I got it.”
Wood’s homer spoiled Canyons’ game-tying rally in the eighth. Designated-hitter Pete Washington blasted a two-run homer over the left-field fence to tie the score, 4-4. The loss also snapped the Cougars’ eight-game win streak and ended Canyons’ season only a day after the Cougars had clinched a share of their ninth consecutive WSC title.
Freshman right-hander John Chiaramonte (6-3) went the distance for the win. The Raiders turned double plays in the fifth and the eighth and Chiaramonte pitched out of trouble several times to preserve the victory.
“He’s a battler and he did a good job,” Canyons Coach Len Mohney said of Chiaramonte. “We had some chances against him, but he pitched tough in the clutch.”
Canyons took a 1-0 lead on Don Pedersen’s run-scoring single to right in the first, knocking in Gary Morgan. The Cougars’ leadoff batter reached base in four of the first five innings, but Canyons capitalized only in the first.
Moorpark moved ahead, 2-1, on Kaelin’s two-run home run to right in the sixth, but Canyons tied the score on Chris Joy’s homer to left, his 16th of the season, later in the inning.
Sisco’s two-run homer to left with two out in the seventh gave Moorpark a 4-2 lead. Sisco had two singles and a homer to lead Moorpark (23-15).