Woodland Hills West right-hander Pat Treend remembers his initial reaction when one of his teammates first described the players on the team from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.
West infielder Greg Lederman, it seems, spotted some of the Guaynabo players and hurried back to give his teammates the news. Treend, who was scheduled to start against Guaynabo in a first-round game of the American Legion World Series on Wednesday, remembers thinking it was anything but a tall tale.
Lederman, somewhat aghast, said the Puerto Rican players were as big as any he'd seen in the continental Estados Unidos.
"He said they were all my height and as big as (Jason) Mitchell," said Treend, who is 6-foot-4, 200 pounds and appears petite compared to teammate Mitchell, who bends the scales at 6-3, 230. "He said they were all studs and that they used wooden bats. I had no idea what to expect."
Of course, it was all a slight exaggeration: The players were normal-sized and they walked to the plate with aluminum bats. But Puerto Rico didn't know what to expect from Treend, who threw a seven-hitter and scored the eventual winning run as West held on in the ninth to win a thriller, 6-5, at Millington Legion Field.
West (35-6) will plays Janesville, Wis., (42-6) in a second-round game today at 3 p.m. Janesville defeated Braintree, Mass., 11-7, Wednesday.
Pitching in the kind of weather that only mosquito larvae could love, Treend lasted all nine innings, throwing 114 pitches, striking out five and walking two. The heat (90 degrees) and humidity (hovering around 60%) was something that Treend found difficult to weather.
"I had to keep toweling down," said Treend, who allowed four earned runs and improved to 10-1. "I didn't drink any water because I didn't want to cramp up, but I did stick my head in a bucket of water. I'd never touched a rosin bag in my life, but today, I was all over it."
For five innings, it seemed all over for Guaynabo (32-9), the Region 3 champion. The Jets scored an unearned run in the first but trailed, 3-1, entering the bottom of the sixth and Treend seemed to be getting better as the game progressed; he had allowed just two hits over five innings and walked none.
But in the time it takes to re-route a fastball, the game was tied. With two out in the sixth, Treend walked Manuel Fernandez and fell behind No. 3 hitter Luis Ortiz, 2-and-0. Treend then served one up, piping hot, and Ortiz blasted a two-run shot that bounced off the top of the fence in right for a home run.
"I didn't know what to throw the guy," Treend said of Ortiz, who had given Guaynabo a 1-0 lead with a run-scoring single in the first. "He hit everything I threw him. The walk didn't really bother me, but I didn't want to lose (Ortiz), too, so I piped it in there, I just served it up. And he got all of it."
West scored twice in the eighth to take a 5-3 lead, and once again, it was Del Marine who sparked the offense.
Marine, who had three hits against Guaynabo and has reached base 19 times in his past 25 plate appearances, drilled a leadoff double into left-center. Yet Guaynabo right-hander Victor Negron (2-2) appeared poised to escape the inning after Jason Cohen struck out and Carl McFadden popped to second.
But the big hit came from an unlikely source. Diminutive outfielder Jeff Marks, who stands 5-9 and weighs 125 pounds, came through with a clutch single to center to score Marine. Marks, who entered the game in right after Bobby Kim reinjured a jammed left thumb in the fourth inning, moved to second when Guaynabo center fielder Joel Perez threw to the plate trying to cut down Marine. Marks scored a moment later when catcher Raul Casanova gunned the ball into right-center while trying to nail Marks as he advanced to second.
Marks, who finished with two hits, was two for 14 in the Northwest regional last week and had lost his starting position in right field.
"I wasn't really looking for any one pitch," said Marks, who jumped on Negron's first offering. "I kind of thought he'd try to get ahead in the count, and I had a feeling he'd throw me a fastball."
West added a run in the ninth when Treend lined a leadoff double into right-center and scored on Paul Geller's single to right.
Guaynabo retaliated with two runs in the bottom of the ninth and had the tying run on second before a shaky Treend could notch the final out. Fernandez led off with a double, and after Treend fanned Ortiz on three pitches, Casanova delivered a run-scoring single to left. After advancing to second on a passed ball, Casanova moved to third on an infield single by David Suarez. One out later, Suarez stole second. On the play, catcher Marine's throw bounced away from shortstop Ricky Banuelos and Casanova--evening his account--scored to make it 6-5.
However, one pitch away from putting the go-ahead run on base, Treend retired pinch-hitter Dan Melendez on a 3-and-2 grounder to short. It was a big out against the Guaynabo big boys, a team tabbed by many Legion officials as the pre-tournament favorite.
"He was one batter away from coming out," West Coach Gary Gibson said of Treend. "He was out of gas. But he sucked it up, big time."
That's easy: Perspiration.
"The main reason I wanted to get this over with," he said, "was so I could get back to the hotel room where it's about 40 degrees."