San Fernando Again Takes It From the Top

A key for any team seeking to make it all the way to No. 1 is a batter who makes things happen from the No. 1 slot.

Over the past three seasons, San Fernando High has had three players who excelled in the leadoff position, although in different ways.

In 1988, outfielder Josh Bergara did it with power, hitting a school-record four home runs in league play. Bergara, who now plays at College of the Canyons, batted .353, scored 23 runs and stole 10 bases.

In 1989, outfielder Jesse Romero did it with a superlative batting average. Romero, who plays at Mission College, hit .427 and set a school record with 28 hits in league play. Romero also scored 29 runs and stole 12 bases.


This year, infielder Richard Sanchez is leading the run-producing charge. Sanchez, who is batting .452, has driven in 23 runs and scored 23 runs.

Field of screams: Chatsworth shortstop Tommy Lee should have known that something was afoot underfoot.

During practice at home last week, Lee took a bad-hop grounder in the face. A day later, in a game against El Camino Real at Chatsworth, Lee took two more hard-hit shots to the body, including one that struck him squarely on the chin, knocking him down and leaving him temporarily woozy.

Chatsworth Coach Tom Meusborn said that Lee--who missed much of the season because of an arm injury and rejoined the team over spring break--already has received a season’s worth of bumps and bruises.

“The ball’s really been after his face,” Meusborn said. “Maybe he felt like he needed an improvement in his looks, but that’s a tough way to go about it.”

By the end of the El Camino Real game, Lee’s chin was clearly swollen. Meusborn’s reaction?

“I told him to make sure he got all of the rocks out of there,” Meusborn said.

And the Oscar goes to . . .: Chatsworth’s Reed McMackin might deserve a nomination for best acting in a dramatic role.

During Chatsworth’s 11-8 loss to El Camino Real last week, McMackin apparently was hit by a pitch thrown high and tight.

Or was he?

The sound of impact was a metallic thump, apparently as the ball hit the knob of the bat. As McMackin trotted toward first base, the El Camino Real team erupted and asked for the base umpire to rule whether the ball had hit the bat or McMackin’s hand.

As the play was being discussed, McMackin went into his act. He shook the hand, cradled it under his arm, bent over in pain, grimaced and swore--all with his back to the plate umpire, who eventually called McMackin back to resume his at-bat.

On a last-ditch attempt to convince the plate umpire that he had been hit, McMackin held out his arm--which didn’t have a mark on it.

Don’t play cards with this guy--McMackin never cracked a smile.

No luck: Newbury Park’s Andy Moffat is one of the few Marmonte League pitchers who has challenged league-leading Westlake’s disciplined bats. But it hasn’t earned Moffat any victories.

Moffat, a senior right-hander, pitched eight innings in a 4-3 loss to the Warriors on Friday and allowed just three hits and two earned runs. In an earlier outing against Westlake, he struck out eight and allowed five hits and one earned run. Yet he lost that game, 2-1.

“He threw two great games,” Newbury Park Coach Gary Fabricius said. “He said he wanted to pitch against them, so we worked it around in our rotation.”

Moffat said he enjoys the challenges posed by Westlake, the top-ranked Southern Section 5-A Division team.

“When I pitch against other teams, I don’t get into it as much,” Moffat said. “I like the competition with Westlake, it gets me more excited.”

Warriors invited: Westlake’s success this season has brought national exposure and led to invitations to tournaments as far away as Orlando, Fla.

Westlake (22-1), ranked No. 2 in the nation by USA Today, has been invited to compete in the Colonial Classic in Orlando from April 1-5 and the Upper Deck tournament in Anaheim from March 25-28.

Herrera said that the Colonial Classic conflicts with classes and he won’t make a decision until conferring with administrators.

Homer leaders: Westlake’s Mike Lieberthal and Simi Valley’s Joe Gordon are tied for the state lead in home runs with 13, according to Cal-Hi Sports. Fullerton’s D. C. Olsen, declared academically ineligible last week, is second with 12 and El Segundo’s Tate Seefried has 11.

Outlook bleak: Simi Valley (10-11) might miss the playoffs for only the third time in Coach Mike Scyphers’ 12 years as head coach. Simi Valley (4-6) is 1 1/2 games behind Royal (5-4) in the battle for the third and final playoff berth and must win its final two league games against Westlake (22-1, 10-0) and Camarillo (10-11-1, 3-6).

The Pioneers failed to qualify for the playoffs in 1979, Scyphers’ first year, and in 1984.

Injury update: Dave Landaker, Royal’s super sophomore who was hitting .391, still is recovering from a pulled groin muscle he sustained in an 11-4 loss to Westlake two weeks ago. Landaker, a right fielder, was injured while attempting to catch a fly ball on the hill in right field at Westlake.

Landaker’s loss could prove even more costly as Royal (14-9, 5-4) battles for its first playoff berth in at least seven years.

“We’re really missing his bat,” first-year Coach Dan Maye said. “He may be back on Friday, but it’s all in the doctors’ hands now.”

New attitude: Beware of flying objects next fall at Montclair Prep football games.

The Mounties plan to introduce the forward pass--seldom used in last season’s offense--to their attack in the 1990 season.

“We are definitely going to throw the ball next year,” Coach George Giannini said.

The new approach will cause some changes, he said. Last year’s quarterback, 5-foot-9 Leland Sparks, will move to flanker and Mike Lincavage, a 6-foot, 165-pound junior, will move to quarterback.

The Mounties threw the ball 43 times and ran it 504 times in 13 games last fall when Michael Jones and Derek Sparks logged 224 and 210 carries, respectively.

Jones has graduated and will attend USC in the fall, leaving Sparks, who gained 1,944 yards and ran for 32 touchdowns, in the Montclair backfield. Giannini assures that Sparks will continue to get his carries.

“I think he’s ready for a big year,” Giannini said.

Staff writers Steve Elling, Brian Murphy and Jeff Riley contributed to this notebook.