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Busby Is the Man as Banning Meets Palisades

TIMES STAFF WRITER

As Mike Busby goes, so goes Banning High’s baseball team.

Coach Syl Saavedra might not like to admit it, but he knows the Pilots’ success this season has depended on the pitching of Busby, a hard-throwing junior who leads the South Bay in strikeouts.

He had a hand in 11 of the team’s 17 victories (nine wins, two saves), and he figures to play a big role at 3 p.m. today as the Pilots face Palisades in the first round of the L.A. City Section 4-A playoffs at Banning.

“We have some other good pitchers,” said Saavedra, pointing out that the team boasts an impressive 1.80 earned-run average. “But we seem to play with more confidence with Busby on the mound.”

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Banning (17-8), seeded fourth after capturing the Pacific League title, will get two consecutive playoff starts from Busby if it defeats Palisades (10-7), the third-place team from the Western League. The second round is Wednesday.

“There’s no saving him for tomorrow,” Saavedra said. “It’s easy right now. The first two playoff games are far enough apart that we can use Busby twice.”

It’s no secret why the Pilots would like to see Busby on the mound as much as possible. In 85 innings pitched, he is 9-3 with a 1.32 ERA, 119 strikeouts and only 18 walks, a heady ratio of nearly seven-to-one. He was named Pacific League most valuable player by the coaches Monday.

Palisades counters with a capable pitcher of its own. Right-hander Alan Bruns was 7-1 in league play and possesses an effective curve ball. Center fielder John Myrow, who signed with UCLA, is the Dolphins’ other standout.

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“It’s hard to tell how good they are because they played in a very weak league,” Saavedra said. “They seem to be an average ball club.”

One of Palisades losses this year came against San Pedro, which finished third in the Pacific League behind Banning and Carson.

If Busby falters, Banning can go to one of two juniors--right-hander Mark Chavez (4-3, 1.88 ERA) or left-hander Anthony Lozano (3-2, 2.84).

Third baseman Julian Pardo leads Pilot hitters with a .465 average, eight doubles, three triples and 23 runs batted in. Second baseman Raul Diaz (.386) and first baseman Sal Areyan (.342) also are offensive threats.

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Following is a rundown of other L.A. City playoff openers involving South Bay teams. All games start at 3 p.m. today.

4-A Division:

Carson (14-6-2) at Chatsworth (20-5-1)--May hasn’t been a good month for Carson. The Colts enter the playoffs after losing three of four games, a slump that cost them the Pacific League title.

Coach Marty Blankenship is optimistic that a 7-4 victory over Banning May 10 will get Carson back on track. “I think that game rejuvenated us,” he said.

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Chatsworth, traditionally one of the baseball powers in the San Fernando Valley, has a balanced lineup.

Right-hander Reed McMackin (10-2, 2.15) will start for the Chancellors, runner-ups to El Camino Real in the West Valley League. He’s also a threat with a bat, hitting .402 with three triples and 22 RBIs. Other standouts for Chatsworth include second baseman Nestor Martinez (.452, 34 runs scored, nine doubles, four triples) and center fielder Mitch Root (.379, 28 RBIs).

Carson will start junior left-hander Marco Martinez (4-2, 2.30), ace of an inconsistent staff. Offensively, the Colts rely on shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez (.474, six doubles, 19 RBIs, 12 stolen bases), sophomore outfielder David Mauney (.423, four triples, 15 RBIs) and third baseman Ed Lovato (.367, 18 RBIs).

San Pedro (14-9-1) at San Fernando (16-6-2)--San Pedro scored 33 runs in two games last week and have a four-game winning streak as they prepare to meet third-seeded San Fernando, the North Valley League champion.

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Seven Pirates are hitting over .300, led by third baseman Moises Valle (.406) and outfielder Rex Olmeda (.379, six home runs, 26 RBIs). Catcher Dale Johnson, an all-City choice last year as a junior, has 24 hits, 14 of them for extra bases.

San Fernando will try to stop San Pedro with right-hander John Najar (4-2, 2.10), co-MVP of the North Valley League, with teammate Richard Sanchez, a third baseman batting .432 with 24 RBIs.


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