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L.A. Harbor Knocks Out Golden West : Rustlers: Season ends in 4-3 defeat. Shaky defense and a controversial play at the plate contribute to the loss.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Los Angeles Harbor College scored on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat Golden West, 4-3, in the Southern California Regional Playoffs Sunday at Cerritos College and advance to the community college state baseball tournament.

Harbor will be one of the four teams competing for the state title this weekend at UC Irvine. The pairings will be announced today.

It was a quick and ugly ending for Golden West, which finished 29-14-1.

With the score tied, 3-3, in the ninth, Golden West relief pitcher Todd Long started the inning by walking Mike Murphy. Two bunt-singles later, the bases were loaded with none out.

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George Baker, the next batter, hit a shallow fly ball to center field. But center fielder Shelby Hart’s throw pulled first baseman Josh Bammer to the right, and Bammer’s relay throw was off the mark at home plate. Murphy, who had tagged up, was easily safe with the winning run.

Murphy said he wasn’t even listening for the third-base coach to tell him whether or not to go on the throw.

“I was going the whole way,” Murphy said. “I have decent speed so I knew I could make it.”

John Ingram (6-0) was the winning pitcher and Long (8-4) took the loss.

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The one-run loss will likely remain in the minds of the Golden West players for a long time because Golden West lost a run when Harbor won an appeal at the plate in the sixth inning.

Golden West appeared to have tied the score, 2-2, when Jason White came home from second on Gary Christopherson’s single.

But Harbor appealed, saying White had failed to touch the plate, and the run was disallowed.

It was a run Golden West should have scored. Harbor hadn’t even made a throw to the plate, cutting it off to check a runner at second.

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Even the Harbor coaches didn’t see White’s mistake.

“One of our alumni in the stands noticed it,” Harbor Coach Jim O’Brien said.

Harbor preserved its lead briefly. Golden West tied the score, 2-2, on the next pitch when Frank Herman’s single drove in Gerad Cawhorn from second.

Harbor went ahead, 3-2, in the bottom of the inning, scoring a run on one hit. Pinch-hitter Carlos Dominguez singled. Joey Miller, running for him, took second on a wild pitch, went to third on a fly to right and scored on a passed ball.

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But Golden West came back to tie the score in the seventh. Mike Willey and Mark Magrann hit consecutive one-out singles to put runners on first and third. Willey scored on Steve McKowen’s sacrifice fly to left.

There were no more chances to come back after Harbor’s run in the ninth.

“This is my first group of guys,” Golden West Coach Bert Villareal said. “This is my second year here, so I’m sad to see it’s over. I wish we could be at Irvine next week.”

The game started off well for Golden West, which took a 1-0 lead in the third inning.

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But Golden West’s sloppy play allowed Harbor to take a 2-1 lead in the fifth. scoring two runs on three hits and three errors.

“We had a couple shaky innings defensively and that really hurt us,” Villareal said.


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