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Little Ball Lifts Chatsworth Over El Camino Real

TIMES STAFF WRITER

As far as trademarks go, it isn’t as glamorous as being known for slamming balls into cornfields, winning batting titles with a million hits or driving in runs by the bushel.

Tommy Lee’s hallmark is a little more subtle, something on a more refined and smaller scale.

Bunting.

“It’s my specialty,” said Lee, Chatsworth High’s shortstop. “I like to push and I like to drag.”

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In Wednesday night’s City Section 4-A Division championship game at Dodger Stadium, Lee’s bunting was a drag, indeed, for favored El Camino Real, which fell to Chatsworth, 3-2.

With the bases loaded, one out and the score tied, 2-2, in the seventh, Lee laid down a perfect suicide squeeze to drive in Nestor Martinez from third with the winning run.

“Tommy Lee is a great bunter,” Chatsworth Coach Tom Meusborn said. “I knew if it was near the plate that he was going to get it down.”

With El Camino Real leading, 2-1, Conquistadore right-hander Pat Treend walked Rodney Bloom to open the seventh. Martinez then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Treend’s attempt to get the lead runner at second was late.

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Cleanup batter Mike Mancuso then laid down another bunt, which Treend fielded and fired to second baseman Herman Merchan covering at first. Merchan, however, missed the ball for an error and Bloom scored to tie the game. Martinez moved to third on the play.

Treend (12-1) then caught a looper off the bat of reliever Mitch Root (2-1)--who struck out the three batters he faced in the seventh--for the first out. Mancuso stole second without a throw from Treend and Reed McMackin was walked intentionally to load the bases.

Lee, who missed half of the season because of a shoulder injury, then executed a textbook squeeze on the first pitch--the Chancellors’ first hit of the inning. First baseman Ryan McGuire gloved the ball but was unable to make a throw home. McGuire, in frustration, kicked the ball into the stands.

Treend, cruising along with a four-hit shutout, walked three consecutive batters in the sixth to load the bases, then allowed a run-scoring single by No. 9 hitter Adam Pearlman to bring Chatsworth to within 2-1.

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Treend, who had struck out six and allowed just five hits entering the sixth, walked nine, including five in the last two innings as Chatsworth (24-5-1) rallied from a two-run deficit.

El Camino Real (21-3-1) took a 1-0 lead in the fourth. McMackin yielded an infield single to Bobby Kim to open the inning, with Kim beating the throw from third baseman Pearlman with a headfirst dive at first.

After moving to second on a wild pitch, Kim took third on another headfirst slide after Greg Ledermen launched a fly ball to center.

Treend, who leads El Camino Real in runs batted in and had an RBI in two of the team’s first three playoff games, delivered a run-scoring bullet to center, raising his season RBI total to 28 and a pointed finger toward McMackin. Kim raised a fist as he scored.

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One out later, McMackin surrendered a single to Sean Boldt but escaped the inning by retiring Gregg Sheren on a fly ball to left.

El Camino Real took a 2-0 lead in the sixth when pinch-hitter Josh Massey, who entered the game batting .260, drilled a two-out single down the right-field line to drive in Merchan from third. Massey’s hit, the ninth for El Camino Real, chased McMackin, who was relieved by left-hander Danny Rodriguez.


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