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Notre Dame Storms to Legion Win Over Chatsworth, 14-4

TIMES STAFF WRITER

For three innings, the poster was conspicuous in its absence. Some say that the score at the time reflected the fact that, instead of hanging in the Van Nuys-Notre Dame dugout Saturday, it was sitting in the humid cab of a pickup truck in the Notre Dame High parking lot.

Mounted on a piece of cardboard, the poster had become an unofficial mascot of the Notre Dame varsity. And there seems to be some magic left for the school’s American Legion entry too.

For after the caricature of cartoon hero Bart Simpson was hung on the dugout wall, Chatsworth faded--faster than you can say I’m outta here , man --as Van Nuys-Notre Dame stormed back from a four-run deficit to hammer Chatsworth, 14-4, in a District 20 game that was called after seven innings because of the 10-run rule.

“During the high school season, it seemed to bring us some pretty good luck,” said Vinnie Orlando, the Van Nuys-Notre Dame second baseman. “We didn’t pull it out until about the third inning today, and you saw what happened then.”

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That was just about the time Van Nuys-Notre Dame started to pull itself together.

The poster features Simpson clad in a Superman cape, under which “Bartman, Avenger of Evil,” is emblazoned.

If there was a genuine avenger for Van Nuys-Notre Dame, it was right-hander Eric Vellozzi.

Van Nuys-Notre Dame trailed, 4-0, through three innings when Vellozzi relieved starter Cary Wichmann to open the fourth. Over the next four innings, Vellozzi allowed one hit and three batters to reach base--two via error--as Van Nuys-Notre Dame (4-0-1) mounted a comeback.

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Yet Vellozzi politely declined the nomination as hero, thank you.

“I just like (relief) a lot better,” said Vellozzi, who struck out four. “There’s no pressure at all because it’s not my game to lose. All I can do is win.”

Chatsworth (2-1) scored a run in the second and three in the third off Wichmann, who might have been thrown off by a 15-minute delay at the start of the game while waiting for the plate umpire to show up. Wichmann, a right-hander, walked seven in three innings.

Early on, Van Nuys-Notre Dame was unable to ruffle left-hander Danny Rodriguez, who seemed to prefer pitching out of the stretch. In 4 2/3 innings, Rodriguez surrendered seven hits and walked six. In the second inning, in fact, Van Nuys-Notre Dame wasted three walks and a single; one baserunner was picked off first, another was shot down at the plate while trying to score on a wild pitch and a third was thrown out at home as he tried to score from second on an infield hit.

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With Vellozzi holding Chatsworth in check, Van Nuys-Notre Dame rallied in the fifth to close within 4-3. With two out, Rodriguez issued a walk to Kevin Milligan and consecutive singles to Lou Tapia, Oscar Macias and Edgar Maldonado--the latter on an 0-2 pitch.

Rodriguez was relieved by right-hander Wes Doll (0-1), who gave up a two-run single by Milligan in the sixth as Van Nuys-Notre Dame took a 5-4 lead.

Van Nuys-Notre Dame knocked around three different Chatsworth pitchers in the seventh, during which it sent 12 batters to the plate and scored a season-high nine runs.

Orlando, Bruno Paniccia and Chris Prince lined consecutive singles to key the rally, which ended when Eric Martorano’s hot smash to third handcuffed Mitch Root and brought in the 14th and final run.

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