Woodland Hills West Coach Don Hornback wasn't taking any chances when his team won the District 20 title Sunday, earning a berth in the 6th Area playoffs.
Hornback wore the same clothes throughout the District 20 tournament that he wore when West won the American Legion World Series championship in Millington, Tenn., last summer.
Certain garments, though, got mixed in Hornback's wash, leaving the coach of the two-time district champion with a crucial decision.
"I opened the washing machine one morning and there were two pairs of underwear in there," Hornback said with a grin. "I couldn't figure out which was my lucky pair, so I've been wearing both."
He can sure cotton to this: West has won 20 consecutive games.
Add superstition: Hornback also has won five consecutive coin flips to determine the home team during playoff games.
"I called tails every time," he said.
Something eerie might be at work here. Former West Coach Gary Gibson said that last season he correctly called 25 of 29 tosses in the team's playoff run--including four in a row on the season's final day when the team won the Series title.
Start me up: Pairings for the opening rounds of the 6th Area playoffs Thursday through Sunday at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium have been announced. Thursday's pairings for the six-team, double-elimination tournament follow:
In Game 1, Santa Monica will play host to Conejo Valley at 9 a.m. In Game 2, West will play host to Claremont at noon. In Game 3, Culver City will play host to Camarillo at 4 p.m.
On Friday, the loser of Game 1 will play the loser of Game 2 at 9 a.m.; the winner of Game 1 will play the loser of Game 3 at noon; the winner of Game 2 and the winner of Game 3 will play at 4 p.m.
Jawbreaker: Brett Reisner's 21-game hitting streak came to an abrupt halt in Woodland Hills East's 4-3 loss to West on Friday. All things considered, though, Reisner doesn't feel too badly about it.
In fact, Reisner didn't seem surprised that the streak ended, especially in light of West right-hander Corey Bromberg's performance.
"I saw all the pitchers in district this year," Reisner said. "And Corey Bromberg was as tough as any kid I faced. He was hitting spots like I've never seen."
Bromberg, who will be a senior at El Camino Real High in the fall, threw a six-hitter. Apparently, his pitches were dropping even more than Reisner's jaw.
"He struck me out once on a fastball low and away, and I just stood there with my mouth open," said Reisner, who struck out twice.
Dislocation location: East suffered a sizable loss when catcher Glenn Nahmias dislocated his right shoulder in the first inning of East's first-round district playoff game July 17.
Nahmias had rounded the bag after a single and dived back into first, jamming his shoulder on the bag. As Nahmias writhed in pain, he stared into the sky above Birmingham High for the second time in as many summers.
"The circumstances are real tough," Nahmias said. "It's hard to believe it happened again."
Last season, Nahmias dislocated the same shoulder at Birmingham when a Newhall-Saugus infielder jumped on his back after a tag play at second base. In short, he twice has separated the shoulder during the district playoffs at the same site.
Nahmias, who has corrective surgery scheduled Aug. 7, anticipates a six-month recovery but said he nonetheless will try to play in the spring at Pierce College.
"I might as well get (the surgery) done now," he said. "Every time it happens it increases the odds that it'll happen again. And if I can't play baseball aggressively, then I don't want to play."
Add shoulders: Newhall-Saugus standout Steve Mann blew out his left shoulder the week before the District 20 playoffs opened, a big reason for the team's elimination after two games.
Mann, who graduated from Canyon High last month, led all District 20 players with seven home runs and added 30 runs batted in. Yet his versatility, which helped him earn a place in the District 20 all-star game, made him more difficult to replace. Mann played both infield and outfield positions for Newhall-Saugus, which stranded 24 baserunners in its two playoff losses.
Newhall-Saugus, however, might not have made the playoffs had Mann avoided injury.
Mann banged up his shoulder in a collision with the Eagle Rock catcher in Newhall-Saugus' 4-3 victory 10 days ago. Mann scored the third and decisive run in the first game on the play, Newhall-Saugus went on to record a doubleheader sweep of Eagle Rock and went on to claim the final District 20 wild-card playoff berth.
Add East: According to team records, East right-hander Chris Brown has broken the year-old District 20 record for career victories.
A search through team score books indicates that Brown won six games in 1988 and nine in 1989. Brown, a 1989 graduate of Taft High, was 10-3 this summer for a total of 25 career victories.
West right-hander Lance Gibson recorded 21 wins from 1987-89, believed to be the previous record.