Mark this Bill past due.
Jason Biller, nicknamed "Bill" for short, had not homered in his high school career. Then again, as a 5-foot-7, 160-pound leadoff hitter, he probably shouldn't be expected to. Yet he did just that.
"I've seen him jack 'em out in practice," said teammate John Erganian, Biller's best friend. "I know he's capable of doing it. I was just hoping I hit one before he did."
Biller and Erganian homered in the same inning Thursday and the Toreadors racked up 13 hits to beat Chatsworth, 11-8, in a West Valley League baseball game at Taft.
Taft (11-7-1, 9-5 in league play) moved one game ahead of Chatsworth (12-10, 8-6) with three remaining in the regular season. Idle El Camino Real (12-6, 8-5) will play host to Reseda today at 3 p.m.
Taft's defense bailed out starter Justin Siegel on four occasions, with shortstop Warren Stewart and second baseman Matt Allison each making a pair of sparkling plays. In light of Chatsworth's four-run rally in the seventh, a play by Allison in the fifth might have saved Taft.
With the bases loaded, two out and Taft holding a 10-4 lead, Allison made a headlong dive into the hole to rob pinch-hitter Scott Monatlik of a hit to right.
All rivers, the saying goes, start with a single drop of rain. If Taft wins the league championship, it might all be attributable to a 30-foot bunt single by Mike Sweeney.
With Taft holding a 1-0 lead with two out and nobody on in the second, Sweeney laid a perfect bunt down the third-base line. Before Chatsworth could record the third out, Taft had scored six more runs, sent starter Jesse Yeomans (4-3) for cover and slammed out six consecutive hits.
Perhaps the most surprising of the six-pack was Biller's homer, which easily cleared the short porch in right field. The three-run shot gave Taft a 5-0 lead.
As a beaming Biller crossed the plate, he was give a bear-hug by Erganian, who soon would be on the receiving end of a similar greeting. One batter later, Erganian hit a two-run shot to cap the rally.
Chatsworth's six-game winning streak came to an end, but the Chancellors did not bow out without a battle. Mark Lopez launched a two-run homer in the third and the Chancellors scored twice in the fourth to move within 7-4.
However, Biller started the decisive Taft rally in the fourth with a leadoff single. After a pair of walks loaded the bases, Gregg Zutler singled in one run, and Gregg Rosenzweig and Gabe Kapler each followed with sacrifice flies to extend the lead to 10-4.
Siegel (7-2), a left-hander, departed after six innings, handing the ball to right-hander Brandon Witkow, who didn't exactly snuff out the Chatsworth flame. Witkow surrendered a run-scoring single to Eddie Ramos and David Stevenson followed with a three-run homer to right that cut the lead to 11-8. Yeomans followed with a single but was gunned down by catcher Stacy Kleiner for the final out while making an ill-advised attempt to advance to second on a pitch in the dirt.