Ready or not, the Simi Valley High baseball team--still ranked second nationally--made its Marmonte League debut Tuesday by trouncing host Newbury Park, 13-1, in front of a sizable and, perhaps, curious crowd.
The large gathering might be explained because this was both the first Marmonte game of the season and the only Marmonte game of the day. Also, besides an opportunity to view the area's top team, it was a chance to see the area's most touted player, Newbury Park shortstop David Lamb.
Yet for all the preseason puffery about Simi Valley's strength, the Pioneers (5-1) whittled their way to victory by slapping 13 singles to go with only one extra-base hit--a fifth-inning double by Aaron Whitley.
"I'm a little surprised," Simi Valley Coach Mike Scyphers said. "We've got team speed, so maybe we can be a gapper-type team."
Still, Simi Valley, which lost to Millikan on Saturday in the final of the El Segundo tournament, managed to rough up three Newbury Park pitchers, including starter and staff ace Tim Farris.
Farris (0-2) left the field both impressed and depressed--by the Pioneers' performance and the poor placement of his pitches.
"I think they have a strong team," Farris said. "I mean, 13-1.
"I started out all right. But I didn't keep the ball down and they kept hitting them. Pitchers, we gotta keep the ball down."
After pitching two scoreless innings, Farris went down for the count in the third, when Simi Valley took a 5-0 lead. Kevin Nykoluk and Ryan Hankins each had run-scoring singles off Farris, who exited after walking Bill Scheffels with none out to load the bases.
Designated hitter Jeff Michael, in his first game since moving up from the junior varsity, greeted reliever Keith Smith with a sharp single to center that drove home Nykoluk and Hankins. Scheffels scored on a wild pitch.
For his part, Scheffels (3-0) pitched five innings, scattering six hits, striking out three and walking three. Newbury Park (1-6) scored in the third inning on a sacrifice fly by Lamb that drove in Smith. Lamb also singled.
"I thought he was average today," Scyphers said of Scheffels. "He didn't have his best stuff."
Simi Valley added three runs in the fourth and five in the fifth.
Aside from Thursday, when Simi Valley will play host to Channel Islands, no other league games are scheduled until next week.
The early opener was the result of a decision by league principals that prevents Marmonte teams from playing league games during spring break, which is a different week for Simi Valley than it is for Newbury Park. Tuesday was the most convenient date for the two schools.
But not for Farris.
"I think we were ready," he said. "But it would have been nice if we had another week."