Proving again that pitching is in short supply in the Western State Conference, Valley College outslugged visiting Ventura, 19-12, Saturday to pull within two games of front-running Canyons in the conference baseball race.
The Monarchs (13-11, 12-5 in conference play) took advantage of 12 walks by seven pitchers and a few timely hits to win their sixth consecutive game. Ventura (7-12, 5-10) lost its third in a row.
"You can't win when you walk 12 people and hit two," said Coach Gary Anglin, in his 16th season at Ventura. "This is the worst pitching staff I've had at this point (of the season). It's the most immature pitching staff. I take responsibility for it. I'm their pitching coach."
Ventura has seven freshman pitchers on its staff, and their inexperience was evident against Valley. The Pirates on Saturday started a sophomore, left-handed Tighe Curran, but he wasn't effective, either.
After Ventura jumped on Valley starter Jason Ignacio for three runs in the first, two of them on a one-out home run by left-fielder Ron Tegland, Valley bounced back with two in the bottom of the inning.
The Monarchs then blew the game open with 10 runs in the third, chasing Curran (1-5) and reliever Jason Kernen, who failed to record an out and allowed five runs. The big blow was a two-out, three-run double by right fielder Ozzie Areu.
Valley scored in every inning except the second but had to hang on during middle-inning rallies by the Pirates.
Ventura cut the Monarch lead to 13-9 with four runs in the fifth, knocking reliever Juan Velazquez out of the game. Designated hitter Ryan Denger, who went two for five, had the key hit with a two-run double to right field. Velazquez, however, picked up his second victory in three decisions.
Neither team was sharp defensively, each committing five errors. There were also numerous wild pitches and passed balls on both sides.
First baseman David Stevenson, the Monarch cleanup hitter, smacked his fifth home run of the season in the eighth. The two-run blast gave the former Chatsworth High standout four runs batted in for the afternoon.
Catcher Rich Hernandez, third baseman Chris Mace and shortstop George Macias each had two hits for Ventura.
The 19 runs were the most scored this season by the Monarchs, who have scored 10 or more runs in four of their last five games.