Glendale Scores a Big First-Round Knockout

Those who were curious as to how Long Beach Millikan did in its first-round Southern Section baseball playoff game had to be told twice that the Rams had been upset by Glendale, 6-2.

The Dynamiters' victory was the biggest surprise of the day, something even Glendale Coach Chris Axelgard did not expect.

"We did not go down there with the expectation that we were going to beat Millikan," said Axelgard, in his sixth season at the school. "Our goal was to just not embarrass ourselves. We ended up playing a lot better game.

"It isn't that we're a better team, just that we played a better game," he said. "I made sure we got out of Long Beach fast so no one could change their mind."

Millikan, which won the Moore League title, was the two-time defending Division I champion. The Rams (18-7) won the 1991 and '92 titles after finishing third in their league.

After a sluggish start, Millikan began the playoffs as the division's No. 3-seeded team.

But things came to a quick end. Glendale (12-10) took the lead for good, 3-2, in the sixth inning and added three runs in the seventh. David Gantt, a junior right-hander, pitched a complete game, giving up seven hits and improving his record to 9-3. John Lister and Brenden Barrett each had three hits and scored two runs for the Dynamiters.

Glendale barely made the playoffs after finishing third in the Pacific League. It needed a comeback victory over Pasadena Muir in the regular-season finale to earn a playoff berth.

"This is the third straight year we've finished third in the league and had to open against a tough team on the road," Axelgard said. "I think our kids finally got the tough mentality you need to be a good team. I hope they don't let one victory go to their heads too much."

Glendale plays host to Hesperia in a second-round game today at 3 p.m.

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Glendale's victory over Millikan was not the day's only upset.

Pico Rivera El Rancho's 3-2 victory over El Segundo in Division III was also surprising. El Rancho (13-10) made the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Eagles (20-7) were the Pioneer League champions.

The difference Friday was senior pitcher Randy Flores, whom El Segundo Coach John Stevenson characterized as the best his team had faced all season.

"We haven't seen anybody who's even close," said Stevenson, who has won five Southern Section titles.

Flores held El Segundo without a hit after the first inning and struck out 13 to help El Rancho defeat the fourth-seeded Eagles. He struck out the side in the seventh inning.

Flores, a senior who improved to 7-2, signed a letter of intent with USC last Thursday.

"It has been nothing but pats on the back all week," Flores said after the game.

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The City Section baseball playoffs begin with the first round today at 3 p.m. The Division 4-A and 3-A brackets were set last Wednesday, but not without plenty of controversy.

Unlike the Southern Section, which makes up playoff fields by committee, the City lets coaches set the field. There was a lot of haggling Wednesday before the 16-team brackets were completed.

Hal Harkness, City commissioner, does not expect the system to change after he steps down from the job in October. He said the City is much smaller than the Southern Section and should give coaches the right to determine who plays whom.

"This method certainly is not the easiest, but it gives coaches the right to come down and make themselves heard," Harkness said. "I think when all is said and done, the brackets look probably similar to how they would if a committee did them."

Times' Top 20 Baseball Poll

The Times' top 20 high school baseball poll, with teams from the City and Southern Sections.

School Sect. Div. Rec. LW 1. Bishop Amat SS III 26-0 1 2. Simi Valley SS I 24-3 2 3. Crespi SS I 25-2 3 4. El Camino Real City 4-A 20-2 4 5. Esperanza SS I 21-5 5 6. Fountain Valley SS I 23-4 6 7. Irvine SS III 21-7 7 8. GH Kennedy City 4-A 23-3 9 9. Diamond Bar SS I 21-4 10 10. South Hills SS II 24-2 13 11. Gahr SS II 24-5 12 12. SO Notre Dame SS I 20-5 14 13. Hoover SS I 20-3 16 14. Millikan SS I 18-7 8 15. San Marino SS IV 20-2 15 16. Lakewood SS I 17-9 17 17. LB Wilson SS I 18-8 NR 18. Santa Fe SS III 23-1 20 19. Monroe City 4-A 18-4 NR 20. Mater Dei SS I 20-6 11

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