In retrospect, Van Nuys East's 11-0 victory over Woodland Hills West in the American Legion baseball District 20 playoffs Thursday at Burroughs High was about as surprising as finding a Bible in a hotel room.
Woodland Hills West, after all, was out of pitchers. Because the top three pitchers from El Camino Real High--Randy Wolf, Tony Kyber and Shaun Fishman--chose not to play Legion ball, the team had only one legitimate pitcher, Greg Kmet, and he worked Tuesday. What remained were a few converted position players.
And Van Nuys East had 6-foot-3 left-hander Rich Igou on the mound. Igou, who has signed with the University of San Francisco and was drafted by the Kansas City Royals, has been nearly unhittable in Legion play.
Igou went all the way in a game called after seven innings because of the 10-run rule. He gave up two hits and struck out 12.
"He had, what, 12 strikeouts? And this is supposed to be one of the best hitting teams around," Van Nuys East catcher Ed Romero said. "He wasn't throwing hard at first, but all of the sudden he just took command. He started just gassing it up."
Igou, who improved to 5-0 in Legion play, also contributed to Van Nuys East's 12-hit attack with two home runs and four runs batted in. Francisco Dongo, Justin Bunch and Joe Orlando also homered for the winners.
The drubbing was administered to reluctant Justin Balser (2-2), forced to take the mound for just the fourth time in the last four years because of Woodland Hills West's lack of pitchers.
"Look at our staff," Balser said. "It's pretty much pitching by committee up there. But (Van Nuys East) is a really good hitting team. They are the best I've seen. They mashed the ball."
Van Nuys East (17-5-1), which is 13-1-1 in recent weeks, will face Valley North at 4:30 p.m. today at Burroughs in a matchup of the only two teams yet to lose in the double-elimination District 20 playoffs.
"We are playing pretty well and it's going to take a good pitcher to beat us," Van Nuys East Coach Jody Breeden said. "We're doing everything properly, pitching well and hitting well."
Woodland Hills West (16-8) drops into a losers' bracket game against Encino at 4 p.m. today at Birmingham High.
In other District 20 playoff games:
Valley North 6, Sun Valley 5--Tony Montiel was three for four with five RBIs, including a two-run single to give Valley North the lead in the seventh inning of a winners' bracket game at Burroughs.
Right-hander Danny Martin picked up the victory with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. It was Martin's first pitching appearance of the season.
Left fielder Ray Daryabigi was three for three with a home run for Valley North (15-8), which was the 10th-seeded team in the tournament but has won its first three games.
Newhall-Santa Clarita 4, Verdugo Hills 1--A three-run outburst broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth and Newhall-Santa Clarita (18-6) eliminated Verdugo Hills in a losers' bracket game at Birmingham High. Brian Eggleston drew a bases-loaded walk that scored Brian Baron to break a 1-1 tie.
One out later, Brett Tonkiss hit a two-run single to break the game open.
Lucas Solomon, who pitched seven strong innings, and Bobby Graves, who picked up the victory in relief, combined on a five-hitter for Newhall-Santa Clarita.
Baron went three for four and scored two runs to lead Newhall-Santa Clarita.
Loren Geller and Bryan Chan each had two hits for Verdugo Hills (16-8).
Encino 4, Antelope Valley South 1--Right-hander Ron Jones pitched a three-hitter and struck out 11 while walking three to pace Encino in a losers' bracket game at Birmingham High.
The defeat eliminated Antelope Valley South (18-5).
John Campanella went three for four and Barry Matthews had two hits for Encino.
Encino (18-6) increased its lead to 3-0 with a two-run third inning on a run-scoring grounder by Ray Munoz and a run-scoring single by Matthews.