Westlake Is One Better in Slugfest


Considering the profiles of the teams involved in the San Fernando Valley Invitational baseball game Monday between Westlake High and host El Camino Real, the contest's path was predictable.

A duel between two teams loaded with offense but searching for pitching was won by Westlake, 11-10.

The game was called because of darkness with two out in the top of the sixth inning. El Camino Real played as the visiting team because the game was moved from Westlake, where the field has not drained from the recent rains.

The teams used a combined seven pitchers, who struck out nine batters, walked 14 and hit four batters in a contest that stretched to three hours and 15 minutes. El Camino Real (0-2) had 10 hits and Westlake (1-1) had 11.

El Camino Real's Brian Somoza was at the plate in the top of the sixth with a 2-0 count, one out and runners on first and third when the umpires announced he would be the last batter. After a pair of strikes and a foul ball, Somoza struck out.

"It's too bad it got dark but [both teams] got to look at some people and see what they can do," said Mike Maio, El Camino Real's coach.

Chuck Berrington, Westlake's coach, has a formidable batting order but no idea of who will comprise his staff behind No. 1 starter Jeff Boyle.

"We need someone to go out and shut down the other offense, even for an inning or two. We can't ask our guys to score 10 or 12 runs every game," Berrington said.

Westlake led, 8-3, after three innings, scoring three runs in the first and five in the third. Two runs in the third came on a Mikey Brin home run off starter Adam Sperling, who allowed six runs, all earned, in 2 1/3 innings.

El Camino used three hits, a walk and a hit batter to score four times in the fourth and pull within 8-7.

And after Westlake took a 9-7 lead in the fourth, the Conquistadores rallied for three runs and a 10-9 lead in the fifth.

Westlake pulled out the victory in its last trip to the plate. Leadoff hitter Joey Cuppari singled and moved to third on Scott Dragicevich's double, both hits coming against Ryan Gunches.

Maio intentionally walked Kevin Howard to load the bases and replaced Gunches with sophomore Michael Grossman.

Grossman was greeted with a two-run single by Ryan Cope before retiring the side on a strike out and a double play.

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