After scoring four runs in the first inning, Valley Chatsworth appeared poised for an easy victory over Pomona in an Area 6 Legion playoff game.
There was nothing easy about it.
Valley Chatsworth slipped past Pomona, 7-6, on Thursday at Birmingham High, on a three-run home run by Matt Fisher in the sixth inning.
"We played about as poorly as you can play and still win," Coach Matt LaCour of Valley Chatsworth said. "Luckily, we hit the ball out of the yard a couple of times.
"Offensively, we were horrible. We were swinging at bad pitches and had a horrible approach at the plate."
Valley Chatsworth's batting average entering the game was .379, but the team had only seven hits against Johnny Hernandez.
Chad Redfern and Spector each had two hits for Valley Chatsworth (29-3).
The game was tied, 4-4, when Jason Spector led off the sixth inning for Valley Chatsworth with a double, and with two out, Scott Drake drew one of his four walks.
Then Fisher sent a Hernandez pitch over the left-field fence.
"He turned on that pitch," LaCour said. "We needed that. They walked our nine hitter and he made them pay.
"That's the kind of thing we need to capitalize on."
Jeff Spector gave Valley Chatsworth a 4-0 lead in the first when he hit a two-run homer over the left-field fence.
Hernandez ended the inning by striking out Jason Spector and Charles Kenny, but gave up three hits in the inning.
"After the first inning, we were pounding the ball off the guy," Spector said.
"I think we got too relaxed up there. We started lifting balls instead of hitting line drives."
Pomona (19-2-1) scored a run in the second inning, and tied the score in the third. Mike Kunes gave up a three-run home run to clean-up hitter Eric Samaniego. The next hitter singled, but Kunes settled down and retired the next 11 batters.
"He made one bad pitch, giving up the three-run home run on an 0-and-2 pitch, but other that he pitched a pretty solid game," LaCour said.
Kunes (3-0) pitched an eight-hitter and struck out four.
Pomona closed the lead in the seventh. Hernandez led off with a single and scored on Chris Coronado's triple. Manny Castillo drove in Coronado on a grounder to first.
Kunes did not allow a hit in the last two innings.
Valley Chatsworth will play Westside today at 6 p.m. at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium in a second-round game of the double-elimination tournament.
The tournament winner will advance to the state tournament at Yountville.
"Offensively, if we don't figure it out, we're going to make a quick exit," LaCour said.
In other Area 6 playoff openers:
Westside 4, Ojai-Santa Paula 3--Brian Bronk scattered 10 hits and struck out eight, but Ojai-Santa Paula fell short in its first-round game.
Noah Lowry hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning to pull Ojai-Santa Paula to within one, but Westside pitcher Roger Rivas ended the rally.
John Hill had three hits for Ojai-Santa Paula and Ponch Ortiz added two hits.
Ojai-Santa Paula will play Damien today at 10 a.m. The loser is eliminated from the tournament.
"We have a long way to go," Coach Bob Hill of Ojai-Santa Paula said.
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Area 6 Legion Playoffs
from Birmingham High
* Camarillo def. Damien by forfeit
* Westside 4, Ojai-Santa Paula 3
* Valley Chatsworth 7, Pomona 6
at Jackie Robinson Stadium
* 10 a.m.--Ojai-Santa Paula vs. Damien
* 2 p.m.--Camarillo vs. Pomona
* 6 p.m.--Valley Chatsworth vs. Westside