In baseball terms, all the standard components--hitting, pitching and defense--were enough to describe Long Beach Poly High's 9-3 victory at Simi Valley on Tuesday in a Southern Section 4-A second-round playoff game.
But to describe the gold WAR insignia on his team's green caps, Poly Coach Joe Perruccio had to switch the conversation from baseball to boxing.
"When we were struggling earlier in the season, I told the team I was going to see the Hagler-Hearns fight," Perruccio said. "About half the team was going with Hearns.
"But Marvin Hagler came out wearing this hat that said WAR. He got rocked a couple of times early, but came back to win the fight."
Perruccio saw a message in the fight and Hagler's hat. "We're not propagating war or anything," he said. "But (the insignia) means we go in swinging--and keep swinging until the man goes down."
Tuesday at Simi, Poly's connected early with a first inning blow--Scott Moore's two-run double--and kept swinging until the Pioneers' only chance was one of their patented big innings. But the big inning never came, as Poly center fielder Dedric Walton ensured with a running grab of Mike Hankins drive to the fence with two on and two out in the seventh.
The win sends Poly (20-6) to a Friday game against Fountain Valley, 10-2 winners over Hoover Tuesday. Simi Valley (24-6) is through.
In their final outing, the Pioneers never really had a chance. Poly was up 4-0 after two innings, and after Simi scored its first run in the fifth, the Jackrabbits came back with four runs in the sixth to all but put the game out of reach.
Simi, however, kept believing. And when Regan Furcolo, Ralph Sheldon and Duane Mulville singled to load the bases with one out in the seventh inning, there was a dim glimmer of hope.
"When you have a team that has scored 13 runs in an inning, 11 runs in one inning and 10 runs in an inning twice, it makes you feel like you can do it again," Simi Coach Mike Scyphers said. "And if that ball (Hankins') gets out, I've got (Shaun) Murphy and (Eric) Fischer coming up, and we can come back."
The faint hopes died in Walton's glove, almost 400 feet its launch site on Hankins bat. Suddenly, Scyphers was in the unenviable position of keeping the perspective of a good season in the wake of a disappointing loss.
He didn't appear to have too much trouble in the role. And for good reason. The nucleus of Simi's squad, aside from four seniors, returns next year.
"This one is tough to swallow, and it will be for a few days," Scyphers said. "But at least there's something to look forward to next year."
Murphy and Scott Radinsky gave evidence of Simi's promising future in losing effort. Murphy blasted a solo home run to left center that landed in the parking lot and also singled and walked.
Radinsky entered the game in relief of Sean Harrigan with runners on first and third and no outs in the third inning. He proceeded to retire the next three batters, although the runs scored on a passed ball and a sacrifice fly.
Radinsky struck out 12, including 10 of the first 13 batters he faced and seven straight at one point. But he blamed his own inexperience for allowing Poly to score four times in the sixth, though Mulville's two-base error of a Nick Riesgo fly ball started the Jackrabbit scoring.
"Once the errors started, I got frustrated and down on myself," Radinsky said. "I haven't been pitching that long, and I still have a lot to learn."