Seven isn't always a lucky number. Especially if you're Jim Summers, coach of Royal's American Legion baseball team, and seven of your players make an early exit from a close game.
It was June 28 at Royal High, with Royal and Oxnard tied at 4 at the end of the seventh inning. Suddenly, seven Royal players, including five starters, stretched the seventh-inning stretch a little further than usual.
Joe Summers, Jim Dollar, Dan Presta, Sean Sullivan, Travis Kinyoun, Eric Spellman and Wade Hampton left to play for Royal's high school team against Camarillo in a game at Freedom Park in Camarillo.
Joe Summers, the coach's son, said Royal High Coach Mike McCurdy expects the Highlanders to participate in Royal's summer program, and Jim Summers said the players had the OK to leave.
"It was the only conflict in the whole schedule," Summers said. "McCurdy has purposely scheduled around us."
Meanwhile, Royal's legion team was left with nobody on the bench. Oxnard scored five runs in the eighth and one in the ninth to take a 10-4 victory.
The early departure was no wasted trip. The seven players made the Camarillo game in plenty of time, and Summers hit two home runs as Royal won, 18-1.
The District 20 playoffs, which will be played at Birmingham High, will start either July 23 or July 24. District Commissioner Mel Swerdling said it probably will be the 24th. "I'm leaning toward another night of rest," Swerdling said.
The top two teams in each of the district's three divisions qualify for the double-elimination tournament.
This year, District 20 sends only one team to the Sixth Area playoffs, which are scheduled for July 31 through Aug. 3 at Jackie Robinson Stadium at UCLA.
In District 16, it's odd man out. Camarillo, Westlake and Simi Valley, the three contending teams in the seven-team district, are battling for two playoff spots.
The Sixth Area, made up of districts 16, 18, 20 and 24, annually holds a six-team, double-elimination tournament. On a rotating basis, two districts are allowed to send two teams each. District 24 will also send a pair this year.
In District 20's West Division, the top three teams are in charge of their own destinies. First-place Woodland Hills, Reseda-North and Chatsworth all play each other in the last week of the season. Reseda-North and Chatsworth are tied for second, but Reseda is one up in the loss column.
That could change Saturday. Woodland Hills, 20-5 overall and considered by many the best team in the District, plays Reseda. Then on Wednesday, Reseda plays Chatsworth.
Chatsworth faces Woodland Hills in a doubleheader on July 19, the last day of the regular season.
Makeup games dept.: Burbank and Encino-Tarzana play Saturday to resume a game that ended in a 9-9 tie. The umpires called the game after 11 innings because the three-hour time limit had expired.
Also on Saturday, Mission Hills and Newhall-Saugus play the last two innings of their game suspended June 22. Mission Hills was leading 11-10 after five innings.
Camarillo finished second in the National Cherry Creek tournament, losing to the host team, Cherry Creek, Colo., 6-5, on June 29.
Camarillo, which was 4-1 in the tournament, trailed 6-3 going into the top of the sixth when Phil White hit a two-run homer for the final margin. Camarillo was a few feet from taking the lead in the same inning.
Ken Sirak singled, and Chris Lillich's fly ball reached the warning track, just a few feet short of a two-run home run. Camarillo failed to score in the top of the seventh, but its reward wasn't bad.
"We got a trophy about six feet high," said scorekeeper Geoff Lillich. "We had to take it apart to get it in the bus. The first-place trophy was about another two feet high."