Canyon and Villa Park high schools played for the Century League title Friday, but it was errors, not championship-caliber talent, that made the difference.
In the seventh inning, Canyon shortstop Joe Furukawa made up for an error earlier in the game with a double to center to score Chris Rodwick with the winning run as Canyon came back against Spartan ace Tom Kelly to win, 4-3, at Canyon.
Canyon (10-5, 17-7) and Villa Park (10-5, 17-10) tied for the league championship, but the Comanches will earn the top league seed in the Southern Section 3-A playoffs because they defeated the Spartans in two of three games this year.
Mistakes played a part in most of the runs scored Friday. In the fifth, Villa Park left fielder Pat Riley reached on an error by shortstop Joe Furukawa and scored in the fifth to give the Spartans a 2-1 lead. An inning later, Villa Park made it 3-1 when Canyon pitcher John Cummings was late to cover the bag on a ground ball to first. The play allowed Tony Inga, who had walked, to score.
But Spartan second baseman John Watrous made two errors on a two-out grounder in the bottom of the sixth, his second and third errors of the game, to allow Canyon to tie the score, 3-3.
"I really feel we deserved it and I'm ready to cry," said Canyon Coach Hi Lavalle, who has now won three league titles in 14 years. "If we had not accomplished this today, it would have been a little injustice for us to finish second.
" . . . Sometimes it's not a break to go No. 1 (in the Southern Section playoffs), though. Some No. 3 teams have one pitcher who can get them through the early rounds. They may not have the staff, but they have one solid pitcher. That's our advantage. We have two outstanding pitchers."
And it paid off Friday. Cummings pitched six innings and allowed three runs (two earned) and three hits. David Bladow, who pitched a complete game in Canyon's 5-1 victory against Villa Park Tuesday, pitched a scoreless seventh to earn the victory. He's now 9-3.
But Canyon rallied against Kelly, who threw 6 innings Tuesday. Kelly (8-6) came in with two runners on in the sixth inning and retired the first two batters before Mike Glennie drove in a run with a bloop single to left-center to cut the lead to 3-2.
Darren O'Bannion followed with a ground ball to Watrous, who dropped it and threw it into the Spartan dugout as pinch-runner Brian Lou scored the tying run.
In the seventh, Chris Rodwick hit a bloop single to center with one out, Cummings singled to right and Furukawa drilled a fastball over a drawn-in outfield for the game-winner.
"Our kids did a good job, but you win with defense and we didn't play good defense," said Dave Ochoa, Villa Park coach. "I'm just happy to be playing. (Many) teams in the county aren't playing."
In other Century League games:
Santa Ana 12, Santa Ana Valley 3--The Saints (9-6, 16-9) go to the Southern Section playoffs as the third-place team with the victory at Santa Ana Valley. Oscar Luna and John Hefler hit back-to-back solo home runs in the first and Alex Espinoza hit a solo home run in the second for Santa Ana.
Julio Vargas had three hits and three RBIs and Ray Lopez (5-2) pitched a complete game to get the victory. Santa Ana Valley finishes 6-9 and 9-16.
Foothill 9, El Modena 2--Adam Chambers hit a solo home run and Tommy Adams and Mike Higgins combined on a four-hitter as the Knights (8-7, 12-13), who had 11 hits, defeated the Vanguards (2-3, 5-17) at El Modena.