It has been less than three weeks since a young Chatsworth High baseball team lost to Poly in the semifinals of the City Section 4-A playoffs. After compiling an impressive 19-7 record last season with seven juniors in the starting lineup, big things are expected from the Chancellors next year.
"We've already heard and read about how we will be the best team around next year," Chatsworth Coach Bob Lofrano said. Lofrano caught a glimpse of next year in his team's 13-4 rout of Blair in Saturday's opening round of the 20th annual L.A. Games at Grant High.
"At this level it's easy to read something in the paper and think it's true," Lofrano cautioned. "Sure we lost only two starters off a very good team, but I've told the kids that they have to prove themselves in competition on the field. They can't become overconfident and cocky."
The Chancellors wasted little time proving themselves Saturday, unleashing a 14-hit attack against three Blair pitchers.
"Last year we weren't picked to do anything," recalled John Haselbusch, who had three hits and drove in four runs--including a two-run home run that snapped a 3-3 tie in the fourth inning. "And we made it all the way to the semifinals."
Haselbusch hit a Rick Palayo curveball and sent it high over the fence down the left-field line. "I gave it a little body English and made it go fair," Haselbusch smiled. "I knew it was out. It was a question of whether it was fair or foul."
Chatsworth put the game away with a seven-run fifth. With two on and two out, the Chancellors banged out five successive hits--four for extra bases. Rex McMackin hit a three-run home run to right-center for an 8-3 lead. Back-to-back doubles by Ty Powell and Eric Niece brought home another run. Haselbusch singled Niece to third and both rode home on David Waco's three-run home run to left for a 12-3.
Chatsworth junior right-hander Derek Wallace pitched the first five innings, allowing six hits and three runs. Wallace did not walk a batter and struck out four. Lefty Hyun Chou, also a junior, pitched a perfect sixth and Haselbusch gave up two hits and a run in the seventh.
"This was the start of the 1988 season for us," explained McMackin, who, in addition to his home run reached base with a single, triple and a pair of walks. "We would really like to win this tournament to get a positive attitude for next season. We think we're the best team around and this is our chance to prove it."
This is only the second time that Chatsworth has been entered in the L.A. Games. A year ago the Chancellors lost in the first round. They play Bishop Amat in today's second round at 3 p.m. at El Camino College.