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Canyons Hopes Old Strategy Brings Better Results in Playoff Opener

May 05, 1988|GARY KLEIN | Times Staff Writer

The setting, the participants and the place are the same.

But when Canyons travels to Oxnard today to begin a best-of-three series for the Western State Conference baseball title, Canyons Coach Len Mohney hopes that the results will be different.

Last season, Mohney started ace left-hander Fred Riscen in the opener, hoping that the sophomore would give the team an early lead in the series. Oxnard, however, beat the Cougars, 8-1, forcing Canyons to sweep a doubleheader two days later to win the title.

Today, Mohney will start ace left-hander Tim Nedin (11-1), who suffered his only loss April 19 against Bakersfield in the game that ended the Cougars' 21-game win streak.

"It's the exact same strategy I used last year," Mohney said. "And this time, I hope it works. You don't like going into a doubleheader knowing you have to sweep."

Canyons (30-6, 22-3 in conference play), the champion of the South Division, and Oxnard (16-8 in conference play), the North Division champion, also will play Saturday at Canyons at 11 a.m., with a third game immediately following, if necessary.

Both teams already are assured a berth in the state playoffs. The winner of the series, however, gains a bye into one of two four-team regionals that will be held May 20 at Ventura and Cerritos. The loser must play preliminary-round games May 12 and 14th.

The single-elimination, four-team semifinal and championship will be held May 27-29 at UC Irvine.

Canyons, which is batting .352, is led by sophomore shortstop Jeff Flesher (.406). Sophomore outfielder Billy Picketts (.402) and freshman outfielder Chris Joy (.380) also have been key performers. Freshman third baseman Ernie Perez, who missed the last four games because of a hand injury, is expected to start.

Oxnard Coach Jerry White said lack of power prevented his team from getting by Canyons last season. That is not the case this time around. "We're pretty physical," he said.

Oxnard is led by shortstop Heath DeLaTorre, who is batting .350, and center fielder Phil White (.370).

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