All first-round games will be played Friday.
SOUTHERN SECTION 5-A DIVISION
Glendale Hoover (11-11) at Simi Valley (21-5): Led by the overpowering Scott Sharts, Simi Valley took its third consecutive Marmonte League title with a record of 10-2. Sharts, a senior pitcher-first baseman, has a Southern Section-record 32 career home runs and has 15 homers this season, one shy of the single-season record. Sharts is batting .513 with 7 doubles and 36 runs batted in. And when he takes the mound, he is nearly as fearsome, fashioning a record of 8-0 with an earned-run average of 1.60. Simi Valley is hardly a one-man team, however. Darren Aurand (.400), Jeff Sommer (.386), Marcus Lockwood (.385) and Darin Furlong (.380) have had excellent years. Shortstop Greg Gerber anchors the defense. Coach Bob Cooper, who has led Hoover to the playoffs in 11 of the past 13 seasons, will chose between right-handers Howard Mazei (2-1) and Sean Regan (6-5). "We don't have any standouts," Cooper said of his team, with finished third in the Pacific League with a 7-8 record. "We're not the team we've been in the past. We have a super tradition, but this season has been like riding a roller-coaster." An afternoon at Simi Valley could be the roughest part of the ride.
Thousand Oaks (17-7-1) at Ocean View (14-10-1): Thousand Oaks, the second-place Marmonte League team with a 9-3 record, is best described as short on height and long on talent. Only pitcher Dan Chergey approaches the 6-foot mark, but all nine starters are batting over .300 and all nine have at least one home run. Shortstop Steve Sisco, the 5-8 leadoff hitter, is batting .368 and set a school record with eight home runs--a total that matches that of the entire Ocean View team. Lancer catcher Mark Skeels, the 5-7 cleanup hitter, is batting .456 with 5 home runs and 18 RBIs. Chergey, a senior right-hander, is 5-2 with a 2.58 ERA in 57 innings. Available in relief is left-hander John Bushart (6-2, 2.98). Ocean View had four players drafted and two others receive scholarships to major colleges last season. But that was then, this is . . . "a mediocre team that manufactures runs," Coach Bill Gibbons said. "If they had told me before the season we'd be in the playoffs, I'd have done cartwheels." Three Ocean View right-handed pitchers--Manny Lopez, Derek Ogle and Brent Woken--divide the work evenly and each pitched a shutout over one three-game stretch. Yet Gibbons said, "I've had some years my junior varsity staff was better." Ocean View, which scrambled to a second-place finish in the Sunset League with a record of 8-6-1, lost shortstop Todd Bailey and 6-6 pitcher Dan Naulty, both returning starters, to academic ineligibility.
Westlake (14-11) vs. Crespi (16-9) at Valley College: Westlake had to win its last three Marmonte League games--including a victory over Simi Valley in the league finale--to sneak into the playoffs with a 6-6 record. John Chiaramonte (6-2, 3.42) and Mike Eby (6-2, 2.97) have done most of the pitching for the Warriors. Offensively, Westlake likes to run (four players have at least eight stolen bases), yet can also hit with power (six players have at least three home runs). Batting leaders include Chuck Foster (.370), Craig Cooper (.365) and Mike Suarez (.357). Cooper leads the team with six home runs and Suarez has the most RBIs with 23. Derek Tamburro has been another solid hitter, batting .321 and driving in 20 runs. Crespi, the Del Rey League co-champion with an 8-4 record, has started the same pitcher, Dan Carroll, in nine consecutive games. Carroll (11-2), a lanky right-hander, has made 20 appearances and has pitched 93 innings, allowed 39 earned runs. Behind Carroll is Chad Nichols (4-6), a hard-throwing junior who has thrown 61 innings in 18 appearances. Four players carry the Celt offense. Mark Cavaretta leads the team with a batting average of .419, followed by John Dempsey (.416), Greg Barton (.405) and Nichols (.387). Dempsey's father is Dodger catcher Rick Dempsey.
SOUTHERN SECTION 4-A DIVISION
Don Lugo (19-7) at Rio Mesa (18-6-1): Rio Mesa has won four Southern Section championships this decade, but the Spartans weren't even the favorite in the Channel League this season. The reason: Too many unknowns. Was freshman outfielder Dmitri Young as good as advertised? Could Robert Ayala handle the brunt of the pitching? The answer in both cases was a resounding yes. Young is batting .415, has driven in 27 runs and 15 of his 34 hits are for extra bases. Ayala has a record of 11-1, an earned run average of 2.97 and has 58 strikeouts and 20 walks in 73 innings. As a result, Rio Mesa nosed out Ventura and Hueneme to win the league title. Catcher Tim McDonnell and right-fielder Pat King are the top hitters for Don Lugo, the third place team from the Baseline League. McDonnell is batting .489 and King, the cleanup hitter, is batting .420. They each have five homers and 21 RBIs. Right-hander Sean Brashear is 6-1 with a 3.18 ERA.