Making like bearded, beer-bellied Slo-pitch softball players, the Santa Clara High baseball team sauntered into Carruthers Park in Bellflower on Tuesday and challenged Bellflower High to a home run derby.
The Saints left Punch and Judy at home, left Little Ball to Bob Boone and Dick Schofield, and left Bellflower with cauliflower ears. Santa Clara pounded six home runs to win, 16-14, and advance to the quarterfinals of the Southern Section 3-A Division playoffs. Santa Clara visits El Toro, a 3-1 winner over Estancia, on Friday.
"The umpire wouldn't call the inside pitch, so we teed off," Santa Clara Coach John Lorenzana said. "But so did they."
Indeed. Bellflower overcame a 10-4 Santa Clara advantage by plating eight runs in the fifth. All the runs came against Saint ace Mike Teron, who entered the game with an earned-run average of 1.80.
Teron, who threw 59 pitches in the fifth, was the third Santa Clara pitcher, following Richard Mendez and Pat Alvarez.
Santa Clara entered the seventh trailing, 14-12, but a lead-off home run by Kasha Clemons cut the deficit to one. Two outs and two baserunners later, Brian Askin stepped to the plate and drilled his first home run of the season over the center-field fence.
Alvarez had returned to pitch the sixth, allowing two runs, but he shut down Bellflower in the seventh thanks to a double play.
Ken Knight hit two home runs for Santa Clara and Andy Ahearn and Mendez also homered. The Saints hit only nine home runs during the regular season and needed 12 innings to defeat Saugus, 2-1, in the first round of the playoffs.
In other playoff games Tuesday:
Hueneme 7, El Segundo 5--The Vikings, the second-place Channel League team, upset El Segundo, the No. 3-ranked team in the 4-A, to advance to the quarterfinals Friday against South Hills. El Segundo had defeated Hueneme, 11-1, earlier this season.
This time, Hueneme saw the light, thanks to Coach Reg Welker. El Segundo has a lighted field and wanted to play the game at night. Welker said that he appreciated the offer but declined.
"We've never played a night game in eight years," Welker said. "It would be a disadvantage to us. It's a whole different game at night."
Joel Gaxiola, the Hueneme catcher who had a disappointing regular season at the plate, continued to come up with key hits in the playoffs. Gaxiola had two hits, including a run-scoring double. In Hueneme's first-round win over Schurr, Gaxiola doubled home two runs.
"Gaxiola was below .220 and now is up around .300 with 22 RBIs," Welker said. "He's showing the leadership we've known about all along."
A six-run fifth inning, which included Gaxiola's double, gave the Vikings a 7-1 lead. El Segundo rallied for three runs against starter Lupe Herrera in the bottom of the inning and Sam Flores was called to the mound to record a save.
Jason Hernandez was 3 for 4 for Hueneme (18-7-1).
Ventura 5, Gahr 0--David Eggert, who celebrated his 18th birthday with three hits in a first-round win Friday over Righetti, pitched a three-hitter at Gahr. It was the first time this season that Gahr (20-6-1) had been shut out.
"David was pretty dominant," Ventura Coach Dan Smith said. "They didn't pull one fastball."
Cougar right fielder David Lewis had six putouts, all on fly balls hit by right-handed batters. Eggert struck out three and walked two.
Darrell McMillen hit a solo home run in the fourth inning to give Ventura 1-0 lead. The Cougars added four runs in the sixth inning. A bases-loaded triple by Lawrence Cottrell was the big blow.
Ventura (20-6-1), the third-place team from the Channel League, meets Anaheim Canyon, a 2-1 winner over Upland, Friday in a quarterfinal game. Dean McMillen (7-4) will be the starting pitcher for Ventura.
Covina 3, Rio Mesa 2--Those anticipating a showdown between Rio Mesa and No. 1-ranked Hart are left instead with a Fullerton-Covina match-up in the quarterfinals of the 4-A. Previously unbeaten Hart was shocked by Fullerton, 12-7, and Rio Mesa, the Channel League champion, was shut down by Covina pitcher Peter DeSimoni.
DeSimoni (9-2) pitched a complete game and hit a game-winning home run to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning. It was his seventh home run.
David Frazier was 2 for 3 for Rio Mesa (20-7-1).
Simi Valley 11, Culver City 5--The Pioneers, who normally rely on the long ball, used 11 singles to advance to the quarterfinals of the 5-A playoffs Friday at Esperanza.
Simi Valley (23-5) scored nine runs in the second inning--all unearned and all with two out--and took an 11-0 lead.
"Today, we found the holes," Coach Mike Scyphers said.
In 1-A Division quarterfinals Friday, Fillmore (20-2) visits Brentwood (12-10) and St. Bonaventure (14-7) visits Tehachapi (17-5).