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Heartbreak Reprise--Oxnard Edged Twice in Bottom of 9th Inning

May 26, 1988|STEVE HENSON | Times Staff Writer

If there is anything worse than losing a game in the Southern California Regional playoffs by a run in the bottom of the ninth inning, it's losing two the same way in three days.

By the same score. Using the same pitching strategy.

Just ask Jerry White.

White's Oxnard College team dropped a 6-5 decision to Rancho Santiago, the No. 1-ranked team in the state, Friday after taking a 5-2 lead into the eighth. Rancho Santiago scored two in the eighth and two in the ninth off of Vale Lopez, Oxnard's starter.

Palomar eliminated the Condors, 6-5, Saturday by scoring a run in the ninth off of Don Schwarz, Oxnard's starter.

"Those games told the story of many of our losses," said White, whose team was 27-15 and champion of the Western State Conference's Southern Division. "We lost two games by big scores and everything else was by one run, it seemed.

"I'm sure there is a message there somewhere."

White admitted that he privately second-guessed himself for pitching decisions during the season.

"Sometimes maybe I'd take a guy out too soon. Sometimes I wouldn't go get a guy," he said.

Yet he feels good about staying with both Lopez and Schwarz in the playoff losses.

"In those cases, I don't second-guess myself," he said. "Lopez is our best guy, our No. 1 competitor without a doubt. He still had good stuff and deserved the opportunity.

In the second loss, Schwarz allowed four runs in the third inning, but held Palomar scoreless until the ninth.

"Schwarz had an opportunity to fold up early and he didn't," White said. "He was pitching well enough to be out there."

Odd man out was Glenn Evans, a sophomore who had pitched effectively the entire season. He went unused during the playoffs.

"In a starting role he was as good as either Lopez or Schwarz," White said. "But the way things worked out he didn't get a shot. I think he understood but I don't think he'll ever understand, if you know what I mean."

White understands something that his players may not have grasped: The state championship was up for grabs this year. There was no dominant team.

"As I talked to people around the state, this was the year to win it," he said. "This was the year you didn't have to be a 40-0 team to win this thing.

"You could throw a blanket over the top eight teams. We were one of those teams."

Now the blanket can be used to tuck the Condors away until next season.

And White hopes those nagging feelings of what could have been don't keep him awake at night.

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