One foolproof remedy for an acute case of playoff jitters is a platter of home runs. Nothing relaxes a team more than watching a teammate send a ball over the fence and lazily trot around the bases.
Buena High alternately slugged and slopped its way to an 8-4 victory over Lompoc on Tuesday in a second-round Southern Section 4-A Division playoff game. Five errors were more than offset by home runs by Tom Lunsford, Matt Anderson and Steve Albiston as the No. 1-seeded Bulldogs advanced to a third-round game against Hart.
"I thought we were a little bit nervous today, which is unusual because we were favorites and we were at home," Buena Coach Stan Hedegard said.
Lunsford, the Buena shortstop, hit a two-run home run to center field with two out in the first inning to open the scoring, but the Bulldogs committed four infield errors in the first three innings and fell behind, 3-2, as they came to bat in the third.
Anderson, a senior left-handed hitter, made up for the mistakes with one swing, however, driving a pitch over the right-field fence to give Buena a 4-3 lead. Another error, this one by Lunsford with two out and a runner on third, enabled Lompoc to tie the score in the fourth.
Buena pecked away for solo runs in the next two innings and added two in the sixth--the first on a home run to left by Albiston.
"Their pitcher was up in the strike zone, and when you're pitches are up against us, you're gonna get hurt a little bit," said Hedegard, whose team improved to 20-2-2 and has gone 21 games without a loss.
Junior right-hander Jason Isaacs (10-0) withstood the shaky defense to notch his seventh complete game and lower his earned-run average to 0.68.
"Isaacs pitched a great game," Hedegard said. "When there is no support behind you, it's easy to get upset but he seemed to gain composure and block it all out."
Isaacs struck out eight and walked only three--one intentionally--despite not having command of his knuckle-curve, normally his best pitch. He allowed no runs over the last three innings.
"The defense finally supported him," said Hedegard, who vowed that practice until Friday would primarily consist of defensive drills.
"We'll go right back to fundamentals," he said. "Realistically, we have the ability, but the basic plays didn't happen today. We can't have those kinds of errors and expect to get into Dodger Stadium" for the 4-A championship game.
Anderson (7-1), a senior left-hander with 84 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings, will start for Buena against Hart.
Keith Halcovich (8-2), who has walked only seven in 67 innings, will take the mound for Hart (21-6). The right-hander has pitched four complete games in 14 appearances and has allowed 55 hits in 67 innings while striking out 39. His ERA is 1.15.
Hart, co-champion of the Foothill League, defeated Walnut, 10-5, Tuesday behind a six-hitter and 13 strikeouts from junior left-hander Andrew Lorraine (8-4).
Hart was 25-0 last year before dropping a second-round game, but has struggled at times this year. Ace right-hander Jason Edwards has been unable to pitch because of a shoulder injury and sees action only as designated-hitter.
Edwards is one of a number of Indians who played together on five youth world series championship teams, most recently taking the Babe Ruth championship last summer.
Lance Migita (.447, 11 doubles, 24 RBIs), Robby Davis (.413, 24 RBIs), Chris Vasquez (.385), Jay Sanford (.359) and Darin Tsukashima are others.
Ray Gardocki (.405, 29 RBIs), Casey Burrill (.455, six home runs, 32 RBIs) and David Toledo (.397) are other top Hart players.
Hart is an aggressive team, boasting six players with seven or more stolen bases.
In a 5-A Division third-round game Friday:
Long Beach Millikan at Simi Valley, 3 p.m.: Simi Valley, the No. 1-seeded team in the division, advanced to the third round after right-hander Rich Langford threw a six-hitter, struck out nine and walked two in a 5-1 win over host Baldwin Park Tuesday.
Langford (7-1), a senior plagued by arm problems earlier this season, faltered only in the fifth when he allowed three consecutive singles to bring Baldwin Park to within 5-1.
Simi Valley (23-3), the Marmonte League champion, scored three runs in the second, two on wild pitches and another on a double by outfielder Mike Jenkins.
The Pioneers scored again in the fourth when Tyler Nelson tripled and scored on the back end of a double steal.
Jeff Sommer homered in the fifth, his fourth, to give Simi Valley a 5-0 lead. Second baseman Jesse Anguiano tied a single-game school record with four walks.
Millikan defeated Culver City, 4-3, Tuesday. Simi Valley defeated Millikan, 8-7, in the El Segundo tournament in March.
Jenkins, who has become more dominant as the season has progressed, will start for Simi Valley. The senior right-hander is 8-0 with 2.02 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings.
Besides the pitching of Langford and Jenkins, Simi Valley's strength is its infield. First baseman Kenny Hood (.360), second baseman Jesse Anguiano (.403), shortstop Andy Hodgins (.459) and third baseman Terry Hill (.434) are all potent hitters.
In another 5-A game Tuesday, Newbury Park was eliminated by Fontana, 7-4, ending the Panthers' most successful season since 1977, the last time they won the Marmonte League title.
Newbury Park (19-5-3) scored twice in the top of the third on Chris Marsden's single, Eric Greene's triple and Danny Madsen's sacrifice fly.
Geoff Black hit his seventh home run of the season--a two-run blast--in the fifth for the Panthers' other runs.
Jeremy Dewey (8-3), who shut out North Torrance, 11-0, in the first round, went the distance for the Panthers. He allowed nine hits, struck out three and walked two.