Simi Valley High seldom has had difficulty scoring runs. After all, Coach Mike Scyphers is a co-owner of some batting cages in Camarillo and is an incessant instructor of the swing.
Preventing runs, however, has been somewhat of a problem--namely throughout the 1990 season when Simi Valley struggled to finish with a winning record. But pitching and defense have returned to Simi Valley this season and have helped the Pioneers to a 2-0 start.
Wednesday, Derek Rushton and James Manzi came up with the pitching and Simi Valley added its characteristic offensive barrage en route to an 11-4 win over host Westlake in the second round of the El Segundo baseball tournament.
Simi Valley will play host to Long Beach Jordan, the No. 1 team in USA Today's national poll, Friday at 3 p.m. in the quarterfinals.
"If our pitchers can have earned-run averages around four or five, we'll be OK because we can score runs," said Scyphers, whose team collected 12 hits Wednesday.
Consider the job done. Monday, Bill Treadway and Brian Vasey gave the Pioneers strong pitching in a 10-6 win over Long Beach Wilson. On Wednesday, Rushton (1-0) allowed three hits and one earned run through five innings and Manzi threw two innings of scoreless relief.
"(Rushton) sat on the bench all last year and did not pitch well in our doubleheader scrimmage with Rio Mesa," Scyphers said. "But we wanted to see what our kids could do early in the year, and he did a very nice job."
Simi Valley had little trouble with last year's tournament champion, jumping to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and extending it to 8-2 after three. In disposing of Westlake, which entered the game ranked fifth in the Southern Section 5-A Division, the unheralded Pioneers made a believer of Westlake Coach Rich Herrera.
"They're underrated," Herrera said. "Their pitching is a lot better than last year, and they'll always score runs. They're just a much better ballclub."
That became evident in the top of the first when Simi Valley scored three runs--only one of which was earned--on three hits and three errors. The big blow was Steve Bernstein's two-out, two-run double, but perhaps the biggest blow was Westlake's inability to field the ball.
Simi Valley added five runs in the third, aided by two more errors that led to four unearned runs.
Bernstein, Vasey, Daryl Hernandez, and Aaron Fischer each had two hits for Simi Valley. Bernstein drove in three runs and Hernandez stole two bases.