YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Irvine Lets Title Slip Away : Upper Deck: Simi Valley rallies to win championship game, 7-6, in nine innings.


FULLERTON — The Upper Deck Tournament championship slipped through Irvine's fingers, figuratively and literally, Thursday night.

Paul Prendeville's mad dash from first base gave Simi Valley a 7-6 victory in nine innings in front of 2,000 at Cal State Fullerton. It was a game the Vaqueros once had in the palm of their hands.

Irvine led, 4-2, going into the seventh, but relief pitcher Scott Seal couldn't hold it. The Pioneers, ranked second in the nation by USA Today, scored four runs, then gave up two in the bottom of the inning, sending the game into extra innings.

With two outs in the ninth, Bill Scheffels walked and was replaced by Prendeville. Jeff Michael followed with a flare into right field and Prendeville never hesitated, heading to third. When Seal, who had been moved to right field, had trouble picking up the ball, Prendeville continued home, beating the throw easily.

"I just started running," Prendeville said. "I didn't know what was happening, but the coach waved me home. I had to score."

Said Irvine Coach Bob Flint: "That's just something that doesn't happen to Scott. He's too good of a fielder."

Irvine put two runners on in the bottom of the ninth, but David Hongslo grounded into a double play to end the game.

It was a rough evening for Seal, who had been asked to preserve the 4-2 lead. He relieved Ryan O'Toole to start the sixth, only Seal's second appearance as a pitcher this season.

It showed.

Seal got out of the sixth with a double play but wasn't so fortunate in the seventh.

Simi Valley (14-1), which had scored 43 runs in three previous games, showed its offensive ability in the seventh. By the time the Pioneers were done, they had four runs.

Britten Pond, who had three runs batted in, drove in two with a single, tying the score, 4-4. Kevin Nykoluk and Ryan Hawkins followed with doubles for a 6-4 lead.

"That wasn't Scott's fault," Flint said. "He hasn't pitched since the second game of the season. We were asking him to do too much."

Irvine (11-6) got Seal off the hook, temporarily. The Vaqueros scored once on an error, then Chris Greinke tied the score with a single.

"That was a hell of a game," Simi Valley Coach Mike Scyphers said. "We haven't really been tested all season. We needed that."

Irvine seemed in control through six innings, mostly because of O'Toole.

O'Toole, who missed nearly a month of the season with a torn hamstring, gave up two runs in the first inning, then overpowered the Pioneers. He gave up three hits, only one after the first inning. O'Toole struck out five and left after the fifth, leading 4-2.

Irvine, which had scored 28 runs in the previous three games, chipped away at Simi Valley after the first. The Vaqueros got an unearned run in the bottom of the first and an RBI single by Loc Tran in the second to tie the score.

Tommie Louie gave Irvine the lead in the third with a bases-empty home run, which curved just inside the left-field foul pole. Irvine added a run in the fourth when Aron Garcia reached on a two-out error and Eric Sobek followed with a triple for a 4-2 lead.

In other tournament games:

Mater Dei 10, Gonzalez (Fla.) Tate 3--Brian Hurlburt went four for four with two runs scored and three RBIs, including a two-run triple to lead Mater Dei (13-2) in the fifth-place game. Also for the Monarchs, Jeff Frankel went two for four with a run scored and two RBIs and Eric Mattern was two for three with a run scored and two RBIs.

Esperanza 22, Marist (N.J.) 0--Darren Bish hit a three-run home run in a six-run second inning for Esperanza, which led 10-0 after two and 16-0 after a six-run fourth inning in the seventh-place game.

Craig Rowen had two hits, including a two-run homer in the fifth, and three RBIs for the Aztecs (10-5).

Mark Herlehy (4-1) allowed two hits in three innings to pick up his second victory of the tournament. In nine innings, he allowed one run and five hits.

El Dorado 5, Las Vegas Valley 0--Valley managed only four hits off Benito Flores and Glenn Posein. Flores had three strikeouts in six innings before Posein took over in the seventh for the Golden Hawks (10-5) in the consolation game.

Jim Beck drove in two runs for El Dorado.

Los Angeles Times Articles