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El Camino Proves It's for Real : High schools: Conquistadores win first City title by holding off Chatsworth, 7-6.


And El Camino Real High Coach Mike Maio thought he had stomach trouble earlier?

Thursday night's City Section 4-A Division final was one for the stoutest of hearts, no matter which side of the Dodger Stadium stands the fans chose to sit.

After falling behind by five runs in the first inning, El Camino Real battled back to win, 7-6, before an estimated 4,500 fans.

Maio wasn't sure what to think early on. "I wasn't thinking about anything," he said of Chatsworth's first-inning uprising. "(The comeback) just shows the character of these guys."

The championship was the first in school history for Maio and El Camino Real, which had failed in prime time in 1984 and 1990.

It may not have been pretty--and nobody likely will insist that it was--but it was enough. Barely.

El Camino Real held the slimmest of leads, 6-5, in the bottom of the sixth before first baseman Craig Carlton tripled home shortstop Dan Cey with what proved to be a necessary run.

Carlton, who drove in two runs in Tuesday's 6-0 defeat of Monroe in the semifinals, drove in two runs to lead the Conquistadores, who finished 24-2.

Left-hander Randy Wolf entered the game with his team holding a 6-5 lead in the sixth, but with Chatsworth (22-8) threatening. The Chancellors, which lost four games to the Conquistadores this season, had runners on first and third and nobody out, but Wolf escaped the jam.

In the seventh, Chatsworth had runners on first and second with one out when Ryan Mort hit a comebacker. Wolf threw to Cey for the force at second, but Cey's throw to first skipped under the glove of Carlton for Cey's second error. Brandon Murphy scored on the play and Mort moved to second. Mike Amado worked Wolf to a full count and fouled off three straight pitches before striking out to end the game.

The El Camino Real pitching staff had not allowed a run in the first three postseason games, but served up one before the second out was recorded and five before the first frame was complete.

Chatsworth, in fact, sent 10 batters to the plate in the first and banged out four hits.

Mark Lopez led off with a single to right and moved to second on a bunt single by Bryan LaCour. With one out, Murphy singled to left on a hit-and-run play to drive in Lopez for a 1-0 lead.

A wild pitch moved LaCour to third, where he scored on an infield ground out by sophomore Ray Daryabigi.

Right-hander Kevin Szymanski (10-1) then walked two batters to load the bases before Luis Enriquez lined a single into center to drive home Daryabigi for a 3-0 lead.

Ray Daryabigi, Rod's twin, then sent a do-or-die chopper to Cey, and Cey's throw to first skipped past Carlton, allowing two more runs to score.

The bottom of the inning, which featured another key error and two more walks, was just as rocky. El Camino Real sent eight batters to the plate and the inning ended when Lopez, Chatsworth's All-City center fielder, threw out Justin Balser at the plate after a run-scoring single by Mike Smith.

As it was, the Conquistadores, who are ranked fourth in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, used a bases-loaded walk by John Novak and Smith's two-out liner to trim the deficit to 5-3. All three runs were unearned.

Chatsworth right-hander Harry Kenoi, a 15-year-old sophomore, failed to survive the second inning. With the bases loaded and one out, he unloaded a wild pitch to Wolf, allowing a run to score from third, and was yanked.

Junior Jim DeBiase assumed a 1-and-0 count, and retired Wolf on a grounder to short as Jeff Astgen scored from third to tie it up, 5-5.

It was an uphill climb, but El Camino Real finally climbed out of its five-run hole in the fourth, when a throwing error by Chatsworth third baseman Luis Enriquez opened the door.

With the bases loaded and one out, Carlton--who had struck out in his first two at-bats--lofted a sacrifice fly to left on an 0-and-2 pitch to drive home Cey from third for a 6-5 lead.

Szymanski settled down appreciably after the first. He held Chatsworth to two singles over the next four innings as his teammates scratched and clawed back against Kenoi and DeBiase, a right-hander.

In the sixth, however, it again started to unravel. Amado was safe on Balser's fielding error at third and Enriquez followed with a perfectly executed hit-and-run single through the hole in right to put runners on the corners with nobody out.

Wolf, a junior left-hander who had not allowed a run in his 25 previous innings, was called in from right field to relieve.

After a sacrifice bunt moved pinch-runner Jeremy Tayahua to second, Lopez struck out on a 1-and-2 fastball for the second out.

LaCour, who entered the game with 29 runs batted in, second-best on the team, hit a liner into gap in left-center. Smith, however, caught the ball with a headfirst dive to his left to save the one-run lead.

LaCour, already rounding second, looked out toward Smith with his hands on his batting helmet in amazement.

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