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AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL PLAYOFFS : Darkness Halts Game in Ninth

July 24, 1994|JEFF FLETCHER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VAN NUYS — What happens when you combine baseball teams thin on pitching, sloppy defenses, a 5 p.m. start and a field with no lights?

Come to Birmingham High this morning and find out.

Valley North and Encino ran out of daylight before the end of their American Legion District 20 playoff game on Saturday at Birmingham. The game was called with Valley North leading, 13-10, and batting in the top of the ninth.

The teams will pick up that game at 10 a.m. today.

If Valley North wins, it will play Sun Valley, which eliminated Van Nuys East, 7-6, earlier Saturday at Birmingham.

Sun Valley would have to beat Valley North twice to advance to the Area 6 playoffs at UCLA, but undefeated Valley North would have to win only once under the double-elimination format.

If Encino beats Valley North, though, Encino would play Sun Valley.

The winner of that game would play Valley North later today for the District 20 championship.

There was some debate after the game was called, at about 8:05 p.m., over whether it should have been called earlier. Encino took a 10-9 lead into the ninth inning, but Valley North scored four runs and was still batting when the game was called.

Encino Coach Scott Muckey said he understood the umpires' desire to start the ninth, despite the poor visibility.

"If we would have gotten three outs we wouldn't have had to come back," Muckey said. "I think it's pretty bad that we had to play defense in the dark, but there's nothing you can do about it."

Valley North Coach Pete Redfern, whose team trailed, 10-7, after five innings, was obviously happy to be coming back.

"It's a great comeback by these guys," Redfern said. "They just keep showing heart, heart, heart."

Valley North's comeback was aided by several Encino defensive mishaps. Encino made six errors in the game, contributing to five unearned runs.

"It's kind of disappointing," Muckey said. "We've been doing it with the gloves all year, so you're going to have a bad game sometime."

Valley North's Ray Daryabigi had four hits. LaCour had three hits and Danny Martin had two for Valley North.

Martin, who stands to pick up the victory if Valley North holds the lead this morning, pitched four scoreless innings before the game was suspended.

Sun Valley 7, Van Nuys East 6--Sun Valley scored four runs in the top of the ninth to eliminate Van Nuys East (17-7-1).

With the bases loaded and none out, pinch-hitter Mario Gomez ripped a single down the right-field line, driving in two runs.

A third run scored, tying the game, when outfielder Francisco Dongo's throw sailed past the catcher.

Ray Montenegro drove in Jaime Cerna with the go-ahead run later in the inning.

Van Nuys East right-hander Rusty Howard (3-1) was the victim of Sun Valley's rally in the ninth.

Van Nuys East starter Matt Egan pitched seven strong innings, giving up one earned run.

Sam Vizcarra (3-1) picked up the victory in relief for Sun Valley (18-6-1).

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