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Sylmar Is First Off the Blocks

Baseball: Spartans end drought against Poly, 7-2, to start East Valley League play on high note.


SUN VALLEY — Now the real race has begun.

After beating up on Mid-Valley League opponents for the better part of a month, there was no better way for the Sylmar High baseball team to kick off East Valley League play than by ending a double-digit losing streak to its biggest rival.

After spotting Poly a one-run lead, the Spartans broke through with five runs in the fifth inning and went on to defeat the Parrots, 7-2, Monday at Poly. Sylmar defeated Poly for the first time since 1994, ending a 10-game skid.

"What hump?" Sylmar Coach Gary Donatella said before breaking into a smile. "We are really happy to get a victory over this team."

Sylmar (15-3, 9-0) wasn't the only team feasting on the Mid-Valley League while waiting for league play to begin.

With two rained out games still to be made up, Poly, Sylmar and North Hollywood compiled a 21-0-1 record against Monroe, Van Nuys, Reseda and Canoga Park. Even Grant, who has played only one game outside the Valley Pac-8 Conference, won four against the Mid-Valley League teams.

But over the next 4 1/2 weeks, Poly, Sylmar and North Hollywood will face each other three times. The first installment came Monday.

"Actually, we've been waiting for this game since last year," Sylmar second baseman Carl Ball said.

Poly led, 1-0, until the fifth, when a sharply hit ball by Ball with the bases loaded and one out skipped off the glove of first baseman Manuel Flores, scoring two runs. Ball had fouled off three pitches with two strikes.

Poly starter Carlos Reguengo (4-2), who had pitched well, was replaced by freshman Abraham Gonzalez, who didn't retire any of the three batters he faced, giving up a bases-loaded walk to Ivan Hernandez and yielding a two-run single to Eddie Camacho that put Sylmar ahead, 5-1.

"I knew [Carlos] was going to be a little down after giving up the hard hit," Poly Coach Chuck Schwal said. "Abraham has three saves. I've brought him in there against tough teams and he's done the job. There was no reason for me to think he wouldn't this time."

The Parrots (11-3-1, 6-1-1) managed one more run, in the fifth, but could do no more against Hernandez, who leads the region in strikeouts with 61. He retired the last nine batters in order, striking out three of the last five.

Hernandez (6-1) finished with a four-hitter and eight strikeouts. After giving up three doubles in the first three innings, Hernandez held Poly to a single by Juan Flores over the final four innings.

Poly and Sylmar will play again on Wednesday.

"That will be a big test to see how we get back," Schwal said. "We've got guys who are down right now. We'll see how they come back."

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