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VALLEY/VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Pacheco Throws Poly for a Loss, 2-0

April 23, 1998|MICHAEL LAZARUS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SYLMAR — Mario Pacheco is used to being on the other end of these pitching gems.

The Sylmar High senior is usually the catcher for ace Ivan Hernandez but Wednesday against Poly, Pacheco turned in a pretty good performance of his own.

Pacheco gave up one hit--a chopper by Manny Flores that squeezed through the infield in the fourth inning--and the Spartans strung together enough singles for a 2-0 victory in an East Valley League baseball game at Sylmar.

The Spartans (16-3, 10-0 in conference play) have won both games against the Parrots this season after losing 10 consecutive times dating to 1994. The teams play again next month.

Pacheco wasn't overpowering--he struck out only two batters--but he was resourceful. He yielded mostly harmless ground balls and Sylmar played flawless defense.

Pacheco helped himself by picking off Flores following the single. He walked three batters and hit another but needed only 78 pitches to finish off the Parrots.

"I am a little tired," Pacheco said. "But I pitch well in hot weather. I wanted to finish this."

While Hernandez has gathered most of the attention for the Spartans, compiling a 6-1 record with 61 strikeouts, Pacheco (6-1) is quietly providing a solid, if slightly inconsistent, complement.

His earned-run average has finally dipped below 3.00.

"He pitched great the last two starts before we went [to Las Vegas for a spring break tournament]" Sylmar Coach Gary Donatella said. "Then in Vegas he was little off. I had to ask him if he wanted it today or should I go to [No. 3 pitcher Fidel Espinoza]. He wanted it."

Poly (11-4-1, 6-2-1) had a few opportunities, getting the leadoff hitter on base three times. But the Parrots never got a runner beyond second base and finished with five hits in the two-game series.

"[Pacheco] did kind of sneak up on us," Poly Coach Chuck Schwal said. "You figure we get four hits on Hernandez, we should do a little better against their other guy but we didn't."

The Spartans got all the offense they needed in the first inning. Sam Ponce walked to lead off, stole second and scored on consecutive singles by Hernandez and Eddie Camacho.

Sylmar added a run when Ponce stole home with two out in the third inning. Poly's Abraham Gonzalez delivered the ball in time but catcher Alberto Flores lost it as he tried to apply the tag.

"It's a play we don't want to use too much," Donatella said. "But there were two outs, we figured, 'Why not, let's try it.' "

With Espinoza and Hernandez warming up in the bullpen in the later innings, Pacheco never got into serious trouble. Donatella had to visit the mound only once.

Sylmar tried to pad the lead--the Spartans had runners on base in every inning--but Gonzalez (4-2) and Salvador Trujillo, who came on in relief in the fifth inning, kept the Spartans from scoring any additional runs.

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