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El Camino Real Hands Victory to Chatsworth

West Valley: Conquistadores plagued by errors; Chancellors take advantage when it counts, 8-6.


WOODLAND HILLS — The El Camino Real High baseball team might have gotten away with one subpar defensive inning in its West Valley League game against Chatsworth on Tuesday afternoon, but a second proved much too costly for the Conquistadores against the top-ranked team in the region.

The Chancellors scored four runs in the second and seventh innings off El Camino Real miscues, then held off the Conquistadores for an 8-6 victory before a standing-room only crowd at El Camino Real.

Coming off six consecutive victories, El Camino Real came out strong offensively. A double by Woody Cliffords and a triple by Conor Jackson led to an early 2-0 lead.

But in the second inning Jesus Gallo misplayed two balls in right field. Two batters after a fly ball by Loren Devries fell between Cliffords and Gallo, Gallo misjudged a drive by Danny Eisenberg that turned into a double, scoring two runs. Chatsworth (21-2, 10-1) finished the inning with a 4-2 lead.

"This was not one of our better games," said El Camino Real pitcher Kurt Birkins, who fell to 7-1.

"We've been playing much better than this the last couple of weeks."

El Camino Real couldn't generate any more offense--managing only two hits over the next four innings--until Cliffords hit a home run off Ismael Marin (6-1) to open the sixth.

Birkins had been working his way in and out of potential trouble all game, but it caught up to him in the seventh inning after 104 pitches. He walked the first two batters, then Mike Kunes attempted to sacrifice. Birkins picked the ball up cleanly but threw it past third baseman Jackson. Eisenberg scored, Matt Cassel advanced to third and Kunes went to second.

"We were practicing that play," El Camino Real Coach Mike Maio said. "It was just a case where we didn't make the play and it hurt us."

Adam Sperling relieved Birkins, gave up a two-run double to Tom Morefield on his first pitch and allowed another run before getting out of the inning.

El Camino Real (11-7, 9-2) didn't give up, getting three runs off reliever Scott Sellz before he recovered to strike out Birkins to end the game.

Chatsworth should have an edge in the rematch Thursday because ace Mike Kunes did not pitch.

Kunes figured to start on the mound but the Chancellors had to rearrange their lineup after shortstop Matt Fisher was suspended by the school for one game.

Third baseman Eisenberg moved to shortstop, Cassel moved from first to third base and Kunes switched to first. Marin was solid after giving up two runs in the first.

"[Marin] did a very good job," Chatsworth Coach Tom Muesborn said. "After the first inning he didn't give anything up until late. He did what we asked of him."

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