VAN NUYS — Ryan Stonerock and Chris Dickerson each drove in two runs in the eighth inning, but two late rallies fell short and Van Nuys Notre Dame lost to Santa Susana, 8-6, in the first round of the American Legion Area 6 playoffs Thursday at Birmingham High.
Taking advantage of the departure of Santa Susana's Mike Byer, a left-hander who was lifted after pitching six innings of one-hit ball, Van Nuys Notre Dame scored five runs against reliever Brandon Voorhees in the eighth inning and had the tying run on base with two out in the eighth and ninth innings.
"I didn't think it would be this close after the way it started out," said Byer, who retired the last 16 batters and left with Santa Susana leading, 8-1.
District 16 champion Santa Susana (21-5-1) will play Westside at 6 tonight at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Westside, defeated Pomona, 15-6, in another first-round game.
District 20 champion Van Nuys Notre Dame (27-6) will play Ojai at 10 a.m today in the double-elimination tournament at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Byer (6-0) walked four consecutive batters with two out in the first inning to force home a run. But he caught Dickerson looking at a called third strike and allowed only a single by Jon Horwitz in the third inning while finishing his stint with five shutout innings.
Byer benefited from seven days of rest since his last outing.
"I felt pretty fresh and after I adjusted after the first inning, everything went really well," Byer said.
Kevin Jerkens (8-1) of Van Nuys Notre Dame, by contrast, was forced to fight fatigue after pitching 17 innings in the last week, during which his team played seven games.
Jerkens started and pitched 4 1/3 innings against Santa Susana, but admitted, "I was tired early today. I've pitched more than I ever have in my life in the past week or so."
Jerkens, a right-hander, allowed six runs (three earned) and nine hits, striking out three and walking three.
Santa Susana notched a run in the first, then broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in the third on three hits and a sacrifice fly.
Santa Susana's lead grew with two runs on three hits, an error and a walk in the fifth and two runs in the sixth on RBI singles by Voorhees and Byer.
Tony Ortega, Andy Karp and Andy Gerber each had two hits and drove in a run and Byer had one hit and drove in two runs.
Thanks to Stonerock's two-run double, Dickerson's two-run single and a run-scoring single by Chris Scarlata, Van Nuys Notre Dame scored five in the eighth and closed to within 8-6.
Van Nuys Notre Dame had Scarlata on first and Chris Morrell at second, when Santa Susana reliever Brett Wayne struck out James Rivero to end the inning.
Van Nuys Notre Dame had runners at first and third with two out in the ninth inning, but Alec Moss flied out to deep center to end the game.
Brentwood 7, Ojai 4--Ponch Ortiz and John Hill each had two hits for Ojai, but Brentwood won a first-round game at Birmingham High.
Ojai (21-9-1) trailed throughout despite sacrifice flies by Kurt Probasco, Mike Frick and Paul Shirey.
Ojai's other run scored on an error in the eighth.
Brentwood (14-4) advanced to the area tournament despite using two incoming freshmen who should have been declared ineligible according to state American Legion rules because they live outside Brentwood's residence area.
According to Area 6 Co-Commissioner Julio Yniguez, the two ninth graders-to-be were cleared to play by Legion state chairman Harold Hall, and both contributed to Brentwood's victory.
Steve Moss had two of Brentwood's eight hits, including a sixth-inning triple. Brent Marliss struck out twice, but he reached base on a walk and an error and scored twice.
Ojai Manager Bob Hill said he has no plans to appeal the outcome against Brentwood.
"Even if I did protest, the guys I'd be appealing to are here, and they see it," Hill said. "So it wouldn't do me any good anyway.
"The way I look at it is, 'You go get your 18 guys, and I'll get my 18 guys, and let's go play and just see what happens.' "