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Poly Takes Hernandez, Sylmar for Bumpy Ride

East Valley baseball: Battling on every pitch, Parrots chase Spartan ace with seven-run third inning and maintain hold on first place with 7-3 victory.

May 05, 1999|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SYLMAR — There are two ways to react when facing a dominant pitcher: Show fear or be fearless.

Poly High batters displayed the latter Tuesday in their much-anticipated showdown with hard-throwing right-hander Ivan Hernandez of Sylmar.

Battling on every pitch, the Parrots knocked out Hernandez with a seven-run third inning and maintained their hold on first place in the East Valley League with a 7-3 victory at Sylmar.

"We kept up the intensity the whole time," second baseman Juan Guerrero said. "I wasn't going to let up. I was going to go out there and hack."

For two innings, Hernandez handled the Parrots (19-6, 12-1 in league play). He struck out four and was throwing balls past hitters, but in the Poly dugout, confidence was growing.

From the first batter, the Parrots refused to let Hernandez intimidate them. Players fouled off pitches and forced five full counts.

"They were confident this time," Poly Coach Chuck Schwal said of his players. "Last year, Ivan just overpowered them."

By the third inning, the Parrots didn't just hit Hernandez--they pounded him. There were no bloopers, no flares, no bad-hop singles--just line drives.

Guerrero hit a run-scoring single, Manny Flores hit a two-run double and Juan Flores drilled a run-scoring single. Soon, it was 4-0 and Hernandez was walking off the field after pitching 2 1/3 innings.

"I was throwing too many pitches," Hernandez said. "I was trying to overpower them. I was squeezing the ball so hard, I got a blood clot. I was too pumped up."

Hernandez (5-3) had not given up a run in a month. In his three previous outings, he shut out Reseda, Grant and North Hollywood.

Tuesday, Poly batters were ready for his fastball.

"I'm proud of the guys," Schwal said. "They were really focused. But we can really swing the bat."

Ivan Lopez relieved Hernandez, but the Parrots didn't let up in the third inning. Jaime Perez contributed a run-scoring single and Johnny Manuel had a two-run single.

By the time the third out was recorded, 11 players had batted, collecting six hits and seven runs.

A 7-0 lead was plenty for senior right-hander Carlos Reguengo (10-2), who struck out seven, walked four and allowed one earned run.

The only effective batter for Sylmar (16- 6, 10-3) was freshman shortstop Jamie Mah, who had three of the Spartans' five hits.

Reguengo entered the game looking forward to his matchup with the Cal State Northridge-bound Hernandez, a returning All-City pitcher.

"It's Sylmar. I had to be ready," Reguengo said.

Schwal told his players before they took the field, "You got to have fun. This is the best."

Then they went out and beat the best in Hernandez, who could face Poly again in the second of the teams' three meetings Thursday at Poly.

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