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Clutch-Hitting Poly Hands Sylmar Ace Another Setback

East Valley baseball: Felix's three-run triple in sixth inning gives Parrots their second victory over Hernandez in three days.

May 07, 1999|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SUN VALLEY — It was the bottom of the sixth inning, two out, the bases loaded and the score tied, 3-3.

George Felix of Poly High was facing All-City pitcher Ivan Hernandez of Sylmar. With a 2-2 count, Felix was certain an 88-mph fastball would come bearing down on him.

"It looked like a beach ball to me," Felix said. "Thank God I was able to hit it."

Felix lined a three-run triple to left-center field, providing Poly with the decisive hit in a 6-3 victory in an East Valley League baseball game Thursday at Poly.

It completed a remarkable week for the Parrots (20-6, 13-1 in league play), who defeated Hernandez (5-4) for the second time in three days.

Beating Hernandez, the Spartan ace, once in a week is a rarity. Doing it twice in a week simply doesn't happen--until Thursday.

"Two wins over a pitcher like that, it's awesome," Poly Coach Chuck Schwal said. "To face him twice in a week is pretty amazing. And our team was surprised. I told [second baseman Juan] Guerrero that Hernandez was pitching again and he said, 'No way.' "

Coach Gary Donatella of Sylmar decided to bring back Hernandez after he pitched 2 1/3 innings and threw 68 pitches on Tuesday in a 7-3 loss.

Donatella called it a "must-win" situation for the Spartans (16-7, 10-4), and Hernandez came close to delivering.

He struck out the side in the first two innings. He struck out 10 through five innings and held a 3-1 lead until the Spartans' defense broke down in the sixth.

With two out, Jaime Perez hit a ground ball off the glove of first baseman Jordan Plasencia to score Juan Flores from third, cutting Sylmar's lead to 3-2. Then Plasencia let a ground ball go through his legs for an error, allowing Angel Espindola to score the tying run from second.

Hernandez walked Johnny Manuel to load the bases. Up came Felix, who hit a line drive that center fielder Larry Anguino attempted to catch with a desperation dive, but the ball rolled to the fence, clearing the bases.

Manny Flores (5-0) pitched a six-hitter, striking out two and walking one to help first-place Poly move three games ahead of Sylmar and stay two games ahead of second-place Grant with three to play.

"We beat ourselves again today," Donatella said. "We're really inconsistent for some reason. We lost the edge somewhere."

Sylmar's hardest hit was a home run by Eddie Camacho over the right-field fence in the fourth.

Hernandez pitched much better than he did on Tuesday, when he was trying to overpower Poly hitters on every pitch. This time, he hit his spots and made the Parrots pay for swinging at bad pitches.

"I was more relaxed and throwing the ball a lot looser," Hernandez said. "It's just frustrating. We should have been out of the [sixth] inning a lot earlier."

Two victories over Hernandez didn't change Poly's opinion of the right-hander.

"I give him a lot of credit--he's very tough," Felix said.

Asked if he ever thought Hernandez could be beaten twice in a week, Felix said, "No way."

That says something about Poly's accomplishment this week.

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