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Torrid Westlake Pulls Into Marmonte Tie


With one week left in the regular season, the surging Westlake High baseball team has pulled into a tie for first place in the Marmonte League and is playing like a Southern Section Division III title contender.

Kevin Howard hit a two-run home run and junior right-hander Jesse Kozlowski pitched the most-effective game of his varsity career to help the Warriors defeat Thousand Oaks, 3-1, Friday at Westlake.

"It's always huge when you start peaking before the playoffs, and that's what we're doing," Howard said.

It was the fifth consecutive victory for Westlake (17-4-1, 8-3 in league play), which is tied for first place with Thousand Oaks (16-6, 8-3), one-half game ahead of defending champion Royal (14-5-1, 7-3).

Kozlowski (4-3) needed only 77 pitches to outduel Chris Cordeiro (5-2) in a game that lasted just 95 minutes. He struck out five, walked one and allowed six hits.

"[Kozlowski] was fantastic," catcher Michael Nickeas said. "He kept his fastball down and that was the key."

Howard hit his 10th home run in the first inning and added a triple in the sixth, scoring on a single by sophomore Tyler Adamczyk, a towering 6-foot-5 first baseman who's a rising star himself.

Adamczyk ended the game by making a backhand stab of a ground ball and tossing it to Kozlowski for the final out.

This was a well-played game between two teams destined to do well in the playoffs.

Four Westlake baserunners were thrown out because of exceptional Thousand Oaks defense. Second baseman Adam Leavitt twice nailed runners with relay throws from the outfield. Shortstop Billy Lockin, maybe the best defensively in the region, went deep into the hole to throw out a Westlake batter.

There were few people expecting Westlake to have only four losses at this point in the season. The Warriors had to replace eight starters from a team that reached the Division III final. But young players, like Adamczyk and third baseman Ryan McCarthy, who had two hits Friday, have stepped in, and Howard is having an MVP-type season with a batting average above .500.

"We're playing well," Warrior Coach Chuck Berrington said. "We're finding ways to win."

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