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Depleted Westlake Finds New Weapons

Baseball: With two starters suspended, Warriors defeat Burroughs, 11-5, in Division III wild-card game.


WESTLAKE VILLAGE — They're only teenagers, but Westlake High baseball players displayed the maturity of adults Tuesday in putting two weeks of controversy behind to defeat Burroughs, 11-5, in a Southern Section Division III wild-card playoff game at Westlake.

With starting players Ryan McCarthy and Jonathan Shepard suspended for disciplinary reasons and the Warriors stuck as the No. 3-seeded from the Marmonte League because of a forfeit defeat to Thousand Oaks, Westlake (19-5-1) had every reason to make excuses.

But this is a team that keeps finding ways to win and players to deliver.

Senior first baseman Garett Michaels was the hitting star, going four for four and coming through with a bases-loaded single in the sixth inning to break a 5-5 tie and ignite a six-run inning.

"We try to pick each other up," Michaels said. "If everyone steps up, we don't have any problems."

Junior third baseman Jeff Dragicevich contributed two hits and displayed a powerful arm.

New left fielder Alan Osborne had two hits and new second baseman Ryan Brockett hit a double and drove in a run with a groundout.

"We're trying to look past it," catcher Michael Nickeas said of the Warriors' troubles. "We've got a great bench and we're going to use it. It's a shame stuff like this has to happen. This team has done a great job coming back. We still have our core together."

Take away the May 7 forfeit defeat to Thousand Oaks for having an ejected player in the dugout, and Westlake has won eight consecutive games, making the Warriors one of the hottest teams in the region.

But Burroughs (13-14), the third-place finisher from the Foothill League, gave Westlake a scare.

"I was like, 'Holy cow, that's the best team that's played us here,' " Coach Chuck Berrington of Westlake said.

Trailing, 5-0, the Indians got back into the game on Mike Shamoon's grand slam in the fifth inning. Freshman Tim Murphy contributed a run-scoring single in the sixth, tying the score, 5-5.

In the sixth, Westlake scored six runs, taking advantage of three errors and two hits each in the inning by Kevin Howard and Cory Taillon.

Westlake moved into a first-round Division III game against Frontier League champion Calabasas on Friday at Calabasas.

Afterward, Westlake players gathered in their dugout and tore away a piece of paper that had a big No. 1 written on it. It signifies a countdown to the number of victories needed to become Division III champions. After each playoff game, the Warriors intend to tear away another piece of paper until it reaches the magic number of five.

"It's an important time for everyone to be coming together," Dragicevich said.

* SOUTHERN SECTION PLAYOFFS: Notre Dame wins, 2-1, to set up a first-round game against Thousand Oaks.

* CITY SECTION: Cleveland upsets Granada Hills in eighth inning.

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