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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Lopez Is Right On After Being Left Out

Little League: He pitches three strong innings in first outing as Northridge beats Conejo Valley, 2-0.

August 05, 2000|DARIN ESPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — When Northridge Little League chose its 9-and-10-year-old all-star team to compete in post-season play, Daniel Lopez was not on the list.

After his performance against Conejo Valley in the championship game of the Division 3 Southern California Championship on Friday night at Heritage Park, it is doubtful Lopez will be overlooked again.

Lopez, who was added to the team when another player decided not to play, pitched three hitless innings in relief to combine on a one-hitter with Josh Reece in Northridge's 2-0 victory.

"We wanted to make it look like we were throwing our ace," Coach Mark Lenhoff of Northridge said about the 5-foot-5 right-hander.

"He's a big kid and we wanted him to intimidate them with his size. The first time we warmed him up was [Friday]."

Lopez, who did not strike out a batter but hit Christian Fick with one out in the fourth inning and walked two with two out in the fifth, was told in the second inning he would be pitching.

"I was a little nervous [after the walks]," Lopez said.

After a conference between Lenhoff, Lopez and catcher Nicky Rosenberger, Michael Shelton grounded the second pitch to shortstop Josh Efron for a fielder's choice to end the inning.

Lopez retired the side in order in the sixth, the final out coming when pitcher Joseph Sharrar grounded back to the mound.

Lopez said as soon as the ball came toward him, he thought, "We won."

Reece was the other key to Northridge's second victory over Conejo Valley in two nights. He struck out three without a walk, allowing only a first-inning single by Jett Bandy, and his third-inning sacrifice fly to center field scored Patrick McKenna with the first of Northridge's two runs.

Efron scored moments later on a passed ball.

"We knew it would be a difficult game and we have a lot of respect for Northridge," said Coach Bob Cohen of Conejo Valley, whose team defeated Northridge, 7-2, on Sunday and lost, 3-2, Thursday in a semifinal.

"The balls we hit hard [Friday night] found their gloves, and we just have to tip our hats to the Northridge team."

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