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Westlake Tries to Erase Bad Memory

Marmonte: Warriors get rematch with Thousand Oaks, which won title last year on forfeit.


THOUSAND OAKS — Diplomacy has been benched. Nobody is insisting it's just another ballgame. That the season is young is lost in a rush of adrenaline.

Everybody at Westlake High wants Thousand Oaks, badly.

Everybody at Thousand Oaks wants Westlake just as badly.

Said shortstop Jeff Dragicevich of Westlake: "The last time we played [Thousand Oaks] was one of those things you don't forget."

Said shortstop Billy Lockin of the Lancers: "We've been talking about it all summer, all fall and all winter."

Westlake (8-0), ranked No. 1 in the region by The Times, will visit No. 2 Thousand Oaks (7-1) today at 3 p.m.

A serious cross-town rivalry has existed for years, fueled by the good (longtime friendships), the bad (several transfers) and the ugly (defacing school property).

But last season, events surrounding Westlake's 3-1 victory over Thousand Oaks and subsequent forfeit took the rivalry to a level no one downplays.

Said Coach Bill Sizemore of Thousand Oaks: "Westlake has a very good program but we have two very different philosophies on how a high school baseball team should be run. The rivalry is a great thing. It will be a hard-fought battle."

Said Coach Chuck Berrington of Westlake: "It's a lingering deal because it motivates us. The game is huge and we are pumped for it."

The forfeit turned a three-way tie for the Marmonte League championship among Westlake, Thousand Oaks and Royal into an outright title for the Lancers, their first in Sizemore's four years.

Garrett Michaels, a senior designated hitter, was ejected from Westlake's previous game and was prohibited by Southern Section rules from attending the game against Thousand Oaks.

Unaware of the rule, Michaels sat in the dugout in street clothes. Thousand Oaks knew Westlake was breaking the rule but chose not to inform Berrington.

"T.O. got the banner, but in the second half of the season we beat Royal, we beat T.O.," Berrington said. "It's a funny feeling. We didn't get the honor but we know we played the best."

Westlake players Jonathan Shepard and Ryan McCarthy took out their anger in a way that hurt only themselves. They defaced the Thousand Oaks field with paint and were suspended for the Warriors' playoff game against Calabasas, which they lost.

"Thousand Oaks is notorious for doing it to my field in the past, but my guys went too far and paid the price," Berrington said. "They are not troublemakers or bad kids."

Shepard and McCarthy are excellent players who were chosen for the Area Code Games last summer along with teammates Jesse Kozlowski, Tyler Adamczyk, Michael Nickeas and Dragicevich.

Thousand Oaks counters with right-handed pitcher Chris Cordeiro, left-hander Tracy Goebel and seniors Lockin, Adam Leavitt and Ryan Donahue. Cordeiro beat Westlake, 3-0, in the teams' first meeting last season.

It marked the first Westlake loss to the Lancers since Berrington became coach in 1996. The first of his six victories over Thousand Oaks was a shocking comeback by the Warriors, who trailed, 4-0, with two out in the seventh before rallying.

Berrington, a Thousand Oaks assistant from 1992-94, relishes those victories more than any others. Sizemore and the Lancers had the upper hand last season, winning one by final score and the other by fine print.

Today another chapter will be added.

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