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Poly Regroups on Groundwork Laid by Hampel

Baseball: Left-hander stops North Hollywood, 8-0, helping Parrots end week on high note.


NORTH HOLLYWOOD — A week that began for Poly High with an embarrassing defeat to the last-place team in the Sunset Six League ended Friday with the Parrots regaining command of their baseball destiny.

Facing a challenge from second-place North Hollywood, the Parrots turned to left-hander Joe Hampel, who produced 16 groundouts and pitched a three-hitter in Poly's 8-0 victory at North Hollywood.

The victory left Poly (19-6, 11-2 in league) with a one-game lead over Grant (10-3) and a two-game advantage over North Hollywood (13-15, 9-4) with two games to play.

Most importantly, Poly has recovered from Monday's 4-3 loss to Canoga Park with consecutive shutouts.

"The pitching is coming through big time," Coach Chuck Schwal said.

Hampel (4-3) struck out three and walked one. With the Huskies hitting ground ball after ground ball, it was only a matter of Poly's infielders making the plays.

"I try to keep the ball low and let my fielders do the work," Hampel said.

Sophomore Miguel Gomez was moved from second base to shortstop as part of several lineup changes Schwal made following the Canoga Park defeat. Gomez had five assists Friday and doesn't figure to come out of the lineup over the next two seasons.

Gomez also contributed two singles. His older brother, junior first baseman Alfredo Gomez, had a double and two-run single.

It's clear everyone, from players to coaches, thought long and hard after losing to a team that had not won in three seasons. There was a team meeting, with players and coaches voicing concerns.

"It was like a wake-up call," second baseman Zack Sims said.

Added Hampel: "We had a long talk on Tuesday, and we started to come together. We chose to get better."

The Parrots start six non-seniors and only need a victory against Grant on Wednesday to clinch the league title.

"They have a lot of pride and losing to Canoga Park was something that hurt them and they responded," Schwal said.

For North Hollywood to be within striking distance of the league lead shows how much the Huskies have improved. They start three freshmen and a sophomore. But pitcher Adrian Menchaca couldn't match Hampel.

The Parrots scored three runs in the third inning on four consecutive hits that included a run-scoring double by Sims, a run-scoring single by Miguel Gomez and a run-scoring single by Jaime Perez.

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