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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

El Camino Real's Seventh is Divine

City Championship: Conquistadores, trailing 6-0 with no hits, rally in final inning and beat Sylmar, 7-6, on Kort's double.

May 27, 2000|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WOODLAND HILLS — Jason Kort did not dip his bat in holy water, it only seemed that way.

Trailing Sylmar, 6-0, with no hits and little hope, El Camino Real High put together a miracle rally in the seventh inning to pull out a 7-6 victory on Kort's two-out, two-strike, bases-loaded double in a City Championship first-round game Friday at El Camino Real.

"It's indescribable," said Conor Jackson, who was out of breath after racing from first base to score the winning run. "It's what a comeback is. It's what El Camino Real is about in the playoffs."

Four-time City champion El Camino Real (19-8) was facing a worst-case scenario.

Right-hander Ivan Lopez of Sylmar had allowed no hits through six innings, retiring 11 consecutive batters at one point. A five-run seventh inning had given the Spartans (18-9) a 6-0 lead and put them in position to avenge years of frustrating playoff defeats to West Valley League teams.

Kort led off the seventh with a bloop single to center, breaking up the no-hitter. Sean McElroy singled and Beau Savage followed with a run-scoring single.

Sylmar Coach Gary Donatella replaced Lopez with left-hander Eddie Camacho. Sean Thomas hit a bloop single to right, driving in McElroy, to make the score 6-2. After a flyout, Greg Acheatel was hit by a pitch, loading the bases.

Nick Eustrom popped out for the second out. Tension mounted after sophomore Christian Hariot lined a single to left, cutting the Conquistadores' deficit to 6-3.

That brought up Jackson, the Conquistadores' All-City shortstop, with the bases loaded.

But Donatella ordered an intentional walk, forcing in a run to make the score 6-4.

"We just decided [Jackson] wasn't going to beat us," Donatella said.

Up came Kort, a junior first baseman. All season, he has hit behind Jackson. All season, teams have dared Kort to beat them.

"He's been clutch all year," catcher Mike Leduc said. "He has a lot of nerve to come up in that situation and hit the ball."

With the crowd standing and yelling, Kort hit a 2-2 pitch over the head of left fielder Hector Chavez.

"I haven't had that kind of a moment in a long time," Kort said.

If there was a moment that symbolized the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, this was it.

While El Camino Real players celebrated, Sylmar players stood motionless in disbelief. Others dropped to the ground, too stunned to believe the game was over and they had lost. Tears flowed.

Chavez, a junior, took the loss hardest. He had two hits, including a two-run double. But he was crying afterward, probably thinking he should have caught Kort's ball.

Donatella tried to console him.

"If it wasn't for you, we wouldn't be playing today," he said.

El Camino Real players knew just how Sylmar felt. A year ago, the Conquistadores lost a quarterfinal game to Poly, 4-3, on a two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh.

"It's the most horrible feeling on Earth," Coach Bob Gannsle said.

El Camino Real will play No. 3-seeded San Pedro in a quarterfinal on Tuesday at Harbor College.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

BASEBALL PLAYOFFS

CITY SECTION

First-Round Results

City Championship

Chatsworth 4, Grant 2

El Camino Real 7, Sylmar 6

Kennedy 6, Carson 1

San Fernando 2, Marshall 1

San Pedro 3, Granada Hills 0

Poly 2, Westchester 1

City Invitational

North Hollywood 9, L.A. Wilson 4

Venice 6, Cleveland 3

Bell 4, Verdugo Hills 0

Van Nuys 12, Palisades 8

Monroe 5, Garfield 2

Birmingham 9, Narbonne 2

*

SOUTHERN SECTION

Quarterfinal Results

Division I

Long Beach Wilson 4, Camarillo 1

Division II

Santa Barbara 3, Thousand Oaks 2 (10 inn.)

Corona Centennial 5, Hart 4 (11 inn.)

Division III

Charter Oak 6, Westlake 5 (9 inn.)

Division IV

Notre Dame 12, South Hills 6 (6 inn.)

Ridgecrest Burroughs 3, Chaminade 1

Division V

St. Bonaventure 9, Paraclete 0

Village Christian 3, Santa Ana Calvary 2

Division VI

Grace Brethren 10, Thacher 2

Bloomington Christian 9, Faith Baptist 1

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