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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Chatsworth Is Knocked from Perch by Kennedy

City baseball: Defense, Geery's hitting help Golden Cougars upset top-seeded Chancellors, 11-4.

May 31, 2000|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CHATSWORTH — To slay a No. 1-seeded team, you need a group of players fearless in their mission and relentless in their execution.

Kennedy High performed both tasks Tuesday with stunning clarity, riding the hitting of sophomore Adam Geery and near-flawless defense to defeat top-seeded Chatsworth, 11-4, in a City Championship quarterfinal baseball game.

Geery had a single, two doubles, a home run and three runs batted in to highlight a 16-hit attack against Chatsworth's usually unstoppable pitchers, Sean Richards and Joe Guntz.

But it was defense that earned Kennedy (21-11-1) a semifinal berth against Banning (27-6) on Thursday at El Camino College.

Coach Manny Alvarado has so many players worthy of Gold Gloves he might as well head to the neighborhood sporting goods store and purchase awards en masse. From shortstop Juan Sepulveda to second baseman Chad Shaw to catcher Phil Avlas to center fielder Danny Mata, these players don't crack under pressure.

In the first five innings, when the game was still in doubt, Kennedy frustrated the Chancellors (25-2-1) with crucial catches and throws. There was a pickoff, a runner thrown out stealing, a line drive caught to start a double play, a bunt fielded so well that a runner was thrown out at third. On and on it went.

"Everybody was focused and was ready to sacrifice their bodies to get an out," Geery said.

Kennedy players were sliding into first, diving for loose balls and dirtying their uniforms so thoroughly that the team's mothers could be washing until the early morning hours.

"We feel so good right now," Avlas said.

For a team that started the season 2-6-1, Kennedy has come surging back to move within one victory of playing for a record-tying sixth City Championship at Dodger Stadium. The list of contributors are many.

Designated hitter Eric Perez is an inspiration. On March 16, while warming up for a game against Chatsworth, he tore a ligament in his back and was transported by ambulance with numbness in his legs. He was supposed to miss the rest of the season.

But after close to two months of rehabilitation, he was back in the starting lineup on Tuesday and had an RBI single and a two-strike bunt single.

"He has a ton of heart," Alvarado said.

Geery was pulled from the starting rotation because of an injury early in the season and has recovered to hurt teams with his arm and bat.

"He tore it up today," Avlas said. "He practices and practices."

Kennedy broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in the fourth inning on a two-run single by Shaw and a run-scoring single by Perez.

Geery's run-scoring double in the fifth made it 5-1.

Then came a six-run sixth that featured three bunt singles, a two-run bad-hop single by Jose Robles and Geery's two-run home run.

"We're not accustomed to giving up that many runs," said Chatsworth Coach Tom Meusborn, whose team had a winning streak snapped at 20 games. "They executed."

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