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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

San Fernando Bounced Out of Playoffs by Banning, 4-3

City Championship: In a game of mistakes, Tigers make the last one and Pilots score three runs in seventh inning.

May 31, 2000|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN FERNANDO — That's the way the ball bounces and that's why San Fernando High is no longer competing in the City Section baseball playoffs.

The ball bad-hopped every which way Tuesday but bounced Banning's way in the end, allowing the Pilots to escape with a 4-3 victory to advance to the semifinals Thursday against Kennedy.

Both teams committed three errors and both capitalized on the other's sloppiness to score their runs and provide for an exciting finish.

With two out and runners at second and third in the bottom of the seventh, first baseman Sergio Jimenez of Banning bobbled Jesus Martinez's hard smash but threw in time to pitcher Rafael Sixtos for the final out.

Banning (27-6) rallied from a two-run deficit with three runs in the seventh, aided by a costly error by shortstop Ronny Mendez on a potential double play that allowed Lucas Cabrera to score from second with the go-ahead run.

San Fernando (20-12), vying for its first City final berth since 1991, scored three runs in the sixth with the help of two errors by third baseman Robert Jones and a wild pitch by Sixtos that allowed Jess Moreno to score from third.

The Tigers threatened in the seventh, thanks in part to an error by Jimenez and a passed ball.

Coach John Gonzalez of Banning attributed the teams' bumbling to butterflies.

"It's playoff time," Gonzalez said. "The kids are excited. I tell the kids, you know things are going to happen if you put the ball in play."

Sixtos (13-1), the staff ace, replaced left-hander Juan Banuelos in the sixth, ending what had been an entertaining duel between Banuelos and Abraham Gonzalez, who pitched a four-hitter.

"It's not like us to make errors," said Gonzalez, who is 9-3. "[Tuesday] was just one of those days. We had the game, I don't know if we had any jitters. The best team sucks it up and wins games."

The game was scoreless until the sixth when Cabrera's ground ball went through the legs of Mendez at shortstop and Jimenez raced home from second.

San Fernando threatened to tie in the fifth, advancing a runner to third with two out. But Jones' throw on the run barely beat Manny Flores to first for the third out.

"We've talked about it all year, eliminating mistakes in games," said Coach Armando Gomez of San Fernando. "Even when we were up by two, I knew they weren't going to die."

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