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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Guntz Helps Chatsworth Avoid Flashback

High school baseball: Left-hander shuts down El Camino Real, 5-1, despite presence of old nemesis Maio.

April 18, 2001|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CHATSWORTH — When Coach Tom Meusborn of Chatsworth High saw El Camino Real baseball players taking the field Tuesday with Mike Maio leading the way, he acted like he had seen a ghost.

"I almost had to wipe my eyes to see what I was seeing," he said.

It was a strange scene, with Maio plucked out of retirement to join David Hussey as co-coach after the firing of Coach Bob Ganssle and assistant Dave Siedelman because of allegations they made physical contact with an El Camino Real player last week.

Meusborn lost three times to Maio in City Championship games and probably wondered if he was experiencing a flashback after Christian Hariot led off the game with a home run against Joe Guntz, Chatsworth's ace.

Guntz settled down to strike out 10, walk none and help the Chancellors to a 5-1 West Valley League victory, their 21st in a row.

Chatsworth (21-0, 7-0 in league play) is three victories shy of tying the school record for consecutive victories established by the 1988 team that was ranked No. 1 in the nation and featured future major leaguers Derek Wallace and Rich Aude.

It was the second consecutive game in which Guntz (8-0), a left-hander, recorded double figures in strikeouts and no walks.

"I don't know what's wrong with me," Guntz said, jokingly. "I went back to basics. I was struggling a couple weeks ago, had to break down my mechanics and put it all together."

Greg Acheatel (4-4) turned in an improved pitching performance for El Camino Real (9-9, 2-5). He failed to finish his last two league starts, but he struck out three, walked one and allowed seven hits Tuesday.

Chatsworth took a 2-1 lead in the third inning on George Spadier's run-scoring single. Jon Selman hit a run-scoring triple in the sixth and scored on Ryan Barba's sacrifice fly.

El Camino Real seemed more focused than usual with the highly respected Maio on the bench wearing a cap and street clothes. By the third inning, his voice had begun to give out.

He guided El Camino Real to four City Championships before stepping down after the 1998 season. He has been teamed with Hussey, who directed the boys' soccer team to a City Championship this year. They have a difficult task. El Camino Real is in jeopardy of not making the playoffs for first time since 1983.

But Maio was known for getting his teams to play their best late in the season. Meusborn knows Maio's capabilities and was grateful former El Camino Real pitcher Randy Wolf didn't show up with his former coach.

"I know Randy is in Philadelphia, so I wasn't worried about that, but we had our hands full with Acheatel," Meusborn said.

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