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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Geery Keeps Kennedy in the Hunt

Valley Mission baseball: Junior makes big plays and Golden Cougars prevent San Fernando from clinching league title, 8-7.

April 24, 2001|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN FERNANDO — Another team dared Adam Geery of Kennedy High to beat them Monday, with familiar results.

San Fernando ended up kicking the dirt in disgust.

Kennedy prevented the host Tigers from wrapping up the Valley Mission League championship with an 8-7 victory behind the play of Geery, an All-City pitcher-third baseman who thrives in pressure situations.

Geery, a junior, broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning with a two-run double.

Then, in the most audacious decision of the game, he stole home on a 1-0 count, getting his hand on home plate just before the tag of catcher Aldo Montalvan.

Still, San Fernando (19-5, 8-1 in league play) wasn't impressed. The Tigers scored five runs in the seventh inning and had the tying run on first base with two out. Geery was moved from third to catcher when catcher Phil Avlas took the mound in relief.

Geery was quarterback for Kennedy's football team but had little experience at catcher. The Tigers decided to test his arm.

Jess Moreno tried to steal second, but Geery threw him out to end the game and help Kennedy (15-9, 7-2) move within a game of first place. The teams meet again Wednesday at Kennedy.

"I told Coach [Manny] Alvarado to stick me behind the plate," Geery said. "I wanted that situation. I felt I was pumped up for this."

A month ago, Kennedy was considered the favorite to win the league title. Injuries to pitchers, combined with poor fielding and erratic hitting, produced a slump that culminated in four consecutive losses during an Easter break tournament in Las Vegas.

"We just didn't know what to do," pitcher Danny Mata said. "That was the lowest point. We had a couple of meetings."

Mata (1-1) came through with a clutch pitching performance Monday. He no-hit San Fernando for 3 1/3 innings and left in the seventh with an 8-3 lead.

Kennedy scored five runs in the fifth, all with two out. Tim St. Pierre ignited the rally with a double. He also contributed a triple.

Moreno (5-2) struggled with control, throwing five wild pitches, walking three and hitting a batter.

The intensity of the game was highlighted in the fifth when coaches from both teams had to be separated after Kennedy accused Moreno of trying to hit Mata.

"It's always a rivalry and got heated a little bit," Tiger Coach Armando Gomez said.

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