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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Geery, Moore Employ Buddy System

Kennedy High pitchers, teammates since childhood, are chasing another City title.

February 25, 2001|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GRANADA HILLS — Life is full of inexplicable happenings, and one of those mysterious moments occurred in June at Dodger Stadium in the City Championship game.

Not even an episode of the "The X-Files" could come up with the scenario of Eric Moore and Adam Geery, best friends since playing in the same T-ball league as 4- and 5-year-olds, getting the chance to live out their ultimate baseball fantasies as sophomores in high school.

Moore delivered the game-winning two-out, two-run triple in the seventh inning and Geery threw the complete-game victory to lift Kennedy High past El Camino Real, 4-2.

Moore was selected the game's most valuable player and Geery was the tournament's MVP, all coming 11 years from the day the two launched their careers together at West Valley Little League.

"On that last pitch, me and him must have hugged through the whole pile," Geery said. "We were so happy together. We sat down and started crying. We dreamed about this when we were little. It was like our World Series."

It was a moment of extreme pressure, and each revealed plenty about themselves by the calm, confident manner in which they performed.

Moore and Geery are hoping to use the lessons learned from their Dodger Stadium experience to help Kennedy repeat as City champions this season.

"It was probably the best baseball experience I've had in my life," Moore said. "I still think about it a lot. It runs through my head over and over."

Moore didn't know he was going to start until the day of the City final. He had been promoted from junior varsity late in the season. His strength was pitching, but Kennedy didn't need his left arm. He was used as a designated hitter.

"He was a puppy," Coach Manny Alvarado said. "He was big-eyed and pretty surprised."

He came up in the top of the seventh inning in a 2-2 tie and hit a two-run triple to the wall in left-center field.

"All through the years, everyone always talks about those situations, that game-ending experience, and I had never been in one," Moore said. "It all comes down to one pitch. When I was in the dugout, I was thinking about it. All I was trying to do was focus and stay calm. We've been taught that way all our lives."

The two always played in the same youth leagues. Even when they moved as 9- and 10-year-olds, they somehow ended up living in the same area and playing on the same team. When it came to high school, both were certain they didn't want to play apart.

"We weren't going to go into high school without one another," Geery said. "We didn't want to play against each other because we want to win so bad."

Geery had far more high school experience than Moore. He had been playing varsity since his freshman year. He sent Kennedy to Dodger Stadium with a three-hitter against Banning in the semifinals. He was known for having "ice water in his veins."

"You're constantly challenging your players, 'Who wants the ball?' " Alvarado said. "[Adam] is the first guy to jump out of his chair, 'Me, me, me.' "

Geery struck out seven, walked none and ended the championship game by dropping to his knees and pointing to the sky to honor his late father.

Moore's success at Dodger Stadium provided a boost of confidence that can be seen on the mound today. During the summer and winter, he became Kennedy's most successful pitcher, using a curveball so nasty that lefties are usually left standing at the plate with a helpless feeling.

"He's developed into one of the greatest players in the Valley," Geery said. "He's going to come out there and shock a lot of people. I look at this guy how he's matured. I just smile at him all the time."

Playing at Dodger Stadium can be overwhelming to some, but Moore and Geery saw it as a unique classroom experience.

"It taught me how important it is to calm down and do what you have to do," Moore said. "When you're in that moment, you think what everyone has said to you through the years and it all makes sense."

Said Geery: "Once you get the taste of stepping onto the field, you want to go back. You feel all the energy, the crowd . . . it's the greatest feeling you've ever had."

Moore is looking forward to the challenge of being a defending City champion.

"I want teams to want us," he said. "I want them to pitch their best pitcher. I want teams to be out to get us. I want to see everyone's aces."

He's not being cocky--just confident. That's the magic of Dodger Stadium when you've played on its hallow grounds and triumphed as a 15-year-old.

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