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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | BASEBALL

Chatsworth Wins When Guntz Has Something Left

March 21, 2001|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

RESEDA — Joe Guntz is a left-handed pitcher, which helps explain his eccentric behavior. He becomes eerily calm when others are ready to panic.

"I got to make it close to scare the coach," he said Tuesday with a sly grin after Chatsworth High defeated Cleveland, 3-2, in its West Valley League opener at Cleveland.

Guntz (4-0) shut out Cleveland for six innings, then survived a nerve-racking seventh to help top-ranked Chatsworth (9-0) win its seventh consecutive road game.

Guntz, an All-City selection last season, has a 14-0 career record, but he's never come closer to defeat.

Byron Grubman (3-1) shut out the Chancellors until they pushed across two unearned runs in the sixth.

A dropped fly ball by right fielder Matt Gish keyed the inning. Ryan Barba's sacrifice fly with the bases loaded drove in one run and the other came home on a double steal.

Justin Cassel hit a run-scoring single in the seventh to make it 3-0.

Guntz, who threw 123 pitches, gave up consecutive doubles with one out in the seventh to Robert Marcial and Matt Jordan.

Nick Arroyo followed with a run-scoring single, his fourth hit.

Guntz struck out Andrew Strickland and got Grubman to ground out, ending the game.

Cleveland (7-2) had runners on base in six innings against Guntz, who didn't seem to mind that Coach Tom Meusborn had reliever Sean Richards warming up in the seventh.

"He warms him up just to scare me," Guntz said.

Guntz's high-wire act was typical for him. He struck out five, walked two and never lacked confidence when the Cavaliers had men in scoring position.

"He just bears down with guys on base and he's very comfortable," Meusborn said.

Added Cleveland Coach Joe Cascione: "He uses all his tools. He can throw three pitches for strikes and doesn't break down. He's got nerves of steel."

Cleveland committed five errors, including two dropped popups and the dropped fly ball.

"We had nine lives and used them up in the first three innings," Cascione said. "We played our worst game possible and still lost, 3-2. Byron pitched his heart out."

Brian Lee had three hits for Chatsworth.

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