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Casanova's Pitching Puts Canyon in Final

June 04, 2003|Eric Sondheimer; Mike Bresnahan; Dan Arritt; Steve Galluzzo | From Staff Reports

Smiling after strikeouts and walking with a confident swagger between innings, junior right-hander Nick Casanova of Anaheim Canyon left no doubt Tuesday that he was enjoying himself in the most important game of his high school career.

Armed with a devastating curveball that was unhittable at times, Casanova struck out 11, walked one and allowed five hits in a 5-0 Southern Section Division II semifinal victory over defending champion Villa Park at Villa Park.

"That's the best my curveball has been," said Casanova (10-1), who has been overshowed by senior ace Vinnie Pestano (9-2). "I was really pumped. My arm felt great. I had total control."

No. 2-seeded Canyon (23-5), which beat Century League rival Villa Park (21-9) for the third time in four games, jumped on losing pitcher Steve Johns with three runs in the first inning, highlighted by a two-run homer from Garett Green. A two-run single in the third inning by Matt Morris sent Johns to the sideline. Mark Trumbo came in and threw five shutout innings of relief.

But the Spartans were never able to solve Casanova's curveball. In the second inning, they loaded the bases with none out. Then Casanova went to work, striking out the next two batters on called third strikes, both curveballs. He got the final batter to ground out.

"It totally fools hitters completely," catcher Chris Morinello said of Casanova's curveball.

Coach Joe Hoggatt will have a well-rested Pestano pitching Saturday at Edison Field in the 4:30 p.m. Division II final against Thousand Oaks.

"We have two No. 1s and [Casanova] stepped up today," Hoggatt said. "I'm very proud of him."

-- Eric Sondheimer

Thousand Oaks 6, Valencia 2 -- The Lancers, 10-14 and out of the playoffs a year ago, advanced to their first baseball championship game by winning a Division II semifinal at Valencia.

Brad Peters had three hits, including a two-run homer in the sixth inning, and Jeremy Megorden's two-run double provided all the offense needed for Thousand Oaks (24-6).

"It's nice to fly underneath the radar and end up going to the championship," said Coach Rod Stillwell, in only his second season as head coach at Thousand Oaks. "People have talked about polls and rankings, but all we care about are our rankings at the end of the season."

In his first relief appearance of the season, Bret Montgomery (10-2) pitched four shutout innings, striking out five and allowing only three hits.

Valencia (23-7) led, 1-0, after Matt Aidem, who had two hits, drove in Danny Worth in the second inning, but the Vikings stranded 10 runners in the first four innings and 13 in the game.

-- Mike Bresnahan

Moreno Valley Valley View 3, Santa Margarita 0 -- In only his fourth start this season, Daniel Hawkins threw a five-hitter in a Division I semifinal at Blair Field in Long Beach.

Hawkins, a senior right-hander, pitched out of jams in the first and fourth innings, then held Santa Margarita hitless over the final three innings. Relying on a cut fastball about 85% of the time, Hawkins (4-0) struck out two and walked two.

Hawkins induced Santa Margarita's leading hitter, Doug Reinhardt, to hit into a double play in the first, then got out of the inning when cleanup hitter David Huffman softly lined out to second.

In the fourth, Reinhardt and Huffman led off with singles, but Hawkins escaped the inning with back-to-back fly outs and a strikeout.

Valley View will play Huntington Beach Marina at 7 p.m. Saturday at Edison Field in the final.

Huntington Beach Marina 5, Riverside Arlington 3 -- Adam Rodriguez hit a two-run double in the top of the eighth inning to lift the Vikings to their first section final since 1990 with the victory at Blair Field.

Arlington was hurt by three errors and mental mistakes that allowed Marina to bounce back from a 3-1 deficit. Marina took a 1-0 lead on a double steal in the second inning and scored an unearned run in the fifth to tie the score, 3-3.

Marina third baseman Daric Barton doubled in the tying run when Arlington elected to pitch to him with two out and a runner on third. Barton's single in the eighth put runners on first and third with none out to set up Rodriguez's two-out double.

-- Dan Arritt

Westminster La Quinta 6, Lompoc Cabrillo 2 -- Cole Garner hit a two-run homer, a section-record 42nd of his career, for host Westminster La Quinta, which earned its 14th consecutive victory and advanced to the Division IV championship game for a second season in a row.

Brian Wason (13-0) gave up five hits, with eight strikeouts and two walks, in five innings. Ian Stewart, who has 40 career homers, doubled and scored in the second inning for the top-seeded Aztecs (29-2), who will meet second-seeded Garden Grove Pacifica in the final Saturday. La Quinta beat Pacifica by scores of 8-1 and 4-0 in Garden Grove League play.

Tommy Hawk allowed two hits and one unearned run with five strikeouts in three innings of relief for Cabrillo (22-7).

-- Steve Galluzzo

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