Expectations are always high when Chatsworth and Woodland Hills El Camino Real players put on a baseball uniform. The two schools have combined to win 16 City Section championships and produce a glittering group of major league players.
So it's going to be hard to explain what transpired Tuesday in a West Valley League opener in which the teams combined for seven errors, 11 walks, four hit batters and a sometimes chaotic play. The game ended when Nick Milone delivered a run-scoring single in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 10-9 Chatsworth victory.
Don't think for one minute the Chancellors (13-5) were going to get a pat on the back from Coach Tom Meusborn even though they were able to come back from a 9-2 deficit. The only question was how long practice might be Wednesday, after the Chancellors had three throwing errors on bunts and twice failed on bunt attempts.
And Meusborn might need to run a lap himself after El Camino Real Coach Josh Lienhard caught him making an illegal substitution in the seventh inning that resulted in an out and removing a runner from scoring position.
It was that type of a game in which two returning All-City pitchers, Chatsworth's Jason Karkenny and El Camino Real's Luke Laurita, each couldn't make it out of the fifth inning.
"It was pretty crazy, but our team stuck in there," Milone said. "Our team has heart and fights back."
El Camino Real (7-12) seemed in control with a 9-2 advantage going into the fifth. Tommy Derry had a two-run double. Yannick Villanueva had a two-run single and a run-scoring single.
But Laurita couldn't throw strikes in the fifth, and Chatsworth took advantage by scoring six runs, with Milone's bases-clearing triple the key hit.
Freshman Josh Garcia finally reestablished some stability on the mound for Chatsworth, throwing 21/3 innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win. Jerry Ismerio had three singles. And Milone was impressive in the clutch.
"Our team is a good team," Milone said. "We like to win. That's Chatsworth. We win."
But based on Tuesday's play, other teams in the West Valley League and the City Section might be encouraged.
Reseda Cleveland opened league play with a 10-0 win over Woodland Hills Taft that ended after five innings because of the 10-run rule. Jack Hartman struck out six and gave up three hits. Matt del Mundo was three for three. Lake Balboa Birmingham defeated Granada Hills, 5-3. Nick Schwartz was three for three and hit a three-run home run.