2012-04-13 / Sports

Crunch time for local ballclubs

Marmonte League baseball midseason report
By Eliav Appelbaum

GOT POP—Simi Valley’s Austin Fields takes a cut in the cage. 
IRIS SMOOT/Acorn Newspapers GOT POP—Simi Valley’s Austin Fields takes a cut in the cage. IRIS SMOOT/Acorn Newspapers So much has happened in the first half of the Marmonte League baseball season.

And the plot of this epic drama is still unfurling.

Luke Eubank of Newbury Park High tossed two no-hitters.

Defending league champion Westlake is on the cusp of storming into the title race with nine freshmen, including starting pitcher Timmy Burtzloff.

Moorpark and Simi Valley are one winning streak away from turning everything that’s topsy-turvy upside down.

Royal, Calabasas and Thousand Oaks are dangerous spoilers who could sneak into the playoffs.

And Agoura has soared to first place with tough, smart studentathletes making one big play after another.

“That’s Marmonte League baseball,” Moorpark head coach Scott Fullerton said. “You play good teams all the way through.”

The Chargers (10-2-1 overall, 6-0 Marmonte) have won eight of their last nine games with good pitching, timely hitting, strong defense and a solid bench.

They are playing with an edge.

“We have a lot of fight in us right now,” Agoura head coach Mike Cordero said.

Jordan Shulman (3-0, 1.70 ERA) hits his spots well while throwing four pitches for strikes.

Andy Sondreaal, the Chargers’ No. 2 starting pitcher, is finding his groove after a rocky start.

Bryce Fehmel (.450 batting average, nine runs) has been a beast on offense, but Cordero has been more impressed with the freshman’s glove at the hot corner.

Mark Seyler, Justin Cana, Tyler Cohen, Preston Rosemont, Drew Lutzke, Albee Weiss and Henry Baker, among multiple Chargers, have played well.

“We’re just really focusing on getting better every day,” Cordero said. “We’re not letting the wins get to us.”

Newbury Park (10-2, 5-1) is riding Agoura’s bumper in second.

Eubank has been the Marmonte’s first-half MVP by a landslide.

The crafty senior righty is 5-0 with five complete games, a 0.60 ERA and, of course, the two no-hitters.

The Black Cat Attack isn’t a one-man show, however.

Colton Waltner (.395 BA, eight RBI), Taylor Zander (.343 BA, 10 runs, five doubles) and Daniel Barnett (.361 BA, two triples) are hotter than habanero peppers at the dish.

Westlake is always a threat to win when Nick Noack (2.14 ERA, 24 strikeouts, six walks in 36 innings) takes the hill.

Noack isn’t overpowering, but he has Greg Maddux-like command of the strike zone.

Following losses, Burtzloff has picked up the Warriors with strong showings in victories against Thousand Oaks and Calabasas.

The rookie is part of a youth movement that’s ready to go boom for the Warriors (6-6-1, 4-2).

“Age is nothing but a number here,” Westlake skipper Zach Miller said.

The Warriors are 5-1-1 on the road but have won only one of five home games.

Miller said he isn’t concerned.

“The wind blows in here some games at 25 miles per hour,” the coach said. “It’s a very tough place to play, ask any coach.

“We have to turn it around and get home wins. The wind is not going to change.”

Colin Yelich, Luke Dykstra, Kris Moore, Paul Cipriani and Matt Baynard are playing well for the Warriors.

Westlake swept Simi Valley during a home-and-home series at the end of March. The Pioneers (12-4, 3-3) have won five straight games since the sweep.

“We’ve gotten back on track,” head coach Matt La Belle said. “We’re talented enough to compete with anyone.

“It’s a long Marmonte League season. We’re not panicking.”

Led by staff ace Nick Vigo, the Pioneers boast an ERA under 2.00. Reece Schmidt, Spencer Dubaich and closer Cody Ramer have been throwing darts.

Ramer and Schmidt also rake the ball at the plate.

La Belle offered high praise for catcher Dylan Alexander.

“He’s the best around defensively anywhere,” the coach said of Alexander.

Moorpark (9-9, 2-4) has two ace pitchers in Jordan Guerrero and Sean Barry and a solid lineup that’s about to welcome back Gunnar Mazur, who broke his collarbone on March 1.

Mazur had a walk in a pinchhit plate appearance April 5 against Agoura. He will give the Musketeers another potent left-handed bat.

Guerrero and Austin Cole are the other starting left-handed hitters with pop.

“We’re very competitive,” head coach Scott Fullerton said.

“ We haven’t been able to close a couple games, but we’re competing for seven innings.”

Griffin Mazur and Taylor Ready have made big strides defensively at catcher, according to Fullerton.

Cole (16 runs, five triples, two home runs), Ready (.362 BA, 15 RBI), Blake Chiaramonte (.393 BA, 14 RBI) and Bradley Fullerton (.350 BA) swing mean sticks.

Although the Highlanders have struggled picking up victories, Royal has outscored its foes 73-60 in 13 outings.

The team hits for average (.311) and its pitching-by-committee staff does a commendable job (3.02 team ERA). The defense has struggled, however: Royal’s committed 31 errors so far.

Atherton Kniseley is mashing the ball. The senior infielder has a .368 batting average with 14 RBI, three doubles and two home runs.

Senior shortstop Jonah White leads the Highlanders with a .409 batting average. Nick Kinsman, Brett Zahorik and Zack Kosinski have also played well for Royal.

“The trend in the Marmonte is that there is no trend,” Fullerton said. “Every team in every game—they are all dangerous.”

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