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Indians pummel Warriors

Posted: May 16, 2008 2:09 a.m.
Updated: July 17, 2008 5:01 a.m.

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The radar guns were in place. Most of the teams in the Major Leagues were represented, including the Arizona Diamondbacks with general manager Josh Byrnes. It was the first round of the CIF Division I playoffs. And the first batter at the plate had the last name Dykstra. No pressure Michael Montgomery.

No problem. Montgomery threw five innings, gave up one run and struck out seven as Hart topped Westlake 5-1 to advance to round two.

"I've geared myself to know what to expect," Montgomery said.

"I don't want to change because there are some guys with guns in the stands."

Cool and collected, Montgomery was most impressive in the fourth inning after he got into a tight jam. As his control waned slightly, he walked two and hit a batter to load the bases as Hart held on to a 1-0 lead. Down 3-1 in the count to Westlake shortstop Joshua Gray, he reared back and got the strikeout he needed.

"I thought, OK, I can't walk this guy," Montgomery said.

The next batter, Max Winseberg, layed down a suicide squeeze and Montgomery tagged him out as the run scored.

Then, he struck out Casey Rhoades to end the inning. Crisis averted.

"That's a huge momentum swing," Montgomery said.

In the bottom of the inning, the Indians scored two runs, the first on an RBI double by senior Jenzen Torres knocking starter Graham Johnson out of the game, and the second on a wild pitch by reliever Alex Gillingham allowing Trevor Brown to score.

Hart would add two more runs in the bottom of the sixth to make it 5-1. Leadoff man Spencer Moniz, who was 2-for-2 with a walk, put down a suicide squeeze of his own, and Torres, who's been batting eighth slid under the tag. Later in the inning, Devin Rodriguez knocked in a run with an RBI single.

Torres, who has continued his hot hitting from down in the lineup, was 1-for-2 with a double, an RBI, a run scored, and a hit by pitch. Hart coach Jim Ozella called Torres's eighth slot the double cleanup spot.

Along with the depth of his lineup, Ozella was excited about the little things Hart did well in their first postseason game. The defense behind Montgomery was solid. Hit and runs worked. The Indians were aggressive on the base paths, swiping several bags. Moniz's suicide squeeze may have stopped a few hearts, but the end result was a run.

"I was way pumped about the way we executed," Ozella said.

In addition to excitement, there was also a sense of relief. Westlake (15-13) finished fourth in a tough Marmonte League and had Cutter Dykstra, the son of former Major League All Star Lenny Dykstra leading off. The Warriors were part of a tough draw that also includes Canyon Springs, Hart's next opponent.

"The first one is always the toughest one," Ozella said.

Dykstra went 2-for-3 with two singles off Montgomery, but Montgomery picked him off first base in the third inning.

For the most part, Montgomery held down the rest of the lineup. Westlake's sophomore slugger Christian Yelich went 0-for-2 with a walk. With two on and two out in the top of the fifth and Hart leading 3-1, Montgomery sent Yelich down swinging.

Junior Trevor Bauer slid right in for Montgomery in the sixth inning and retired all six batters he faced, including strike outs of the first two batters in the seventh inning.

"They were locked in," Ozella said of his two pitchers.

As Hart locks in on its next game on Tuesday, Torres likes the way his team looks in the future.

"I think we've been playing our best baseball," he said. "It's perfect timing for us."

With the MLB draft just a few weeks away, the future has crossed Montgomery's mind too. He wants to play at Dodger Stadium. But not as a Major Leaguer just yet.

"Hopefully we end at Dodger Stadium," Montgomery said.

In the CIF championship game.

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