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Mid-Week Prep Report

by Alan Matthews
March 16, 2005

Chancellors Reign Finally Ends

One of high school baseball's most celebrated winning streaks came to an end last weekend when Chatsworth (Calif.) High dropped a 4-3 decision to Hart High of Newhall, Calif.

Chatsworth had won a California record 54 consecutive games, dating back to April 2003. They are the only team to finish No. 1 in the Baseball America/National High School Baseball Coaches Association poll in consecutive years (2003 and 2004).

"I told the guys before the game that we had a chance to do something you can forever remember," Hart coach Jim Ozella said. "We have the opportunity to step forward and see what you're made of."

Hart scored twice in the third inning, keyed by a pair of triples, and twice again in the fifth to claim a 4-1 lead. Chatsworth sophomore shortstop Mike Moustakas homered in the seventh to cut the lead to 4-3 before sophomore righthander Donnie Williams nailed the door and snapped the Chancellors' streak.

"We got beat," Chatsworth coach Tom Meusborn told the Los Angeles Times. "It's that simple. It's over. It was nice, but we knew it wouldn't last forever.

"Fifty-four obviously is something that's never happened before, so it's special to be a part of it. With as many outstanding teams as there are in the valley and Southern California, you just don't do what we did. It was special."

Chatsworth was ranked No. 9 in the BA/NHSBCA poll entering the game and dropped to 4-1 on the season.

Hart (4-0-1) leadoff hitter Matt Valaika, a junior shortstop and brother of current UC Santa Barbara sophomore shortstop Chris Valaika, went 3-for-4 with a double, triple and stolen base for the Indians.

The win gave Hart the title in the inaugural Easton Southern California Showdown at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium, capping a weekend that included a 9-1 victory over El Camino Real of Woodland Hills, Calif.

Where Are The Wheels?

Approximately 40 scouts arrived at Long Beach Poly High's doubleheader Monday in anticipation of getting a look at Poly senior outfielder DeSean Jackson.

However, Jackson, who was benched earlier in the season for missing practice, failed to show for the game.

"I'm not hurt. I just had to take care of some family business," said Jackson, who also said he was back at practice Tuesday. "Everything is all right. I just couldn't make it."

Jackson was rated as the nation's No. 47 high school prospect entering the season. A two-sport star who has committed to California to play football and baseball, he is considered the best all-around athlete in this year's high school draft class.

Hes also the latest in a long line of talented athletes at Poly High, which has produced future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, Dodgers outfielder Milton Bradley and New England Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest, to name a few of its more notable recent alumni.

Poly High coach Bill Rowell said he discussed Jackson's attendance and work ethic with the 5-foot-11, 170-pound burner. He said he "wasn't going to give anyone special treatment. All I said is I want him to be on time and work."

Jackson is 0-for-9, playing in just two of Poly's first seven games.

AROUND THE NATION

Bryant (Ark.) High suffered another tough road loss last weekend. In their fourth game against an out-of-state opponent, the Hornets fell 8-7 to Union High of Tulsa, Okla., in a game played on the Arkansas-Fort Smith campus. Bryant, ranked No. 40 in the preseason poll, is now just 8-4, with all of the losses coming to teams from outside of Arkansas. "We're trying to make sure we're playing good people all year long and get us used to traveling a little bit, because our state playoffs are held almost three hours away," coach Terry Harper said. Bryant senior lefty Travis Wood didn't have his best control against Union, walking six after walking only one in his previous 12 innings. Wood, who has committed to Arkansas, was 2-0 with 39 strikeouts in 17 innings.

Teams in Texas were getting better acquainted with their neighbors as conference and district play began for many Houston-area teams Tuesday. Spring High used a pair of fifth-inning triples and a squeeze bunt to pick up a road win over West Brook High of Beaumont. Spring senior outfielder Daryl Jones sparked a comeback with a triple and scored the go-ahead run on a successful squeeze. Jones is a toolsy lefthanded hitter ranked No. 95 among high school prospects in the 2005 class. Just down the road in Houston two of the nation's top junior prospects were spinning gems from the hill. Cypress Falls junior righthander Ryan Jenkins struck out 10 in a two-hit shutout of Cypress Springs in the 2-0 final. Junior righthander Kyle Drabek led No. 5 The Woodlands High to a 6-2 win over Klein Collins. Drabek punched out 14 over six innings. The Woodlands (12-1) was relieved to begin district play, after playing eight games during a recent nine-day stretch.

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