High Heat: May 15

For two days in April, Southern California was the site of the season’s most eventful, intense high school action.

Chatsworth High and El Camino Real High, schools five minutes apart about a half-hour north of downtown Los Angeles, have long been rivals, but with both teams ranked nationally and loaded with college and professional prospects, their annual Tuesday-Thursday home-and-home series offered plenty of memorable moments.

“It’s always big, but it’s pretty high-profile now,” said Matt LaCour, who took over as head coach at El Camino Real in 2001 after playing at Chatsworth and later coaching there as an assistant under Tom Meusborn. “The teams have always been solid and always sent a lot of guys to college, but the talent level this year between the two teams is definitely a little bit of a step up.

“For all those people there, it had to be a lot of fun to watch.”

With more than a dozen scouts and several hundred fans on hand, the second game of the series went from entertaining to dramatic in the late innings. After making his high school pitching debut in emergency relief, Chatsworth junior third baseman Matt Dominguez, one of the top hitters in the high school class of 2007, delivered an eighth-inning grand slam to cap a four-hour, 15-minute affair.

Chatsworth’s 9-5 victory came after El Camino Real (19-4) scored three runs in the seventh to take a 5-4 lead. El Camino Real senior righthander Eric Pettis, a UC Irvine signee who was the winning pitcher in the Conquistadores’ 4-1 win against Chatsworth two days earlier, came through with a two-out, two-run double before UCLA-bound senior outfielder Gabe Cohen followed with a go-ahead single.

Dominguez came in to get the final out in the seventh, scored the tying run in the bottom of the inning and then threw a scoreless eighth. As darkness began to set in, Dominguez drilled a 2-0 pitch over the left-field fence off senior righthander Shaun Kort, a Nevada signee, with the bases loaded and one out.

Chatsworth (22-2) nearly won it in the seventh on the single that scored Dominguez, but Cohen cut down senior outfielder Oliver Padre with a pinpoint throw from right field to force extra innings.

Padre was ejected for taking out catcher Brenden Tobyansen, who lost consciousness briefly and was taken to a hospital, delaying the game more than 20 minutes. Tobyansen sustained a concussion and broke a rib in the collision.

“It was a good one, yeah,” said LaCour, who said Tobyansen could miss two weeks. “That was one of the bad things that came out of that series. Everything else was good. Exactly what we expect from the rivalry . . . It left a sour taste in our mouths.”

Chatsworth, ranked No. 8 in the Baseball America/National High School Coaches Association Top 50, and No. 17 El Camino Real were tied for first in the West Valley League with a third regular season matchup slated for early May in Woodland Hills. The two schools could meet a fourth time at Dodger Stadium in the California Interscholastic Federation Division-I City Section championship game on May 27. California does not have a state baseball tournament, but the City Section playoffs feature 16 teams–eight conference champions and eight at-large clubs–so both teams are almost assured of getting into the tournament.

El Camino Real defeated Chatsworth 5-1 for the city title a year ago, and the longtime rivals could meet for yet another encore.


• De La Salle High of Concord, Calif., got off to a disappointing 4-4 start and slipped out of the BA/NHSBCA poll, but then won eight consecutive games, including an impressive performance to win the Phil Nevin National Classic at Cal State Fullerton. The Spartans defeated Anaheim’s Esperanza High 7-3 in the championship game of the 16-team event that featured schools from four states. De La Salle senior lefthander Clayton Tanner, who committed to Pepperdine, was the tournament’s outstanding pitcher while senior John Aliotti, a Saint Mary’s signee, was the MVP. Esperanza handed No. 13 Palm Beach Central High (Wellington, Fla.) its lone loss of the season in the second round.

• Ooltewah (Tenn.) High senior lefthander/outfielder Kyler Burke was putting a fitting finish on his prep career. He was fifth all-time on the Tennessee single-season home run chart while batting .511-19-54 in 92 at-bats. The Vanderbilt signee was 6-0, 1.85 with 61 strikeouts and 21 walks in 34 innings on the mound. “Where does he play, that’s the million-dollar question,” said a scout with a National League organization. “He’s been 88-90, with a decent breaking ball, just lights out on the mound and wearing it out at the plate.”

• Midland (Mich.) High senior righthander Kurtis Frymier tossed a no-hitter and went 3-for-3 at the plate in a 7-0 win over Frankenmuth (Mich.) High in the Corunna Baseball Invitational. Frymier fanned 15 batters with a walk, carrying a perfect game into the sixth inning.