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LA North and LA South: Chaminade 13, Palos Verdes 5

5/19/2011

WEST HILLS -- The secret has been out for quite some time now.

The strength of the West Hills Chaminade baseball program is its formidable pitching staff, which boasts three prospects expected to make an immediate impact once they reach the next level.

Odds are, if the Eagles started to hit the ball a bit better, they would be particularly tough to defeat in the Southern Section playoffs.

Such was the case Thursday afternoon as seemingly everything came together for Chaminade. The offense scored runs in bunches against Palos Verdes, and aside from one uncharacteristic inning, the pitchers delivered another above-average performance as the host Eagles prevailed, 13-5, in a first-round game in Division II.

“We're a confident group, but we don't expect to walk through many teams, not in the playoffs,'' Eagles coach Frank Mutz said. “Our pitching is going to carry us, and if we do the little things, especially when we're up at the plate, I like our chances to make a run.''

Scoring five times in the bottom of the first inning, highlighted by a grand slam from Dylan Delaney, got things started in the right direction for Chaminade (19-7).

Turns out the ace of the staff, Mathew Troupe, did not need any more run support. The 6-foot-3 right-hander, a senior committed to Arizona, did a good job of keeping opposing batters off-balance the rest of the way and the Sea Kings (20-12) never recovered.

“We came into this game with a lot of confidence, and once we got the early lead, there was no turning back for us, we were not going to lose to them at home,'' said Troupe, who helped out his own cause when he hit a grand slam to help cap a five-run fourth inning.

Chaminade scored twice in the fifth and once in the sixth.

“I didn't want our kids to be intimidated by Chaminade's pitchers, the information they had was on a need-to-know basis,” Palos Verdes coach Evan Fujinaga said. “We didn't want to have a no-hitter tossed against us, then have to get on the bus and head home.''

With a new-found resolve at the plate, all signs point to the Eagles being capable of making some noise in the playoffs, especially with a loaded pitching staff.

The next step on the road to a potential appearance in the finals June 2 at Dodger Stadium is the Garden Grove Pacifica/Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos winner in a second-round game Tuesday afternoon. Good thing is, Michael Dingilian will get the start for the Eagles. On any other team, the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo-bound senior would probably be the ace of the staff.

“If we can get four runs a game, we think we can beat just about anyone,'' Dingilian said. “Today was crazy, we put hits together and scored runs, that's going to give us some confidence and help out in the long run. Give the pitchers a lead, we'll take care of the rest.''

Dalton Brown figures to be available for Chaminade thereafter and the senior, heading to Duke, could end up facing second-seeded Arcadia or third-seeded Redlands. On the other half of the bracket, top-seeded Cypress looms as a possible opponent in the title game.

“That team has so many great arms, it's crazy,'' Fujinaga said.

Apparently, Chaminade has the bats as well.

Thursday's game was a good indication of that.

Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.