By Matt Schwab
The Liberty High baseball team followed a time-honored formula in a 5-1 win over visiting Deer Valley on Thursday in the Bay Valley Athletic League.
The emerging Lions (11-5, 2-0 BVAL) upended the defending league champions with clutch hitting, good defense and exemplary pitching by senior Mitchell Zamora.
Zamora did a little bit of everything.
He fired a five-hitter with five strikeouts and no walks, and was 2 for 4 with an RBI single in the fifth inning that brought in Johnny Hemenes and upped the lead to four. Zamora even made a nice grab on a hard-hit grounder in the fourth to start a 1-6-3 double play.
"That guy might be the best pitcher in the league," said Deer Valley coach Dan Peters, whose team (9-7, 0-2) absorbed its fifth straight loss. "He throws strikes, has a little zip; locates it. He has a good breaking ball, was able to keep it down."
Liberty coach Seth Wheelock said Zamora has been "fantastic" in all aspects for the last month.
"It was really good," Zamora said of the team effort. "Everyone just stuck together. I'm very glad about what we're putting up here, especially against a team like Deer Valley. They're a very good team, and we never stopped since the first inning."
The Lions took advantage of Deer Valley mistakes. Derain Goins blasted a two-run triple in the second inning after Tristan Prybylinski and Bryan Reid reached on back-to-back infield errors. Cody Luther followed with an RBI groundout.
In the fifth, Hemenes wound up on third after the ball was misplayed in left field on his one-out single. Zamora followed with a seeing-eye single to right on tailing outside fastball.
The Lions led 1-0 in the first on an RBI groundout to the right side by Jason Fackrell, scoring leadoff Tyler Gormley, who walked.
Wheelock has seen his program show steady improvement. Liberty finished 7-17 in 2011, and then was 12-12 last year.
Today, the Lions are in contention and capable of knocking off a perennial power in Deer Valley.
"Just trying to change the culture," Wheelock said. "We try to get the kids to understand that it wasn't about how good how they were or how good they played on a given day, it was about the work they were willing to put in."
Wheelock said he tries to "practice fast" and simulate game situations.
Peters said the Wolverines started the season 7-0 and peaked out, and "we've had some issues since then. Team-unity-type issues. Our chemistry has blown up."
Deer Valley rallied to tie it 1-1 in the top of the second, when sophomore Ricky Pato singled and scored on an error.
After guiding the Deer Valley High boys basketball team to its best season in school history, coach LeChet Phillips is out of a job.
Phillips, an off-campus coach, learned this week that he and associate head coach Pat Saindon were not retained for another year.
"The official reason is they decided to go in a different direction," Phillips said. "(The administration) felt we weren't leading the program the way they wanted. There were parental complaints."
Phillips was placed on administrative leave for three games in February while the district investigated an incident he was involved in at a freshman basketball game. A fight broke out in the crowd, and Phillips said he stepped in to defend his wife.
Phillips was eventually cleared and returned to the Wolverines' bench in time for their section and regional playoff runs.
"I was exonerated but they brought that up in the meeting," Phillips said.
Co-athletic director Scott Allen confirmed that Phillips' contract had not been renewed, but said he couldn't provide further details.
"It was a personnel decision of which I'm not at a pay grade to discuss," Allen said.
Deer Valley principal Ken Gardner couldn't be reached for comment.
Phillips, an off-campus coach, had been with the Deer Valley program for five years and served as the varsity head coach for the past three years, compiling a record of 69-22 and winning at least a share of the Bay Valley Athletic League each season. This past year, the Wolverines won their first North Coast Section Division I championship and advanced as far as the Division I Northern California regional title game.
"My coaches did an excellent job and took Deer Valley where it had never been before," Phillips said. "Apparently that wasn't appreciated."
Deer Valley produced two Division I players this year in center Marcus Lee (Kentucky) and point guard Kendall Smith (UNLV).
-- Stephanie Hammon
Monte Vista d. De La Salle: The host Mustangs improved its chances for a spot in the North Coast Section Division I playoffs with a 20-25, 25-15, 25-20, 25-21 East Bay Athletic League win over the Spartans.
De La Salle (6-10, 4-6 EBAL), the two-time defending section champion, has now lost three straight matches. To qualify for the playoffs, the Spartans need to have at least a .500 record overall, in its own league or against other Division I teams. They have four league games left and will play in the Northgate Tournament on April 27.
Monte Vista (11-9, 4-5 EBAL) let an early lead get away in game one, but rolled in game two and turned the corner in the pivotal third game.
"This win makes us a lot more confident going forward," Monte Vista coach Cory Whelchel said. "We finally have our lineup set to be in a position to do what we need to do. We had the players, now we have the right mix."
In the fourth game, the Mustangs built an 11-2 lead and held off De La Salle's ferocious comeback attempt.
Monte Vista was led by Blake Nichols' 10 kills and Ryan Peterson's 26 assists. De La Salle's Alex Long and Nick Hernandez combined for 19 kills.
-- Matt Smith, correspondent
Livermore 7, Carondelet 0: Senior Ashley Weiler pitched a perfect game, striking out 14, in an EBAL win. The senior nearly missed her start because of the flu, but got into a groove once the game started and retired all 21 batters she faced.
-- Stephanie Hammon