Battle for first rages on between Camarillo, Oxnard

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Camarillo High senior shortstop Robert Ortiz, left, fires to first for an out during Tuesday’s 7-2 ACHS win at Oxnard. Ortiz had a big day at the plate, collecting four hits and four RBI.
Camarillo High senior shortstop Robert Ortiz, left, fires to first for an out during Tuesday’s 7-2 ACHS win at Oxnard. Ortiz had a big day at the plate, collecting four hits and four RBI. © Richard Gillard/Acorn Newspapers
Rain, rain stay away. There’s another big ballgame to play.Weather permitting, sole possession of first place in the Pacific View League baseball standings will be on the line today when the Camarillo High Scorpions play host to the Oxnard Yellowjackets at 3:15 p.m.

On Tuesday at Oxnard, Camarillo defeated the Yellowjackets 7-2 behind a complete game, 10-strikeout performance from senior southpaw Hunter Virant.

The Scorpions improved to 8-6 overall, 6-1 in PVL play.

Oxnard fell to 14-4, 6-1 in league while having its 11-game winning streak snapped.

ACHS head coach Richard Jaquez confirmed after the victory that senior right- hander Justin Chamberlain will start on the mound for Camarillo in the second game of this home-andhome series.

Chamberlain enters the contest with a 3-3 record and 3.75 earnedrun average.

“He just needs to be consistent as far as what he’s done in his last three or four outings,” Jaquez said of Chamberlain. “He’s really starting to pitch well by throwing strikes and getting his curveball over. He’s starting to make it tough on other teams’ offenses.”

With about two dozen scouts eyeballing his every move on Tuesday, Virant worked in and out of jams all afternoon.

Oxnard batters logged nine hits and drew a walk off the 6-foot-3 lefty but were unable to deliver a clutch, game-changing blow when given the opportunity.

“There’s a little more energy going into big games like this,” Virant said. “I knew I had to make a good pitch every time. These guys can hit. One through nine, they’re going to make contact.

“This game meant a lot since we were behind in the league standings. To come out and beat Oxnard and put ourselves in a tie for first place was really, really huge.”

Virant said he would talk with Chamberlain a little bit about how to attack the Oxnard hitters.

“We kind of have different pitching styles,” he said. “But I’ll let him know where to pitch certain batters. I expect that most of the time he’ll go with what his gut instinct is.”

Prior to Tuesday’s showdown, Oxnard had a streak of five consecutive shutouts, although against somewhat suspect competition (Pacifica, Duarte, LACES, West Adams Prep and Big Bear).

Trailing 1- 0 in the top of the third inning, Virant lifted a sacrifice fly to score senior shortstop Robert Ortiz and snap the Yellowjackets’ shutout streak at 34 consecutive innings.

ACHS took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on a single by Ortiz, but Oxnard tied the contest in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI double by junior right fielder Jeremy Alvarado.

Scorpion junior first baseman Connor Clark delivered what ended up being the game-winning RBI in the sixth on a single to left that plated pinch runner Andrew Bautista.

“Right there I’m just trying to hit it through the infield, just trying to hit it hard, make contact and score that run,” said Clark of his sixth-inning at-bat.

“It was pretty big for me and my team.”

Camarillo opened the flood gates in the seventh inning.

Clark singled home another run to stake the Scorpions to a 4-2 lead. Ortiz then put the game on ice with a bases-clearing three- RBI double to make it 7-2 ACHS.

“That was the breaking point right there,” Ortiz said. “I felt pretty good about it.”

Ortiz, a transfer from Washington who didn’t play his first game of the season until March 16 while gaining eligibility, finished 4-for-4 at the plate with four RBI, a walk, a run scored and a stolen base.

He said the plan was to be aggressive at the dish.

“I don’t like seeing pitches go by,” Ortiz said. “They were throwing some good pitches soft away, so I had to go with those ones. But they finally came inside on me one time and that was the double. . . .

“We needed to put these guys down and start our own win streak.”

Clark finished 3-for-4 with two RBI. Junior third baseman Michael Volaski and Chamberlain each logged a pair of hits.

Camarillo has won five of its last six ballgames. The Scorpions are averaging more than seven runs per contest during that span.

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