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Cougars win battle of alumni

Posted: May 10, 2008 2:44 a.m.
Updated: July 11, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Two years removed from squaring off in the Foothill League, Caleb Deville and Colby Hyatt are it again, this time on the junior college level.

Deville a former Valencia star outdueled Hyatt, a Hart grad, pitching a complete game shutout for College of the Canyons in a 4-0 playoff win over Cypress College at Cougars field Friday afternoon.

Deville, made short work of Cypress, cruising to his 10th win of the season and the first shutout of the year for COC in just 2:10.

"It's nice, we've been waiting a while," said Deville who spent a semester at the Master's College before transferring to COC. "We've been close a couple of times but haven't quite gotten it."

He struck out six, walked none, and gave up just four hits, while facing three batters more than the minimum and leading the No. 8 seeded Cougars (30-11, 23-5) to a 1-0 lead in the best of three series against the No. 9 seeded Chargers (27-17). And he's not even the No. 1 starter. Sophomore southpaw Mike McCravey has been out with an elbow injury and COC coach Chris Cota doesn't not expect him to pitch again this season.

Insert Deville, who sported a 2.68 ERA coming in and had already pitched a complete game three times this season, and the Cougars shut down a Cypress lineup that led the Orange Empire Conference in hitting this season.

"He's pitched well all year and really stepped up for the game today," Cota said.

Deville's biggest strength was his control. He rarely fell behind, letting his defense make the plays behind him, and snagging a few comebackers to the mound as well.

"I felt good," Deville said. "Threw a lot of strikes, got ahead of a lot of batters. It's kind of easy when you work ahead, easier at least."

In support of Deville, Western State Conference Player of the Year Brian Hernandez went 2-for-4 with an RBI double in the third inning, and third baseman Kyle Harris hit a two run homer to left field in the eighth inning for some insurance, making the score 4-0.

"My first at bat he threw me a curveball and he kept throwing me off speed and I just kept sitting on it," Harris said.
When he got another one, Harris hit his third jack of the season.

Hernandez, a second baseman led eight COC players on the conference first team, setting school records for hits and doubles along the way.

I'm just trying to stay within and not trying to do too much," said Hernandez who transferred from Cal State Los Angeles. "There's a lot of good guys on this team so I have no pressure to do anything."

Deville's counterpart Hyatt had his control also. He threw a complete game, striking out four and giving up four runs on eight hits but that effort wasn't enough for the Cypress.

Late in the season, COC faced a bigger obstacle than an opposing right hander, in the form of injuries. In addition to McCravey and pitcher China McCarney, catcher Luis Perez and outfielder John Hay battled health problems and COC lost three of their final regular season games. Hay and Perez were both in the lineup Friday. Perez, who hadn't played in two weeks went 2-for-3.

The key according to Hernandez has been team camaraderie.

"We see each other on the field four, five hours a day and we still go hang out together and everybody's cool...(it's helped) big time," he said. "The team that always stays together is going to go a lot farther."

The last time COC won the state championship was in 1986. Cota, in his eighth season as the head coach, was then the star. Deville said Cota talks to the team about what it takes to get back there, but Cota won't get ahead of himself.

The Cougars face Cypress again today at 11 a.m. with former Saugus pitcher Kody Kurowski taking the hill. If they lose, they'll play the rubber match thirty minutes after the first game. With a win, COC will advance to the Regional Tournament, which will be hosted by the top two remaining seeds.

Asked how far COC could go, Cota smiled and said, "We're gonna go to (today) and see what happens."


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