By Steve Ramirez
South Hills and Covina are two of the better high school baseball teams in the area.
They are ranked in this newspaper’s weekly top 10 and good bets to win league titles.
But baseball can be quite difficult to understand sometimes, and Wednesday’s Gladstone Tournament championship game might be exhibit ‘A.’
Richard Rollice went 2 for 4 with four RBIs and Tyler France was solid on the mound as South Hills rolled to a 12-0 victory over Covina in a game at Gladstone High that was halted after five innings because of the 10-run rule.
The Huskies, who led 9-0 after two innings, improved to 12-4. Covina, which committed four errors, slipped to 12-7.
“We had a pretty poor pregame, a poor approach to the game, and I got angry at our kids,” South Hills coach Kevin Smith said. “I got on them pretty good, and they rebounded well. We had some pretty good approaches at home plate early in the game against a pretty good pitcher (James Comaroto).
“It was really nice to do what we did early.”
The Huskies, also getting two hits and an RBI from C.J. Saylor, scored four runs in the first inning and five in the second to put it away early.
The key moment came in the first inning after South Hills loaded the bases with two outs following back-to-back hits by Saylor and Tyler France and a walk to Jeff Moran.
Rollice then singled on a 3-2 pitch to score two runs. Covina left fielder Nick Simons over-ran the ball and Moran scored for a 3-0 lead. Rollice then scored on a passed ball for a 4-0 edge.
“That was huge,” Smith said. “If we come out with no runs, it’s a dogfight. But we got the clutch base hit and we get three runs to start off the game.”
It kind of snowballed against the Colts from there.
South Hills loaded the bases with one out before Michael Dlugos scored on a passed ball and France followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 6-0 lead. South Hills took a 9-0 lead on an RBI single by Moran and a two-run double by Rollice.
“You have to play defense if you want to win big ball games,” Covina coach Pete Loaiza said. “We made three errors in the first two innings that led to nine runs. You can’t do that against a team like South Hills. The game was over in the second inning.”
South Hills clinched it in the fifth taking a 12-0 lead on a passed ball that scored Rollice and RBIs by Martinez and Saylor.
France gave up two hits and struck out six in five innings.
“They’re one of our opponents who are are a rival,” Rollice said. “To come out and beat them, it means a lot. You take it as if it’s a league game. You want to go play them hard as it’s a CIF championship game. You want to go hard all the time.”