By Steve Ramirez
Chino Hills didn’t clinch the Sierra League baseball title Wednesday. But the Huskies are sitting pretty. Nathaniel Acosta had a RBI single in the sixth and Joseph Keller was solid on the mound and Chino Hills took control of the league race with a 3-2 victory over host South Hills in a battle of the top two teams in the league. (To continue click thread)
Chino Hills improved to 14-5 overall and 9-1 in league play to move two games ahead of South Hills with five games to play. South Hills, getting two RBIs from Tyler France slipped to 14-4 and 7-3.
Chino Hills has won the first two games of the team’s season series, with the final game set for today at 3:15 p.m. at Chino Hills.
“We’re not paying too much attention to the standings,” Chino Hills coach Kyle Billingsley said. “We know that we control our own destiny.
“If we take it game by game, no matter if it’s South Hills, Ayala, Charter Oak, that’s our championship for the day. Each game is a championship game for us. If we don’t win one, we get the next one.”
Chino Hills got Wednesday’s after falling behind 2-1 in the first. South Hills, which had its nine-game winning streak snapped, took the lead on a France’ two-run single.
But Keller and reliever Chad Diffine, who got his first save, shutdown South Hills from there.
South Hills, which was limited to four singles, had chances to to tie the score or take the lead in the fourth and fifth innings.
Jonathan Ayala opened the fourth with a walk before South Hills put runners on first and second with one out following a throwing error. Danny Sheehan then hit a line drive that Acosta snagged in right field before easily doubling up pinch-runner Jacob Farias.
South Hills had another chance in the fifth following walks to Dominick Martinez and France. But Keller got Jeff Moran on fly out and Richard Rollice on a pop-up to end the threat.
“We had some opportunities and just didn’t cash them in today,” South Hills coach Kevin Smith said. “It was as simple as that. It was a well-played game. Give them credit. They scored when they had to, and we didn’t get it done.”
Chino Hills pushed over the go-ahead run in the sixth. Keller followed a one-out walk and stolen base by Boomer Baker with a single before Acosta’s RBI single to center field scored Baker for a 3-2 lead.
“I was just trying to execute,” Acosta said. “I was trying to get (the ball) down on the ground and get it fair, so we could possibly score.”
Diffine made it stand, turning away a two-out chance in the sixth by inducing Martinez to fly out to right. He then got South Hills in order in the seventh, striking out Moran on three pitches to end it.
“It’s a tough loss,” Smith said. “It really is. It would have been nice to squeeze one out today and setup tomorrow. But now we have to bounce back.”
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