By Steve Ramirez
SAN CLEMENTE – South Hills High School looked down, but the Huskies showed Tuesday they are never out.
Jonathon Ayala had a two-run double in the sixth and David Denson hit a lead-off home run in the eighth and South Hills rallied for a 4-3 victory over host San Clemente in a CIF-Southern Section Division 2 game.
The Huskies, also getting a home run from Isaiah Gonzales, improved to 22-6 and advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals against Vista Murrieta at a site to be determined today by coin flip.
The Tritons, who led 3-0 after four innings on a home run by Jake Terkoski and RBIs by Lucas Herbert and Brock Eissman, finished 23-10.
South Hills, after being held to three hits through four innings, looked like its season might end. But the Huskies refused to give in.
Gonzales started the comeback when he lined a home run to right field to make it 3-1 in the fifth. South Hills then loaded the bases in the sixth on an error, a walk and a hit-by-pitch. Ayala followed with a two-run double to right field to tie the score at 3.
Denson, after reliever Adrian De Horta escaped a San Clemente’ rally in the seventh, led off the eighth with a home run to left-center for the 4-3 lead.
De Horta retired San Clemente in order in the eighth.
South Hills coach Kevin Smith: “It was a team win. The kids just kept battling, kept fighting. They believed they could do it. I’m just really emotional. It’s a great win for us, for the program, for the school, for these kids. It’s just a great win. I’m so proud of our kids to battle back, to be down three runs on the road. We could have just rolled over, died and the season’s over. But they kept fighting, fighting and fighting.”
South Hills’ David Denson: “I just told myself to try my best and get a hit. I didn’t try to go for the fence. All I can do is try and do the best I can, and that’s what I did.”
South Hills’ Adrian De Horta: “I tried not to think ahead. This thing can get away from you, if you think like that. I tried to think one pitch at a time and my defense made some great plays behind me.”
By Steve Ramirez