By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
WALNUT — South Hills and Northview high schools will meet Saturday at Mt. SAC in what might be the early-season game of the year.
The prize they will battle for will be remarkably different.
Both lost semifinal games Wednesday and will play for third place of the Dick’s Sporting Goods baseball tournament at 4 p.m. at Mt. SAC.
South Hills, now led by former Northview coach Darren Murphy, lost a somewhat controversial decision, 1-0, to Alta Loma, with the Vikings, now led by former South Hills assistant Dan Roddy, losing, 6-1, to Tahquitz. Alta Loma and Tahquitz will play for the championship at 7:30 p.m., also at Mt. SAC.
South Hills dropped to the third-place game after it appeared to tie Alta Loma on a mis-played groundball to first with two outs in the bottom of the seventh that allowed Jon Ayala, who led off with a single, to score. But it was ruled that the ball glanced off batter Corey Cadek, resulting into a foul ball and sending the runners, including Quinn Cotter, who was at first, back to their respective bases.
Cadek then flied out to center field to end the game.
“The ball takes a funny spin on a two-hopper to first base,” Murphy said. “But that’s what the call is. As I told the kids, you don’t want to put the game in the umpire’s hands, but we did. We had to rely on a call or two and when you do that, bad things are going to happen. It shouldn’t have come down to one play.”
The controversial ending overshadowed a solid performance by South Hills pitcher Gavin Velasquez, who gave up three hits and no earned runs in seven innings. He also struck out seven. Velasquez has yet to yield an earned run this season, falling to 0-1.
Alta Loma scored its only run in the fifth on back-to-back throwing errors.
“We have to score runs,” Murphy said. “We made two errors that led to their one run. It’s a tough one, but we came up short.”
Northview was no match for Tahquitz in the first game.
Junior Kaycee Garcia tossed a three-hitter and struck out 11. He retired eight of the final 11 batters.
The Titans, getting three hits and a RBI from Hayden Firth, led 5-1 after three innings.
“(Garcia) did a good job of keeping us off balance,” Roddy said. “We battled. We just didn’t seem to have much energy tonight. We had a tough time finding our rhythm. By that time, we were behind.”
Garcia also had two RBIs.
Nick Ybarra had a double for Northview, which scored its only run on a wild pitch in the second.
DICKS BASEBALL TOURNAMENT
Alta Loma 1, South Hills 0
Tahquitz 6, Northview 1
At Mt. SAC
Alta Loma vs. Tahquitz, 7:30 p.m.
At Mt. SAC
South Hills vs. Northview, 4 p.m.