West Covina South Hills scored two runs in the seventh inning for a come-from-behind 4-3 over Redlands East Valley on Saturday to win the Southern Section Division 2 baseball championship at San Bernardino Stadium. REV was held to two hits by Brandon Dieter and trailed 2-0 after five innings. REV finishes at 23-8.
REV came alive in the sixth inning after Paul Rojas’ leadoff triple traveled to the left field fence. Rojas scored on a sacrifice fly from Christian Kirtley. Robert Gonzalez followed with a pinch hit single, Brett Vansant walked, and Joseph Rodriguez’ bunt scored Gonzalez. Justin Wear followed with a bunt to score Vansant for a 3-2 lead. REV then needed three outs for the championship.
REV coach James Cordes brought in Ryan Silva in an a attempt to close out the win. Silva had not allowed an earned run during two playoff wins covering 13 innings. South Hills went right to work in the seventh with singles from Quinn Cotter, Jacob Dominquez, Nick DeLa Cruz and sac fly by Christian Moya for its 4-3 lead.
The Wildcats got an outstanding performance from reliever Noah Moya who replaced starter Andrew Miner in the top of the fourth. Trailing 2-0, Moya kept REV in the game by throwing three innings of scoreless middle relief without allowing a hit. “I was very comfortable with bringing in Ryan (Silva) as a closer. He closed for us earlier in the year,” said Cordes, who felt Moya was stretched as far as possible in the one hundred degree temperature. It was Moya’s longest outing of the season.
“The seventh inning is a tough inning. We needed to get the leading lady and we could not do that,” said Cordes, referring to Cotter’s leadoff single in the seventh. “We knew that it was a long way to go when we led 3-2 into the seventh. South Hills was No. 1 for a reason.”
REV managed to get the tying run on third base with one out in the seventh on singles from Keller Raborn and Rojas. But winning pitcher Ryan Mauch got a double play to end the game. Kirtley made seven defensive plays at second base and shortstop Rodriguez made three difficult plays, not including a great tag on a first inning pickoff. Centefielder Rojas added to REV’s good showing by running down two long fly balls.
REV’s starter Miner finished his amazing senior season at 9-0 with a 1.15 ERA. He escaped the loss on Saturday after giving up three hits and two runs (one earned) in three innings. “I just couldn’t get my feet under me today,” said Miner, who said he will no longer play baseball, instead concentrating on his studies next year at BYU. He admitted that his impressive season came as a surprise. “I never won many games before I started throwing over the top. Last season I threw sidearm.” He was 1-1 with a 1.56 ERA last year.
Losing pitcher Silva entered the game with a 7-4, 0.90 ERA. The junior was on the JV’s last season. Rojas, a senior was another who blossomed into a All-Citrus Belt League 1st team star. He totaled 11 hits last season but had 45 this year. His .468 batting average and 18 steals led the CBL.
To the very end of the game Cordes said he reminded his players about “our type of baseball.” Opposing manager Darren Murphy described REV as a tough team who was good at “small ball.” Murphy was concerned about REV having a home field advantage. “In the seventh inning I told the team to take a strike. I reminded them about how great it will feel when we come back and win it. I wanted to stay positive. The drama of the game added to the story.”