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Quartz Hill Wills Its Way to a Win Over Palmdale, 7-6


Words to live by at Quartz Hill High: Where there's a Will, there's a way. But where there's a Willey ?

Quartz Hill shortstop Brian Willey admits that the last thing he considered as he stepped into the box was hitting the ball over the fence. No doubt because in every previous at-bat over his two seasons on the varsity, he'd never done it.

"It never came into my mind," Willey said.

The ball soon went out of the yard.

Willey hit a two-out grand slam in the seventh inning and power-hitting teammate Will Wallace followed with a solo shot Friday as Quartz Hill stunned Palmdale, 7-6, in a Golden League game before a rowdy crowd at Palmdale.

Willey couldn't believe what he had done, even several minutes after the fact. "It's just now starting to sink in," said Willey, a 5-foot-10, 145-pound senior. "I'm still a little light-headed about it."

Quartz Hill was sinking into second place as the seventh inning opened. Palmdale, which with a victory would have moved past the Rebels (11-6, 8-1 in league play) in the league standings, had ace right-hander Todd Berry pitching and a 6-2 lead. Berry (7-1) had allowed only two hits--one a bunt single--in three innings of exemplary relief.

In fact, Palmdale (14-4-1, 6-2-1) was within one out of first place when Berry served up consecutive two-out singles to Nelson Rios and Jeff Bowne to load the bases for Willey, who was hitless in three at-bats.

With a gusting breeze blowing in from left, the right-handed batter hit the first pitch over the fence in right to tie the score, 6-6. The Quartz Hill dugout exploded and things still hadn't settled down when Wallace--who was jeered the entire game by a spirited group of Palmdale students--homered to the identical spot.

"It was exciting," said Wallace, whose eight homers lead all players in the Antelope Valley. "Now I know what Darryl Strawberry feels like with all that 'Darr-ylll' stuff. It's motivating."

Right-hander Freddy Coleman (4-1) barely hung on on the bottom of the seventh. He allowed one-out singles to Steve Ronge and Don Dickey, then walked No. 9 hitter Kevin Habeger with two out to load the bases. With the overflow crowd going bonkers, leadoff batter Jerome Payton hit a foul pop fly that Coleman caught to end it.

Willey looked dazed. Quartz Hill Coach Mike Nielson couldn't believe the turnaround either.

"That's our ballgame--we hit the long ball," Nielson said. "But I was really worrying about that when I saw this wind blowing in."

In light of the seventh inning, call it the winds of change.

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