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Hart Overmatched but Not Outhustled : High school baseball: Indians force top-seeded South Hills to rally for a 3-2 victory.


They went quietly.

But not shamefully.

Overmatched against the top-seeded team in the Southern Section Division II baseball playoffs, Hart High hustled and scrapped its way to a competitive showing before succumbing to powerful West Covina South Hills, 3-2, Tuesday afternoon at Hart.

"In no way do I feel bad about our kids," Hart Coach Bud Murray said. "If you look at their ballclub and our ballclub you can see they are a hell of a lot better team that we are.

"But our kids knew they were in the ballgame. They were confident. Heck, we got the job done."

Foothill League-champion Hart ends the season 19-10. Hart's basketball and football teams also were eliminated during the second round of the playoffs.

South Hills, champion of the Valle Vista League, improved its division-leading record to 25-2.

Hart managed only two hits against hard-throwing South Hills right-hander Danny Ehler (11-2), whose presence was accompanied by that of several major league scouts. The 6-foot-3 Ehler, whose fastball has been timed at 90 m.p.h., was too much for the Indians to handle--and he knew so.

"I felt I overpowered them," Ehler said. "They didn't know what was coming when my curveball was working. I had them way off balance."

Ehler overshadowed a strong effort by Hart senior right-hander Gary Stephenson, who pitched a no-hitter in the Indians' 4-0 opening-round playoff win over Hueneme. Stephenson (9-4) allowed seven hits and struck out five. He threw 99 pitches after throwing 67 last Friday.

"My arm was hanging like it was going to fall off," Stephenson said. "My shoulder is sore but I felt I was hitting my pitches. I thought I threw pretty well."

The Huskies jumped ahead, 1-0, in the top of the third inning when Ehler singled with one out, went to third on an errant pickoff throw by Stephenson and scored on an error by second baseman Darren Feeley.

The Indians took a 2-1 lead in the fourth. With one out, Alan Ray walked and moved to second on Dean's groundout.

Stephenson hit an infield single and Ray, who was running with the pitch, scored when South Hills catcher Pat Lodes dropped the throw from first baseman Bobby Medina. Brian Ballew ran for Stephenson, who went to second on the play at the plate. Ballew scored from second on a wild pitch when Lodes did not chase the ball because he thought it was a foul tip.

Lodes atoned for his mistakes in the next inning.

With one on, he drove a Stephenson pitch over the center-field fence.

"I don't feel bad about that pitch . . . he just beat me on it," Stephenson said. "Actually, I'm really surprised he hit it.

"I had it up where I wanted. I've blown that pitch by a lot of guys."

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