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Hart Gets Burned in the Third Degree

Division II: Intentional walk backfires when West Torrance's Sain hits home run in 10th inning.


TORRANCE — If a baseball team possesses bat speed and power like West Torrance High, and it plays in friendly confines like the Warriors' home field, one thing is certain:

No lead is ever safe, even when the opponent's ace is on the mound.

Hart failed to protect a six-run lead, then saw its season end in heartbreaking fashion when Greg Sain hit his third home run of the game in the bottom of the 10th inning to give West Torrance a 13-10 victory in a Southern Section Division II quarterfinal Friday at West Torrance.

The second-seeded Warriors (26-4) will play Damien in a semifinal on Tuesday.

Hart appeared to be in good shape after taking a 9-3 lead with a seven-run second inning, capped by Bob Potruch's grand slam.

But Indian pitcher Bobby Graves couldn't keep West Torrance down. The Warriors chipped away--hitting four home runs off Graves, who had allowed only five homers before Friday.

"Those guys are amazing hitters," Graves said of the Warriors. "I only pitched well in one inning."

By the sixth inning, Graves had struck out 10 but had thrown 115 pitches. He was removed after Sain's second home run--which tied the score, 10-10--and a single by Shane Schumaker.

Brian Hernandez (8-3), who threw 5 1/3 innings Tuesday in a second-round victory over Paso Robles, was effective in relief until the 10th.

He gave up a leadoff single to Warren Trott, but the ball slipped past right fielder Chris Wright, allowing Trott to reach second and setting up a fateful decision.

Hart Coach Bud Murray called for an intentional walk to Tony Cosentino, who set a state record for career hits this season, bringing Sain to the plate.

"What are you going to do?" Murray said. "Both of them can hit the . . . out of the ball. We can at least set up the double play."

But Sain hit the second pitch from Hernandez over the right-field fence for his 12th home run of the season. He finished with five hits and seven runs batted in.

"I was a little surprised [Cosentino] was walked," Sain said. "But I'm sure Tony would have done the same thing I did."

Hart (20-9) hit with the power early. Clean-up batter Matt Bell hit a two-run home run in the top of the first for a 2-0 lead. The seven-run second inning continued the offensive onslaught.

But the Indians scored only one more run, when Cody Joyce singled home Bell in the fourth. Hart was held to two hits in the final six innings.

West Torrance junior James Garcia, who pitched six innings Tuesday in an 8-4 victory over Antelope Valley, relieved Jeff Faulkner in the fourth and allowed two hits and struck out five in 3 2/3 innings.

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