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Valley / Ventura County Sports

Hart Scores a Semisweet Victory Over Royal, 8-4

Division II: Indians hit three home runs, reach semifinals for first time since 1989 and keep Murray's career alive.


SIMI VALLEY — Justin Wiley wasn't surrendering a hit or a home run. He was surrendering himself.

Letting go of whatever he was holding in, the teary-eyed Hart High pitcher, who had just helped defeat Royal, 8-4, in a Southern Section Division II quarterfinal, found a quiet spot in the dugout as his celebrating teammates piled onto the team bus and he let it all sink in.

The Indians were heading to a section semifinal for the first time since 1989.

"I'm happy we did everything to perfection," he said. "We had a great game."

Wiley wasn't the full story for Hart--three players hit home runs, including an emphatic three-run shot by Jamie Shields--but he embodied the emotional aspect of what was at stake Friday at Royal.

The second-seeded Indians (26-4) lost in the first round last year as the No. 1-seeded team.

Now, the retirement party for their coach, Bud Murray, will have to wait.

In 22 years at Hart, Murray's teams have won 15 league championships.

And in this, his last year, there is talk of Hart's first Southern Section title.

"We want to bring one home for him," Wiley said.

Hart plays unseeded Don Lugo in a semifinal Tuesday at a site to be determined.

In the meantime, Wiley's teammates provided plenty of support against Royal.

Tim Hutting hit a two-run home run in the first inning, his third of the season, and Marke Horvat added a two-run homer, his sixth, in the fourth inning off starter Scott Rice (6-2).

Then came Shields' shot.

Better known for his pitching, Shields, who played first base against Royal, blasted a fastball off Rice for a three-run home run in the fifth inning that gave the Indians an 8-3 lead.

"I just waited as long as possible and stuck my bat out there," said Shields, who has a team-leading 10 home runs. "I just wanted to put the ball in play and make things happen."

Royal (21-6) was stung by double plays, grounding into three and wasting valuable scoring chances.

"They are pitchers' best friends," Coach Dan Maye of Royal said. "[Wiley] got the help when he needed it."

Rice, who is expected to be a high pick in the amateur draft next week, didn't have his best stuff for Royal, but he hit a solo home run in the fourth.

Rice threw 113 pitches, 61 for strikes, in 5 1/3 innings, allowing eight runs on five hits and striking out five.

Wiley left in the top of the seventh inning, allowing four runs on seven hits and striking out five.

How emotional was Hart?

In the sixth, Murray was restrained by an umpire after a verbal exchange with a Royal assistant.

"Maybe I should have just shut my mouth," Murray said afterward.

The final score, however, seemed to cheer him up.

"So much fun, maybe I'll [un-retire]," he said, before quickly adding, "I'm joking."

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