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Hart's Chances Gone with Wind

Division II: Wind-blown two-run single in 11th gives Centennial 5-4 victory.


NEWHALL — Sometimes you wind, sometimes you lose.

Hart High found out Friday that winds of change aren't always for the better in a scintillating quarterfinal game of the Southern Section Division II baseball playoffs at Hart.

Gusts of wind played havoc with fly balls all afternoon, none more important than one that cost the Indians dearly in a 5-4 loss to Corona Centennial in 11 innings.

The situation: Game tied, 3-3, with two out in the top of the 11th and runners on first and third for Centennial.

The batter: Sean Dunne, who had struck out three times and worse, forced his younger brother, Kevin, to leave the game by belting him in the back with a foul ball while batting in the fifth inning.

The play: Dunne lofted a fly ball to short center field. Shortstop Matt Moore went back . . . and back . . . and back as the wind carried the ball, which bounced harmlessly to his left, allowing two runs to score.

Dunne was thrown out trying to advance to second, but the damage was done.

Blown away were the Indians' chances at defending their Division II championship.

"We were playing that guy deep and Matt had to go back a little farther to get that," said Coach Jim Ozella of Hart. "We've got to communicate and we didn't. The wind helped us a couple of times [Friday] and then it hurt us."

Second-seeded Hart (23-6) scored a run in the bottom of the 11th and had Matt Friedrichsen at third with two out, but Moore grounded to first to end the game.

"To come back after having that ball drop showed a lot of character," Ozella said. "Too bad it had to end the way that it did."

Centennial (23-5) plays Santa Barbara in a semifinal Tuesday at a site to be determined.

Michael Stodolka of Centennial, expected to be a first-round pick in the amateur draft next week, struck out seven and allowed six hits in eight innings. He gave up a three-run home run to Mike Miller in the third that tied the score.

Rafael Torres (3-2), who started at shortstop and has committed to USC, pitched three scoreless innings in relief.

Both teams had chances in extra innings.

Hart had the bases loaded with one out in the eighth inning, but Brandon Montemayor bounced into a fielder's choice and Friedrichsen struck out.

"We had a couple good hitters up and couldn't get it done," Ozella said. "No doubt we were trying to get the winning run in. We had our chance."

Centennial had the bases loaded in the ninth inning, but Dunne struck out to end the threat.

Stodolka hit a two-run home run, his 17th, in the top of the third to give Centennial a 3-0 lead.

"We believed we could do it," said Coach Bill Gunn of Centennial. "Nobody else did, but we believed. That's what it took."

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