Tustin was disqualified shortly before taking the field for its Southern Section Division III baseball semifinal Tuesday at Covina Charter Oak after admitting to using an ineligible player.
The Tillers were replaced by Villa Park, which plays at Charter Oak today at 3:15 p.m. The winner will advance to the final at Dodger Stadium Saturday at 1 p.m. against West Torrance, which beat Riverside Norte Vista, 14-4, in six innings Tuesday.
Tustin upset second-seeded Villa Park last Friday in a quarterfinal, 7-1.
According to a written statement issued by the Southern Section, Tustin officials notified the section earlier in the day of the use of a player in violation of residential eligibility. The Southern Section wouldn't release the player's name.
Neither Tustin Athletic Director Al Rosmino nor baseball Coach Greg Jennings returned phone calls. But Charter Oak Coach Richard Escalera said that Charger' Athletic Director Lou Farrar received an anonymous tip Tuesday morning from someone claiming to have proof that Tustin had an ineligible player. Escalera said Farrar called Tustin Athletic Director Al Rosmino with the information.
When Tustin arrived at Charter Oak and began warming up, Escalera thought the matter had been settled, he said. But about 1 1/2 hours before game time he was told by Charger officials that section Assistant Commissioner Bill Clark called to say Tustin had been disqualified.
The Tillers were informed of Clark's phone call by Charter Oak Vice Principal Richard Parkhouse.
"I felt terrible for them," Parkhouse said after the Tillers boarded a bus to leave. "They were already here. The kids were on the field getting ready to play."
Villa Park Coach Tom Tereschuk said he heard the news and quickly assembled the Spartans (27-2) for practice.
"Our guys had a great year and we're very excited about this," Tereschuk said. "We were very disappointed with our loss [to Tustin] the other day and we're very eager to have a second opportunity."