It looked like a Santa Clarita Valley block party on a sun-drenched Tuesday afternoon at College of the Canyons, where more than 1,000 spectators sat in bleachers, sat under beach umbrellas or stood 10 rows deep down the right-field line determined not to miss the Southern Section Division 1 semifinal baseball playoff game between rivals Hart and Saugus.
The game went into the 10th inning tied when Robert Reeves of Hart hit a leadoff home run over the right-field fence. Senior sidearmer Sean Ward shut down the Centurions in the bottom of the 10th, enabling the Indians to come away with a 3-2 victory and earn their first trip to a Division 1 final.
"This team finds ways to win," Coach Jim Ozella said.
Hart (20-9-1) will play Huntington Beach, a 4-0 winner over Norco, in Saturday's 7:30 p.m. final at San Manuel Stadium in San Bernardino.
Reeves had been receiving lots of teasing from Ozella in practice about his "lack of power."
"Ozella is always telling me I can't get it over [the fence]," Reeves said. "He can't make fun of me now."
Saugus (20-10-1) tied the score, 2-2, in the sixth inning on a double by Anthony Donatella. But that's when Ozella replaced starter Paul Richan with Ward, who proceeded to throw 4 2/3 innings.
Ward patterns himself after UCLA closer David Berg. It was Ozella's suggestion to Ward more than a year ago to use a sidearm motion, and what a difference it has made.
"He's always been teaching people how to do it and has had success, so I'm really happy," Ward said. "I never had these results when I was throwing like I did before."
Hart will face a tough task against No. 2-seeded Huntington Beach, which got a four-hitter from Mitchell Kovary in its semifinal victory.
The big surprise of the day was turned in by Walnut in Division 3. Walnut upset San Dimas (31-1), 4-1, and will face Redondo in the 1 p.m. final in San Bernardino.
In Division 2, Mission Viejo will play Chino Hills in the 4 p.m. final.