HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL : USDHS Gets Relief from Rare Source, Advances

The only concern Coach Dick Serrano has about his No. 4 USDHS baseball team is for its infield. But when he was looking for a relief pitcher to stop a three-run, seventh-inning rally at No. 8 Granite Hills Tuesday, he picked his opposite.

Left-hander Rob Reiter said he did not worry about defense after he retired three of the next four batters to help his team win, 6-4, in the Hilltop-Moose Tournament that moved the Dons (4-0) into Saturday's 1:30 p.m. championship game against Poway at Hilltop.

Reiter--a starting pitcher who appeared quite loose in the rare relief assignment--seems to be concerned about only one thing: winning.

"I like situations like this," he said. "Whatever to help the team. That's most important. I have a great defense behind me. Nothing's going to get through them. I have no worries. Just let (the opposition) hit it."

Serrano called on Reiter after shortstop Tim Linaugh mishandled a double-play ball, allowing Jeff Vance to score the Eagles' second run of the inning. Reiter, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior, got one out then yielded an RBI-single to Tom Fordham to make it 6-4, Dons.

But with the tying runs on base and one out, Reiter struck out both Charlie Smith and Tom Potts for the save and a victory for left-handed starter Kevin McDonald (2-0), who struck out seven in five plus innings.

Serrano didn't want to use Reiter (who threw a two-hit shutout against Hilltop last week) in that situation. But his top reliever, Robb Floco, has a bad shoulder. Floco, playing third base, contributed a pair of singles that drove in three runs.

"We struggled to hang on," said Serrano, "but it's good win because it was on the road against a good team and a good pitcher."

Fordham, Granite Hills' senior right-hander, had good command of his breaking pitches and held the Dons hitless through the first three innings. Then after getting the first two hitters in the fourth, Fordham yielded four hits in a row--including a ground-rule double by David Thompson to straightaway center and a slicing two-run single by Floco to right.

Fordham (1-1) gave way to Potts in the sixth and Potts immediately got in hot water, allowing a single to Jeff Moore, an RBI-double to Aaron Blair, an intentional walk to Thompson and a single to Floco. Linaugh followed with a grounder that went through the legs of third-baseman Smith. In all, Granite Hills (2-2) committed four errors while the Dons built a 6-1 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.

Chad Burchett opened the Eagles' seventh with a single off Dons reliever Drew Slacum, followed by an RBI-double by Jeff Vance that was misplayed into a triple by center fielder Chris Richard. Then came a walk to Mike Smith, Linaugh's error and Serrano's decision to use Reiter--which ultimately left a sour taste in the mouth of Granite Hills Coach Gordy Thompson.

"We should have done something in the first inning," said Thompson, who saw his team get 10 hits but strand 11 runners, three in the first. "And we cannot afford to let the ball go through our legs against a team like Uni. But I think we'll be OK."

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