Los Angeles Preps: CJ Saylor

France leads South Hills with arm and bat

May, 17, 2012
5/17/12
6:42
PM PT
Ty FranceBlair Angulo/For ESPNLA.comTy France pitched a complete game and knoncked in three runs for South Hills on Thursday.

WEST COVINA -- An electric right arm. A compact swing. A keenness for high-stress situations.

Senior Ty France of South Hills put all of his skills on display Thursday afternoon, leading the Huskies to a 4-0 victory against visiting Upland in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 baseball playoffs. France, a San Diego State signee, struck out 11 in a complete-game effort and also drove in three runs.

By the way France looked, you'd never guess it was only his second start of the season.

"I didn't expect him to go seven innings and shut them out. It's just a great effort on his part," South Hills head coach Kevin Smith said. "He's a bulldog. I wish I had 15 of him."

France has been on varsity for four years, experiencing sudden success as a freshman on a South Hills squad that captured the section title. He's a known commodity in the San Gabriel Valley, a slick-fielding shortstop who doubles as his team's closer. Smith, though, wanted his best curveball thrower on the mound against an Upland lineup that scored 22 runs in the wild-card round earlier in the week.

"I love pitching," France said. "I love getting out there and controlling the game."

France did that and more, scattering six hits and walking only two, one of them intentional. He helped his own cause at the plate with a pair of two-out RBI singles, putting South Hills (18-7) up early. UCLA signee Daniel Robertson had half of Upland's hits in his final high school game.

"Getting those two early runs helped a lot," France said.

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Dynamic duo at South Hills

March, 28, 2012
3/28/12
11:27
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WEST COVINA -- Ty France and C.J. Saylor jog out the corner gate, walk along the outfield fence and, together, retrieve the American flag that waves during their baseball games at South Hills High School. Having fulfilled their duty as team captains and now eying a celebratory snack, the dynamic duo briefly stops at the snack shop behind left field.

Suddenly they sprint back toward the dugout at the sound of Huskies head coach Kevin Smith's whistle, again in unison.

They've known each other for about a decade, their friendship beginning on little league diamonds and growing on travel ballclubs. They bat third and fourth in the South Hills lineup, forming a tandem feared by pitchers across the San Gabriel Valley. And they've signed on to play together next season at San Diego State.

"They were role players for a couple of years," Smith says. "Now they're big time."

Both stand at around 5 feet 10, but France is the flashier of the two. Hair flows out of his hat, his eye black is purposely smeared and the web of his infield glove is bold green. France is a natural third baseman, Smith says, but has unselfishly stepped in at shortstop and doubles as closer.

"When I get on base I feel like he's going to get me in every time," Saylor says. "When Ty's hitting behind me, I know he's going to get the job done."

Saylor is the louder of the two, a fiery catcher who demands attentiveness from the other eight players on the field. He sports a buzz cut and old-school stirrups.

"He takes charge," France says. "When we're in the dugout he's always on everyone, making sure they're in the game."

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