East County Sports

Griffins look to get back into playoff mix

Grossmont P Craig Grubbe, a sophomore



By Chris Davis
© East County Sports.com


EL CAJON (2-3-16) — The Grossmont College Griffins will be looking to get back into the CCCAA playoffs after a two-year absence.


Head coach RANDY ABSHIER will be guiding his troops through a challenging schedule that will see the team face two conference champions from the 2015 season.  The schedule also sees Grossmont facing five teams that made the playoffs a year ago.


The schedule, which begins Tuesday (Feb. 2), at Orange Empire Conference member Santa Ana.  Traditionally the toughest conference in the entire country from top to bottom, the OEC will be a major factor in the 2015 schedule.  Opening week will continue with Riverside on Thursday (Feb. 4) and will wrap up with the home opener against Chaffey Saturday (Feb. 6).


Week two of the season the Griffins will jump back into the OEC with a matchup at Fullerton Tuesday ( Feb. 9).  Fullerton made it to the Super Regionals last year going 24-17.  On Thursday (Feb. 11) Grossmont will host the Vikings of Long Beach who won the South Coast Conference a year ago.  Santa Ana will travel to El Cajon on Saturday (Feb. 13).


Tuesday (Feb. 16) will see the beginning of a very busy week for Grossmont as they travel all the way to Victorville to take on the Rams of Victor Valley.  Two days later, the Griffins will embark on a three-games-in-as-many-days stretch. It begins with a road trip to Long Beach, which will finish the home-and-home series for the year.  The “directional” portion of the schedule begins with East Los Angeles and West Los Angeles will come to Noel Mickelsen Field on back-to-back days.


The final two non-conference games will be on the road at Chaffey on Tuesday (Feb. 23) and at West Los Angeles on Thursday (Feb. 25).


Saturday (Feb. 27) will see the beginning of Pacific Coast Athletic Conference play.  The trek to a championship begins in San Marcos with a match-up against Palomar, the PCAC champion for the last five years. Palomar is in the inaugural season of their new ballpark, with a very original name of “Palomar College Ballpark.”


March will begin with a three-game home stand.  Southwestern will open the month on the first with a trip to Noel Mickelsen Field. San Diego Mesa will be the middle game in the home stand and then San Diego City will close the week and home stand out.


The next week will be a week that the Griffins will be taking the two longest trips of the year in back-to-back games. First is the mileage-wise longest trip to Imperial Valley College on Tuesday (March 8) (111 miles from campus to campus).  The following Saturday (March 12) will see the Griffins take on Mt. San Jacinto (an hour 40 minutes) in the longest in terms of travel time.


Following the once through the PCAC, the teams go into a weeklong series against each other and alternate locations.


Palomar will travel twice to Grossmont, while the Griffins will travel to San Marcos on a Thursday.


The series against Southwestern will be the opposite, as the Griffins will travel to Chula Vista twice, with the Jaguars coming to Grossmont on the Thursday.


The same goes for the series against San Diego Mesa and San Diego City.


Imperial Valley, quite regularly sets up their series that if they travel on the Thursday (as is the case with the Griffins this year), the same teams will face the next day at the same location.


The final series of the year will be against the Eagles of Mt. San Jacinto.  The Eagles will travel to El Cajon on the Tuesday and Friday of the week.



The Griffins are pretty balanced this season as far as freshmen and sophomores.  The Green and Gold have 11 veterans returning this season – 13 of the 31 players will be East County guys.


ROBERT BOSTEDT (Granite Hills, .406/1 HR/13 RBI in 2014) and MICHAEL DIFFLEY (Granite Hills, .232/3 HR/ 7 RBI) are both bouncing back from Division II and I programs in Cal Poly Pomona and UC Santa Barbara respectfully.  DONAVON McCRYSTAL (West Hills) is a pitcher that Abshier is really excited about having on the staff.  SEAN CROSBY (Valhalla, .280/0 HR/3 RBI in 2014) and DOMENIC DONATO (Valhalla, .307/3 HR /18 RBI) will be prominent in the Griffin lineup.  Donato graduated early so that he could start his collegiate career early.


COLE FLINT (Steele Canyon, .269/0 HR/13 RBI in 2014) is also high on the Abshier praise list as he is a bounce back from UCSD.


There is a local celebrity on the team as well.  Second basemen ANDRES “ANDY” RIOS (Mater Dei, San Diego) was on the Park View team in the 2009 Little League World Series.  Rios went to Odessa College in Texas last year where he hit .356 with three home runs and 33 runs batted in.


Third baseman JUSTEN BURKEY (San Pasqual) heads the North County contingent for the Griffins.  Burkey was a four-year varsity letterman for the Eagles with a career line of .313/6 HR/42 RBI over the course of his 79 varsity games.


TREVOR BEARD (San Clemente/Purdue) will be in the mix for starting behind the plate.


As far as the returners are concerned, ALAN STRONG (Santana) who threw 32 innings out of the bullpen last year.  Was recently offered an offer from UNLV.  He will be heading to Tucson to take a recruiting trip to the University of Arizona in the next few weeks.  ANDREW SCHULTZ (Patrick Henry) went 3-1 with four saves across 35 innings in 2014 for the Griffins with a sub-3.00 ERA.  CRAIG GRUBBE (University City) was 4-2 in across 11 games and a 2.92 ERA for the Griffins in his rookie season.


AARON CROSS (Mater Dei, Santa Ana/San Diego St.) is a lefty bounce back from San Diego State.  Cross is a sophomore was recruited out of high school by the likes of Arizona, Utah and San Jose State.


The Griffins will have a nice mix of veterans, transfers and freshmen in the rotation for this season.

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