East County Sports

LEAGUE PREDICTIONS: Tight races begin

Valhalla celebrates during a game La Jolla. / Don De Mars Photography

2017 EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL
LEAGUE PREDICTIONS

 

By Bill Dickens
© East County Sports.com

 

EL CAJON (4-3-17) — Rarely have the Grossmont Conference baseball races been as tightly cinched as this year’s four East County circuits. Following is a breakdown of what can be expected in the respective races.

Grossmont Hills League 
1.  The early edge goes to Granite Hills (7-4). The Eagles are far superior than their record, which includes two losses to No. 1 Eastlake, another to No. 2 ranked Rancho Bernardo and once to Santana. All three of them were Top 10 teams at one time. Make no mistake about it, it’s been a rocky preseason road for the Eagles who are led by TREVOR HAZELHURST, a double threat as a pitcher and hitter. Also putting some sock in the Granite Hills lineup are center fielder-pitcher SEAN ROSS and infielder JOSH VERDON.

2. Give the nod to Grossmont. The Foothillers have excellent pitchers in JACKSON HULETT and JAYDEN LOMBARDO, who anchor a deep pitching staff. The Hillers problems will be whether they can score enough runs. In 10 games Grossmont has scored only 31 runs, which puts even more pressure on their pitching staff.

3. An early season slump put a crimp in Santana’s overall record. After the Sultans won their first four games they hit the skids, but the fact that they have NOAH NUNEZ on the mound and TRISTEN SALINAS to bolster the lineup will keep the Sultans in contention.

4. The Helix Highlanders have struggled at the plate and depended heavily on CONNOR KONISHI to pick up the slack. Pitcher JORDAN JACKSON has been a surprise, as has KEATON CHASE on the mound. The Scotties ramped up quickly in the polls, but were knocked back down with a four-game losing streak to end March.

5. Pitchers BLAKE PEYTON and BAILEY ROBERSON will try to lift the El Capitan Vaqueros out of the cellar. Batting is a question mark.

Grossmont Valley League
1.  Monte Vista
 may be the surprise team in East County. First-year coach CRAIG NEU has done a good job of kick-starting the Monarchs’ offense and has a 7-4 record, which is the best preseason record in the Grossmont Valley League. IVAN PLAZOLA is the pilot of the pitching staff, and ANDREW GONZALES and DAVID GARCIA are the primary bats in the Monte Vista lineup. If the Monarchs are to win this, they are going to have to come together as a group.

2. Although Valhalla has won only two of its first 10 preseason games, don’t count the Norsemen out. The Norsemen have the pitchers in CASEY O’SULLIVAN and brother RILEY O’SULLIVAN. Middle infielder LEWIS DIRKES is a four-year starter. The majority of the team is youthful, but if they ever put it together don’t be surprised to see league patches come their way.

3. Steele Canyon has bona fide pitchers in TYLER LUBAN and NOAH NADEAU, which would keep most teams in contention and it may serve that purpose for the Cougars. However, Steele Canyon’s inconsistent offense is led by heavy-hitting JOSH ESQUIBEL and BILLY TELLOUS.

4. The Mount Miguel Matadors are certain to put on an offensive show. They have given up 56 runs and allowed 63 in the preseason, so the ball is going to be flying around in most Matador games. ANDREW MONTIJO, a catcher/RHP, is a key player as is CONNOR WHITE, first baseman/RHP.

5. NOAH QUINTANA is the ace of the West Hills pitching staff. The CRAFT brothers, PARKER and DYLAN, are up and coming hitters for the Wolf Pack, but this team is not ready to make a run for the title.

6. Veteran HECTOR CARREON, one of the most versatile players in the league, figures to see plenty of action for the EL CAJON VALLEY Braves, but the team does not have the firepower to escape the basement.

Western League
1.  Not many teams have more power hitters than the Christian High Patriots (10-2), who are led by Arizona State-bound ZACH HOGUEISSON, currently the East County leader with 6 home runs. GARRETT NIELSEN has hit 3 round-trippers and JUSTIN LEDGERWOOD has hit 2. Yet the Patriots’ pitching is suspect.

  1. Cathedral Catholic (8-3) has allowed only 23 runs in 11 games and are currently ranked ahead of the Patriots in county polls, sitting at No. 5
  2. Scripps Ranch (9-2) also is ahead of Christian in the latest rankings, coming in a No. 7.
  3. St. Augustine (6-6).
  4. Madison (6-4).
  5. La Jolla (5-5).

Ocean League
1.  Foothills Christian (8-2), who is eyeing its first baseball championship, is an offensive powerhouse producing 84 runs so far this season (an average of 12 runs per contest). BAILEY LINK is hitting .519 so far, while JUSTIN EICHER and JOSH GATES have combined for 32 RBI.

  1. Orange Glen was 0-8 in preseason play and swept two games from Army-Navy to open the season giving them the early upper hand, leaving the Patriots 2-0 in league and 2-8 overall.
  2. Calvin Christian (3-3).
  3. Army-Navy (1-6).
  4. RockAcademy (0-5-1).

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