East County Sports

ROUNDUP: Highlanders win opener


EastCountySports.com staff report
LA MESA – The climb to ascend the top of baseball’s mountain of success continues for the West Hills Wolf Pack, despite falling to Mira Mesa, 4-3, in Saturday‘ season opener f the Foothillers Tournament held at Helix High.
The host Highlanders captured the first of two contests on the day, 8-4, against powerful Madison.
The Wolf Pack rallied from a 4-0 deficit with three runs in the 6th inning, then moved within inches of moving even with the Marauders. However, on an afternoon when both team defenses shined, Mira Mesa was able to cut down the tying run at the plate to hang for the victory.
“Both teams looked like they were in midseason form, especially on defense,” said West Hills third-year coach Mickey Deutschman. “We seemed a little nervous early, but once we smacked a couple of line drives, it was anybody’s ballgame.”
In Deutschman’s first game as head coach in 2016, Mira Mesa fired a no-hitter at the Pack. This go-round, a one-out double  in the third inning showed they would refuse to roll over.
“This was the first time in forever that this school ran a strong off-season program,” added the coach, who is a member of the National Semipro Baseball Fall of Fame with more than 1,100 career victories. “This program said for years that they want to win. Well now, they doing what’s necessary to do so.”
Since the school began varsity competition in 1990, the Wolf Pack own just a single league championship — but with an asterisk.
In 2003, WHHS was one game behind Grossmont entering the final day of the regular season. The Pack won their season finales, but Grossmont, in preparing for the playoffs, were upset to forge a deadlock for the old Grossmont North League.
This spring, some consider West Hills to be a co-favorite to contend for the Grossmont Valley League crown.
“It’s way too early to talk about such things,” added the coach. “But inside, we’d like to think we can be there.”
The huge tally saw a lead walk to second baseman Kai Daniels, catcher Andrew Ritayik lined a base hit to right, then center fielder Chris Schroeder walked to load the bases.
An out later, first baseman Gavin Kondyra stroked an RBI base hit over the head of the Mira Mesa second baseman to end the Marauders’ shutout bid, then left fielder Colton Corderman walked to force in a run.
That’s when Mira Mesa’s defense came through. The third baseman snagged a ball ticketed down the left-field line, firing to the plate to gain a critical force out.
Leadoff hitter Cody Pedrero followed by reaching base for the third time without the aid of a hit, walking with the bases loaded for an RBI to move with a run before the Marauders escaped.
Mira Mesa left-handed closer than Aaron Leicester, a junior, then retired West Hills in order in the 7th to register the save.
We talked about the defense, so here we go:
West Hills shortstop Joe Thrailkill twice ranged deep in the hole to flag the ball,  then threw against his body for the out at first base in the 1st and 4th innings.
In the 3rd, Thrailkill was in the middle of a splendid double play, when Peyton Honick dived fived to knock down a ball headed for center field. He gloved the ball to Thrailkill covering second, then relayed the ball to Kondyra at first base.
Then in the 6th, Wolf Pack third baseman Devin Bevilacqua caught a line drive, then made a long dive to the bag to eliminate the runner for an inning-ending, unassisted double play.
Mira Mesa also converted twin-killers in the 2nd and 3rd frames.
Later, center fielder Stephen Thompson ended a pair of innings with nice catches. In the 4th, he charged forward for a diving snag to prevent Thrallskill from registering consecutive doubles.
Thompson also reached high to snare a line drive for the game’s final out. He prevented Kondyra from reaching base for a fourth straight time (1 hit, 2 walks), preventing West Hills from placing the potential game-tying run into scoring position.
Leading 1-0 early, Mira Mesa expanded its lead on a 2-run single by No. 3 hitter Gabe Jones in the 3rd.
West Hills (0-1) returns to tournament action Wednesday (Mar. 7), hosting the Montgomery Aztecs at 3:30 p.m.


HELIX 8, MADISON 4 – Junior ERICK SMELKO hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth to give the Highlanders a 4-3 lead and drove in three runs on the day to lead Helix over the Warhawks.

Later, the game was tied at four with Helix batting in the bottom of the sixth when an error scored one run.

GRIFFIN ZAMORA started for Helix and lasted four innings, allowing five hits and three runs while striking out four.

DEVIN BAKER had three hits for Helix and scored twice.

CARLOS OQUITA drove in a pair of runs on a couple of bases-loaded walks, while BRANDON PETERSON had an RBI single to put Helix up 2-0 in the third.

JOSIAH ESTRADA delivered 1 2/3 innings of shutout relief despite three walks and a hit along the way.


WESTVIEW 3 GROSSMONT 2 – Starter JACK HYDE pitched well for Grossmont, allowing just one run on five hits over five innings, but the Foothills rally from a 3-0 deficit through six fell short.

TYLER PARENT double in the Foothillers first run in the sixth inning, scoring CHRIS GIOVENGO, who walked.

In the seventh, AUSTIN ODOM doubled with two outs, scoring JASE RUSSELL.

Parent and Russell both had two hits for the Hillers.

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