East County Sports

Hot Knights return for tournament title

Foothills Christian freshman KIP FAMOLARO delivers on Saturday.

2018 EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL

 

EastCountySports.com staff report

 

LA JOLLA – After suffering a 10-0 loss to the Del Norte Nighthawks to open the season at the Bully’s-Sweetwater Tournament, it would have been understandable if the Foothills Christian Knights considered themselves underdogs against their undefeated tournament championship opponent on Saturday afternoon.

But the Knights looked far from concerned about the Nighthawks’ prowess, jumping out to a 6-0 lead, then holding on confidently for a 7-6 victory in the tourney final.

Last season, it was the Knights that came into the title game unbeaten and looking unbeatable, but they were humbled by Escondido, 12-0.

On Saturday, in a game moved back three-and-a-half hours to get a field ready for play after the overnight rains, the teams met at the La Jolla High diamond for their rematch.

Foothills Christian players on Saturday afternoon.

Foothills Christian’s bats were ready, slashing five-straight hits to take a 3-0 lead in the first.

“We kept putting pressure on them the whole game,” said Foothills Christian coach DAVE LEWIS. “We hit a lot baseballs hard and left 12 on base or we could have put it out of reach easily. (Del Norte) is a very good division 2 team and they had won all of their games easily so we knew it was not over.”

The Knights went with freshman KIP FAMOLARO to start on the hill, and he was hardly rattled, as well, taking a no-hitter into the fourth, and a six-run lead to boot.

“My arm and velocity felt great the whole game,” Famolaro said. “In the first half they couldn’t catch up to my fastball and the off-speed was working, but in the fourth inning they started to time and we made some costly errors in the field.

“TREVOR (SMALLWOOD) pitched great behind me and the entire team fought every pitch to walk away with an awesome team win. ”

In the bottom of the fourth, with two Nighthawk runners on, a high fly ball was lost in the sun, allowing the two runners to score.

In the sixth, Del Norte put together a serious challenge for the lead, as a pop up near the plate fell into fair territory, followed by a couple of seeing-eye base hits thru the infield to make it 7-6.

“Kip easily could have had a shutout,” Lewis said. “Our defense was outstanding and was led by our freshman right fielder CAMERON NICKS. Our three outfielders make it look easy.”

Smallwood came on to get the Knights out of the jam and then got three outs in the ninth despite the tying run reaching on an error with one out.

“It felt great to win our first tournament,” said Smallwood, who started walked five and allowed four runs in two innings in the earlier loss to the Nighthawks. “It was a sweet victory after dropping the first game to Del Norte.  I needed to get revenge and I think I accomplished that today.

“It felt great coming into close the game. Kip did absolutely amazing on the mound and without him, this game could have gone way differently.”

Foothills Christian’s 1-through-5 hitters each had a pair of hits, as the 1-2 combination of JALANI BROWN and CORBIN HARRIS combined for four runs scored.

“The five consecutive hits in a row made our whole team be more alive and after that, we knew had a chance to win this game,” said Brown, who is hitting .467 after six games. “Our first game we played these guys it was a challenge because there were many mistakes and our pitching and our bats weren’t alive, so to come out and show them how the Knights produce and win a ballgame feels amazing.

“We worked so hard and we got so far in the tournament not to lose the championship game, but to fight no matter what and play the game we know how to play.

“The bats today were outstanding, the game just got close to the end because they were putting the bat on the ball and they started playing their game but Trevor did his job and our defense stood right behind him. We just left a lot of guys on base, which is something we need to tie up and work on throughout the season.”

BAILEY LEWIS had a two-run double to open the scoring in the first, while Smallwood had two runs driven in, including an RBI single in the first to make it 3-zip.

“We hit the ball great today,” Smallwood said. “We have been swinging the bats very well and I think Bailey hitting that double and scoring those runs got us really excited and the momentum was just on our side from the beginning.”

Bailey Lewis blooped a single to right with nobody out in the fifth to extend the lead to 5-0.

“I felt comfortable coming into this game and seeing the ball really well at the plate,” Bailey Lewis said. “Del Norte had solid pitching but our offense is starting to come around. If we continue to play solid baseball, I find ourselves competing for the CIF (Division IV) championship.”

Famolaro added an RBI single in the second to make it 4-0 Knights.

Foothills Christian (5-1) will face Mission Bay on Monday in the Bill Dickens GMC Tournament.

“We are really playing well with our seven freshmen and only 12 players,” Dave Lewis said. “We get three 30-day sit (transfers), who are all starters, back after Easter and we will be even tougher. Five-in-a-row and a tournament championship is a great start.”

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