East County Sports

LIONS: Cougars feel at home vs. Sultans

A Palo Verde runner slides into second against Christian High on Tuesday. / Photo by Don De Mars - Don De Mars Photography



EastCountySports.com staff report


SANTEE – Junior AARON TAYLOR, the Cougars’ No. 9 hitter on Tuesday, homered and doubled as Steele Canyon improved to 2-0 in the Premier Division of the Lions Tournament with a 5-2 win over the Santana Sultans in a battle of Grossmont Conference foes.

Taylor hit a two-run home run to left in the third inning, giving the Cougars a 3-0 lead.

In the first inning, Steele Canyon’s BILLY TELLOUS singled on a 2-2 pitch to drive in JOSH ESQUIBEL, who singled with two out then stole second.

Senior right-hander IVAN CANALES earned the win, allowing two runs on two hits over five innings, striking out five.

Junior right-hander BRAD BARKLEY threw two innings in relief for SC to earn the save.

Senior LUKE ARIAS had two hits, including a double, and scored twice for Steele Canyon (4-5).

Junior RICHIE PEDRIN added a sacrifice fly in the fourth to drive in Taylor, who had a one-out double to left.

Santana (3-8) made a push to stay in the game when junior BEN HART hit a two-out double to right, scoring seniors TIMMY TISCHER (walk) and TC SIMMONS (HBP).

Steele Canyon will travel to face the Clairemont Chieftains to try and seal the division championship game berth on Wednesday at 2.


EL CAJON VALLEY 10, HOOVER 2 – The El Cajon Valley Braves opened their new uniforms fresh out of the wrapper, then exploded for six runs in the third inning on its way to a victory over Hoover on Tuesday in Division 1A of the Lions Tournament.

In the bottom third inning, the Braves’ JESUS FAVELA double home two runs for a 3-0 lead.

The Braves’ GREG SANCHEZ had eight strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings. He allowed two runs on seven hits, walking just one.

Sanchez also had an RBI single in the bottom of the third for the first run of the game.

The rally included singles by ROBERT VERDUGO, LUIS HUERTA and AARON RODRIGUEZ.

Verdugo had a two-run single to make it 3-0 El Cajon Valley, while Huerta singled to left to cap the rally.

“It felt great to be a part of that rally and get the win today because we improved from our last game a lot and we were ready,” Verdugo said. “Everybody had the same mind-set to get this win so we can try to make it to the championship on Thursday.”

In the bottom of the sixth El Cajon Valley’s PAULO MICHEL tripled home two runs with a shot to the fence in center to up the lead to 8-2.

“We just strung some hits together and I was fortunate enough to be up there with a chance to help my team win,” Michel said. “I worked the count and got a good pitch to hit and from there we just kept that momentum going. (Our) pitchers kept the lead and just closed it out.”

SEBASTIAN SANCHEZ, Michel, and Rodriguez all had two hits.

“I felt really good about the sixth inning rally because it just meant more insurance runs to put the game away,” Sebastian Sanchez said. “I was seeing the ball very well today, pulled a ball inside and took another ball oppo for two base hits.”

Rodriguez threw one inning of relief.

“We took advantage of every possibility today, and the result was much different than yesterday,” El Cajon Valley head coach CLIFTON THOMAS said. “That’s what we talked about in our pregame meeting and the boys stuck to it.

The Braves (2-3) will host Temecula Prep on Wednesday in the last game of the round robin-event at 3.

“They played with a different level of passion, fire, and hunger, that helped propel them to victory,” Thomas said.. “I am very proud of my boys for finding a way to bounce back. We’ll see if we can get another one tomorrow to help get us back to .500 and hopefully string a couple more along the way.”


FOOTHILLS CHRISTIAN 7, CENTRAL 5 – Foothills Christian’s “Mr. Do-It-All” freshman KIP FAMOLARO delivered a complete game as the Knights won in the Lions Tournament’s 3A Division over the Spartans from El Centro.

Famolaro, who is primarily a catcher but has been asked to perform nearly every role in the field so far this season, including on the mound, allowed only two earned runs on Tuesday.

“I attribute my success to my teammates,” Famolaro said. “They played defense so well for me and fought every inning to stretch our lead. It was a great team effort to take home the dub today. Glad I was able to do my job.”

Foothills Christian got things rolling in the first when TYLER KENNEDY got a two-run base hit to left for the early lead.

“I was having problems with lunging and staying back waiting for the ball but (my) coach helped me work on it and fixed my approach,” Kennedy said. “Ever since myat-batss have been better and I’ve been hitting the ball a lot better.”

The Knights scored two more in the second, including the back end of a double steal at home by junior JALANI BROWN.

CORBIN HARRIS drove in a run in the fourth to put Foothills up by a 5-2 margin, as Brown (double) came around to score.

TREVOR SMALLWOOD singled to center, bringing home Harris for a 6-2 lead.

The Spartans would eventually pull to within 6-4 in the bottom of the sixth, but the Knights would tack on an insurance run in the seventh when Kennedy stole home.

“(We were) down to ten players and everyone contributed to the win,” Foothills Christian head coach DAVE LEWIS said. “JACK WURTS  turned in another great game behind the plate. NATE WOLFORD and REAGAN GALVIS getting their first starts of the year each had a big hit to keep innings going.

“So proud of the effort of these young men stepping up and making it happen.”

Foothills Christian will take on Placer (4-4), of Auburn, on Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Grossmont High.


EL CAPITAN 6, DEL NORTE 2 – The Vaqueros got a two-hit complete game from senior SHAYNE CUNNINGHAM and El Capitan defeated Del Norte on Tuesday to improve to 2-0 in the 6A Division of the Lions Tournament.

El Capitan will travel to face Bishop’s on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in La Jolla.

Cunningham struck out six and allowed just one earned run. He threw 95 pitches. He retired the side in the first, fourth, fifth and sixth inning.

Cunningham also had two hits, drove in a run and scored once.

El Capitan (4-6) scored on a groundout by senior HUNTER MARKLE  in the first inning and a single by senior JAKE COKER in the second inning after Del Norte got a run in the top half of the inning to tie the game.

After Del Norte scored one run in the top of the third, El Capitan senior STEVIE MONTEJANO had an RBI groundout.

El Cap sophomore DOMINIC BAKER singled home a run in the fourth to make it 5-2.


VALHALLA 5, MOUNTAIN VIEW 2 – Valhalla senior JACOB BARBA had a two-run double to center in the bottom of the fifth with two outs to break open a 3-2 game and two Norsemen pitchers named Evan combined to beat the Cougars, from Bend, Ore., in the Premier Division of the Lions Tournament.

Barba’s hit scored junior JONAH ST. CLAIRE (single) and senior TANNER SMITH (walk), who combined to start the two-out rally.

Valhalla got on the board in the first inning when KYLE CASPER singled on the first pitch of the at-bat, driving COLE HOWARD in the first for a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the third inning, Mountain View tied things up at 2-apiece.

In the fourth, Howard’s sac fly scored a run for Valhalla.

Junior EVAN O’NEILL was strong on the hill for the Norsemen. He pitched four scoreless innings in relief, allowing three hits and striking out five.

Senior EVAN APPLEBAUM started for Valhalla and went three innings, allowing three hits and two unearned runs while striking out two and walking none.


Valhalla will host No. 12 Mission Hills in the third round-robin game of the Lions Tournament on Wednesday at 3.


TORREY PINES 4, HELIX 2 – In the Open Division of the Lions Tournament, No. 4 Helix fell to No. 5 Torrey Pines in the bottom of the seventh when Mac Bingham homered on a 2-1 pitch.

Helix opened up scoring in the first inning, when BRANDON PETERSON homered on the first pitch of the at-bat, driving in ERICK SMELKO (walk).

Torrey Pines evened things up at 2-all in the bottom of the third.

Helix sophomore right-hander THOMAS CANEDAY went six innings up until the final moment, striking out three and walking none.

Peterson had three hits on the afternoon, while junior DEVIN BAKER contributed a pair of hits for the Highlanders.

“Today was a tough loss but we could of overall done a better job at the plate today as a team,” Baker said. “The pitcher was painting the outside corner and I adjusted my approach to hit the pitch where it was thrown. I also felt very relaxed at the plate today coming off from my performance yesterday, as well.”

Helix (7-3) will host El Camino Real (6-7), of Woodland Hills, on Wednesday at noon, at home.


RANCHO BERNARDO 6, GROSSMONT 4 – The third-ranked Broncos knocked off the seventh-ranked Foothillers in the Open Division of the Lions Tournament on Tuesday afternoon at Gizoni Field.

The Broncos came back from a 4-3 deficit as the Connor O’ Brien hit a 3-1 pitch for a three-run home run to right-center field and finished off the Hillers with four RBI overall.

“If your lucky enough to be in this game long enough, those things happen,”  Grossmont head coach JORDAN ABRUZZO said. “We get another great chance to compete tomorrow.”

It was the fourth home run of the day to travel out over the right side.

Senior JESSE GARCIA and junior ZAK FARRIS hit home runs for Grossmont.

Garcia went deep in the first inning for his third home run of the season, while Farris put one out in the sixth inning.

Rancho Bernardo evened things up at 3-apiece in the top of the fifth inning on a solo homer.

” I’m proud of our guys for the way we competed today,” Abruzzo said. “We were one out away from beating another top-five team and just couldn’t finish it.”

Senior right-hander TYLER PARENT worked 6 1/3 innings, striking out five, and also contributed with two hits at the plate, including a double, and scored a run.

Senior AUSTIN ODOM added two hits for the Hillers.

Grossmont (5-4-1) faces national Nevada-state No. 1 Bishop Gorman (8-1), of Las Vegas, on Wednesday, at 11. a.m.


CATHEDRAL CATHOLIC 8, GRANITE HILLS 5 (8 innings) – The second-ranked Dons got by the 11th-ranked Eagles in the Open Division of the 67th annual Lions Tournament at Granite Hills High on Tuesday.


In the bottom of the sixth inning, Granite Hills tied the game at 4-all when senior JAKE FENN lifted a sacrifice fly.

The game remained tied at 4-apiece heading into the eighth, but an error and a pair of doubles broke it open for Cathedral.

Fenn drove in a run in the bottom of the eighth to bring the tying tun to the plate with two out.

Granite Hills Eagles scored three runs in the third inning to take a 3-1 lead.

Sophomore TK PARKER doubled to center, scoring sophomore DILLON GOINS (single), then senior TREVOR HAZELHURST doubled to center, scoring Parker and SEAN MCGREW.

The Dons rallied to tie the game in the fifth on a two-run double, then went ahead 4-3 in the top of the sixth  on a sac fly.

“It was a tough loss, but live and learn,” Granite Hills coach JAMES DAVIS said. “I thought we competed and have been competing most of the year. We need to get better with our outfield.”

Granite Hills travels to face San Marcos in the round-robin final on Wedensday at 3 p.m.


MADERA SOUTH 9, MOUNT MIGUEL 6 – JOJO CASTILLO homered for the Matadors, who rallied from a 5-2 deficit with three runs in the fourth, but Madera South scored three runs in the top of the seventh to dash the Matadors hopes of a Lions Tournament 3A Division win with a late score for the second-straight contest.

Mount Miguel scored three runs in the fourth inning to tie the game at 5-apiece.

After Castillo’s home run, ERIK KELLY doubled to right, then RUBEN PRECIADO-TEJEDA tripled to right, scoring Kelly.

“We issued 14 walks and still had the lead going to into the sixth,” Mount Miguel head coach FRANK COIT said. “Once we break through, I do believe we will be very difficult to deal with.”



Mount Miguel (2-7) will face Maranatha Christian (4-5) on Wednesday at 3 at home in the final round-robin game of the Lions Tournament.



PALO VERDE 10, CHRISTIAN 1 – Christian dropped a one-sided Lions Tournament Classic Division game to Palo Verde, of Las Vegas, the second-ranked team in Nevada.

Christian High’s OWEN EASLEY and Palo Verde’s TYLER KIM at first base on Tuesday. / photo by Don De Mars – Don De Mars Photography

The Patriots managed just four hits and struck out 13 times.

Senior BRAD JEREMIAH singled and scored for Christian in the bottom of the first after the Panthers took a 2-0 lead.

ALEX MARKOWICZ and GARRET NIELSEN doubled for the Patriots.

Palo Verde’s Jacob Godman homered in the first inning, while teammate Peyton Cole hit a home run in the fourth.

“Right now we are in a bit of a funk as a team,” Christian coach BRYAN MITCHELL said. “We’re really young so we are making mistakes that these good teams are capitalizing on. We are looking for someone to become a leader to step up and make the big play when we need it right now.”


Braedon Ross, Peyton Berroth, Dylan Page, and Trace Ramos each entered the game as relief, throwing one inning, two-thirds of an inning, two-thirds of an inning, and two-thirds of an inning respectively.

Christian (4-7) hosts Del Oro, of Loomis, at 3 p.m. on Wednesday in the Lions finale.


TAFT 15, MONTE VISTA 4 – In the Lions Tournament 5A Division, the Monarchs fell to Taft, of Woodland Hills, on Tuesday.

Taft quickly built their lead over the first four frames and sustained it until the Monarchs broke through with four in the last of the sixth.

Freshman ANDY CANEDO (2-for-3) drove in a pair of runs with a base hit and junior ANDREW SAVOY singled home another pair just two batters later. Both men stole a base, as well.

Monte Vista committed six errors.

“We need to play better,” Monte Vista coach CRAIG NEU said. “We are beating ourselves. If we catch the ball, we have a chance.”

The Monarchs travel to face Mater Dei Catholic on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in their Lions’ finale.



MOUNTAIN EMPIRE 3, HIGH TECH CHULA VISTA 2 – Mountain Empire defeated the High Tech Bruins (3-4) on Tuesday in a Lions tourney Division 2A game in the South Bay.

The game was tied at 2-apiece in the bottom of the fifth when WYATT MANN singled on a 2-2 count, driving in a run for the Red Hawks.

TREVOR ELLIOTT struck out 11 for Mountain Empire, going seven innings, allowing four hits and two runs.

RYAN SAWYER led Mountain Empire (6-2) with two hits in three at-bats.

Mountain Empire will travel to meet Southwest (San Diego) on Wednesday at 3 in the Lions Tournament.

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