East County Sports

ROUNDUP: Helix, Valhalla set pace



EastCountySports.com staff report


LA MESA – The Helix Highlanders landed the first major salvo heading into the second half of the Grossmont Hills League season by beating rival Grossmont, 10-4, at Gizoni Field on Tuesday afternoon.

The Highlanders improved to 4-1-1 at the halfway point of the GHL season, good enough for a two-game lead in the standings.

Helix scored four runs in the first inning, topped of by a two-run home run to right by junior CARLOS OQUITA, then later added five runs in the top of the seventh to finalize the result after the Foothillers belted their way back into the game.

“It feels good to have been able to sweep Grossmont and even better to have hit a home run,” Oquita said. “(Grossmont’s pitcher) threw me a fastball outside and I was able to drive it the other way.”

Helix sophomore ALONZO RICHARDSON reached base on all five plate of his appearances, including a pair of singles and a bases-loaded walk.

Richardson also ended the game for the Highlanders, coming on to hurl 1 2/3 innings of one-hit ball for another save.

Grossmont recovered from the early blow to pull within 5-4 through five behind home runs from AUSTIN ODOM and JASE RUSSELL.

In the first for Helix, senior BRANDON PETERSON got the scoring started with a single to left on a 2-0 delivery scoring Richardson (HBP).

Grossmont senior JESSE GARCIA had a sac fly in the bottom of the first for some Hiller noise after the stunning Scottie start.

Odom lifted his homer to right-center in the fourth, making it a 5-2 ballgame.

Foothiller junior ZAK FARRIS later had a two-out RBI single in the fourth to score senior CHRIS GIOVENGO (double).

Grossmont pulled to within a run on Russell’s solo shot to right.

Oquita drove in his third run of the day to start the Scottie scoring in the seventh by squeezing a grounder up the middle past a dive and into short center, bringing home Peterson (single).

“We just need to keep grinding and beating the game of baseball and we’ll for sure be playing open division,” Oquita said. “It was an all-around win. Pitching tried to limit runs and everyone in the line up contributed.”

Helix senior AUSTIN KRETSCHMAR then smacked a base hit to center past another diving try to plate senior ZACK OWENS (single).

Kretschmar was flustered by his short relief stint in the blustery conditions, forcing Helix head coach COLE HOLLAND to reach for his closer early.

“I couldn’t find a feel for my pitches so I was wild,” Kretschmar said. “So I had to give it up to the next guy (Richardson) and my team because I knew they would pick me up, which is exactly what happened.”

Junior GRIFFIN ZAMORA singled home a run in the Helix’s five-run seventh, while seenior ERICK SMELKO added a sac fly.

Sophomore THOMAS CANEDAY got the win for Helix, as allowed five hits and three runs over three and two-thirds innings, striking out three and walking none.

“Anytime you can get road wins in this league it’s a positive,” Holland said. “You have to play really good baseball to win games no matter who you play. We really try and take it game by game we don’t look back or the future just try to take care of business each day

“We really try and take it game by game we don’t look back or the future just try to take care of business each day

Helix has a back-t0-back two-game home-and-home set on Thursday and Friday with another title challenger, Granite Hills.

Grossmont’s two-game series on those days is with Santana, which will be desperate to remain in title contention.

“Helix was the better team,” Grossmont coach JORDAN ABRUZZO said. “They came out ready to compete right away in both games (including a 3-2 win last Friday) and unfortunately we didn’t. We battled in both but it wasn’t enough.

“Baseball is hard. It reveals character. We have a chance to find out what kind of character we have. Adversity is a great thing if you look at it right.”


EL CAPITAN 8, GRANITE HILLS 1 – The Vaqueros racked up five runs in the first two innings much to the delight of the home-side bleachers.

And it was definitely to the dismay of the visitors, who found themselves not only in serious catch-up mode in this one but now also in the Grossmont Hills League pennant chase.

El Capitan seniors BLAKE PEYTON made sure there would be no contest, striking out 11 in a complete-game effort.

Peyton and fellow senior STEVIE MONTEJANO both had three hits, while senior SHAYNE CUNNINGHAM drove in three runs on a double in the second inning for the Vaqueros, which kept their dim title hopes alive with a 3-5 record in the GHL.

Peyton had an RBI double to give El Cap its first run in the first inning. He doubled again for an RBI in the second, making it 5-0 for the gold side.

Peyton struck out three in the first sandwiched around a walk. He also struck out the side in the fourth.

In the seventh, he again fanned three despite allowing a one-out walk.

Senior JAKE COKER and Montejano both had RBI singles in the fifth inning.

Senior TREVOR HAZELHURST singled home the Eagles’ run in the top of the sixth, scoring SEAN MCGREW (walk).

“(Peyton) pitched well,” Granite Hills coach JAMES DAVIS said. “Just a bad day. We didn’t do anything well.”

The Vaqueros play an interesting non-league game at Valley Center on Thursday.


VALHALLA 7, MONTE VISTA 4 – The Monarchs came ready for the Grossmont Valley challenge on the road, but the Norsemen turned away another one of its closest contenders with a come-from-behind victory and the complete-game pitching of TANNER SMITH.

The Monarchs’ DERRICK WILEY drove in two runs for a 2-0 lead as Monte Vista led 3-0 in the first.

The Norsemen would counter with two in the bottom of the frame on a sacrifice fly by KYLE CASPER and a line triple to left by COLE HOWARD

Howard singled to right, scoring Casper to tie the game at 3-all in the last of the third.

The Norsemen would briefly take the lead in the last of the fourth on a single by JACOB BARBA, which scored JONAH ST. CLAIR (infield single).

Monte Vista, however, would tie the game in the top of the fifth on a single by JON GULLEY, which scored ERNIE ARAMBULA (single).

In the bottom of the fifth, JOSEPH INGRASSIA single home Casper for the go-ahead run, making it 5-4.

The Norsemen would score two more in the rally on RBI singles by AUSTIN SCRIBNER  and St. Claire.

Smith would strike out six while allowing just one earned run.

Valhalla now leads third-place Monte Vista by two games in the Grossmont Valley League.

“We had our opportunities to win the game but in the end, we came up short,” Monte Vista coach CRAIG NEU said. “I give a lot of credit to Valhalla, they played better than us today.

Tanner Smith pitched really well for them. His sinker gave our hitters fits all day.

“We will shake this game off and bounce back on Friday.”

The teams meet again on Friday.


FOOTHILLS CHRISTIAN 5, MARANATHA CHRISTIAN 4 – The Knights won a big Pacific League game at Barona Diamond, turning away one of the fellow contenders for the league title.

Foothills Christian remained in first place, a half-game ahead of second-place Classical Academy.

Foothills Christian scored five runs in the bottom of the first after the Eagles jumped out to a 1-0 advantage in the top of the frame.

Senior TREVOR SMALLWOOD continues to lead the Knights, as this time, he drove in two in the first to re-take the lead, scoring junior JALANI BROWN and CORBIN HARRIS, who both singled.

Freshman JAKE BAPTISTA singled to left, plating Smallwood for a 4-1 edge.

Senior BAILEY LEWIS got the win, going 5 2/3 innings, striking out ten.

“Bailey Lewis pitched really well again,” Foothills Christian head coach DAVE LEWIS said. “We were shaky on defense which was disappointing since we had really been playing well in that part of the game.”

Senior CHRIS STALLARD pitched 1 1/3 innings for the save.

“Chris Stallard came in again and just dominated to nail it down,” Lewis said. “He has been unbelievable closing out games for us the second half of the season.”

Since joining the Knights in April, Stallard had four saves and a 0.47 ERA over 15 1/3 innings pitched.

“I felt good going into the game because I had a good feel for my slider in the bullpen and I knew I had a great defense behind me to back me up,” Stallard said.

Lewis, meanwhile, has struck out 58 batters in 46 innings.

“I feel like with Chris as my relief, we can shut down any team with just two pitchers,” Lewis said.

Foothills and Maranatha meet again on Wednesday, this time at the Eagles’ place.


MOUNT MIGUEL 6, EL CAJON VALLEY 1 – The Matadors earned their second Grossmont Valley League win of the season on Tuesday to distance themselves from the Braves as senior NICO CAMACHO pitched a complete game three-hitter.

Camacho struck out seven.

“Nico pitched well, worked fast, threw strikes, attacked the hitters and let his defense support him,” Mount Miguel head coach FRANK COIT said.

Sophomore ERIK KELLY had a sacrifice fly in the first inning for Mount Miguel.

Camacho gave the Matadors a 2-zip lead with a sac fly in the second.

Mount Miguel scored three runs in the fourth inning on another sacrifice fly by Camacho and a fielder’s choice RBI from JULIUS HARRIS.

“We had a good defensive day,” Coit said. “We only got 5 hits, but we squared up a lot of pitches, El Cajon just made the plays.

Senior ROBERT VERDUGO walked and scored the Braves’ run in the bottom of the fourth, which made it 5-1 at the time,

“El Cajon is much improved, (Braves head coach) CLIFTON (THOMAS) has that program going in the right direction, they are more athletic, and competing well at the plate.”

The Braves’ GREG SANCHEZ also went the distance, allowing five hits while striking out five.

“It’s tough, because our pitcher, Greg, did a great job keeping us in the game,” Thomas said. “This is one that we could’ve had. Mt. Miguel just played better than us today. They got the hits when they needed them, and made the plays that needed to be made.”

El Cajon Valley came up with only the one run after the first two hitters reached to lead off the fourth inning.

“We had opportunities with runners in scoring position and didn’t capitalize either,” Thomas said. “We have to find a way to put together a complete seven, and once we do, I think we’ll be just fine. I have faith in my boys, and we’re right there, I can feel it.”


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