East County Sports

ROUNDUP: Eagles pass biggest test

2018 EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL

 

EastCountySports.com staff report

 

EL CAJON – The Granite Hills Eagles picked up their signature win of the season on Thursday afternoon and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Granite Hills remained in the thick of the razor-close Grossmont Hills League pennant race with an 8-4 win over the visiting Helix Highlanders.

The victory allowed the Eagles (4-3) to move just one-half game behind the seventh-ranked Highlanders (4-2-1) in the standings, tied for second place with Grossmont, which also won on Thursday.

Helix took a 3-0 lead right out of the chute, but Granite Hills seniors BRADLEY HARRIS and TREVOR HAZELHURST hit home runs to help the Eagles erase the early deficit.

Hazelhurst hit a line drive two-run home run to right field in the bottom of the first inning and ended up pitching 5 1/3 innings for the victory on the hill after settling down following the rough first.

“My stuff wasn’t working as well as usual especially the first inning,” Hazelhurst said. “Davis just said keep the shoulders tucked and everything will flow smoothly so that’s what i did and managed to put down zeros on the board.”

Harris and teammate CLAY FORDHAM each drove in a run with a base hit in the bottom of the third, as the Eagles took a 4-3 lead.

“We have lost some tough ones but it was a good game today,” Granite Hills head coach JAMES DAVIS said. “Our hitters really did a good job today. Once Hazel settled in, he did a nice job.”

Harris hit his line shot over the fence in left in the bottom of the fourth for a two-run home run, putting Granite up 7-3.

“I just saw a good pitch to drive and I didn’t miss it,” Harris said. “Helix is a good team, and we were able to come away with a solid win. We need to continue to play like we did today to be successful.”

In the first inning, the Scotties scored three runs, two of them coming on bases-loaded walks, followed by a sacrifice fly by JORDON THOMPSON.

Senior JAKE FENN went 3-for-3 for Granite Hills. He also had an RBI single in the fifth to make it 8-3.

“It felt awesome,” Fenn said of the victory. “It was it a great team win.”

In the biggest game of the year, Hazelhurst won his second game of the season and hit his second home run.

“Hazlehurst is a great player and once he settled in and threw strikes we knew it was going to be a tough matchup,” said Helix’s ZACK OWENS, who walked twice, including a first-inning RBI base-on-balls.”We didn’t put enough good ABs together to pull out the win. Great thing is we get another crack at then tomorrow.”

Fenn entered the game in the seventh inning to close out the game for a save. He coaxed a 3-6 double-play grounder and ended the game with a strikeout after the Highlanders put the first two men aboard with a walk and a single.

Helix sophomore ALONZO RICHARDSON had an RBI single in the top of the sixth, making it 8-4, but Fordham came on record a strikeout to get out of a two-on jam.

Granite Hills coach JAMES DAVIS has found success with his triumvirate rotation of deadly door slammers in Hazelhurst, Fordham, and Fenn.

“It’s awesome pitching along in that crew,” said Fordham, a sophomore. “Us pitchers have all grown a lot since the start of the season. We all bond and learn from each other. It’s an honor to compete with them being seniors and me being a sophomore. They’ve helped me a lot as far as confidence and pitching with them two having more experience.”

The Highlanders sent four to the mound but the Eagles found success against all of them.

“Every game in the league is going to be a tough one,” Owens said of the country’s sixth-toughest league. “Once you get into league play you can throw everyone’s records away because every team is going to give you their best shot every week.

The teams come right back again on Friday to face off in La Mesa that is sure to have a Game of the Year feel despite several key contests ahead for both clubs and the other contenders.

“We just didn’t compete very well on the mound today,” Helix head coach COLE HOLLAND said. “We shook off way too many pitches and gave up too many two-strike hits for RBIs.

“We also have to do a better job of scoring runs in the middle innings to take some pressure off those guys.”

 

GROSSMONT 7, SANTANA 2 – The visiting Foothillers shut down the Sultans’ championship challenge in the other big Hills tilt on Thursday by scoring six runs in the third inning to erase an early 2-0 deficit.

The game represented Santana’s most-impactful chance to remain in serious title contention.

Instead, tenth-ranked Grossmont moved to 4-3 (13-9 overall) to remain tied for second place in the ultra-competitive GHL.

“Today was fun,” said Grossmont assistant coach MATT ATKINSON, who was skippering the Foothillers in the absence of head coach JORDAN ABRUZZO on Thursday. “Jordan always has our guys prepared to play hard. This is a great group of guys to be around.

Santana seniors TYLER SARGENT and TRISTAN TAYLOR had back-to-back squeeze bunts in the first inning following hits by BEN HART and TYLER GLOWACKI, and a walk to JOSH OEDEWALDT.

Grossmont got in back and then some in the third, as senior AUSTIN ODOM knocked in the first of the half-dozen with a sacrifice fly to left, scoring senior JASE RUSSELL (walk).

Senior TYLER PARENT singled on a 1-2 count, scoring juniors JAMES BOND and KEONI VALDEZ, both of whom singled.

“My two RBI were all thanks to my teammates for getting on base,” Parent said. “They gave me a chance to cash in the runs.

“Playing under coach Atkinson was just the same as coach Abruzzo. We have a great set of coaches here at Grossmont, so anyone can fill in at any given time.”

Senior CHRIS GIOVENGO then drove in two when he went first-pitch swinging, sending a fly ball to right that landed for a single, scoring senior JESSE GARCIA (walk) and Parent.

Junior ZAK FARRIS singled to right on a 1-2 count to cap the rally, driving in Giovengo

Junior DREW SHIRVANIAN was stellar against the Sultans in relief of senior starter JOE WILLIAMS.

“Joe and Drew came out and pounded the strike zone and gave us a chance to win,” Atkinson said.

Shirvanian allowed no hits over four innings while striking out nine Sultans. He did mix in four walks but otherwise was in command of the situation, thanks to the guidance of assistant coach MAT ATKINSON, who was in charge for the Hillers on Thursday with head coach JORDAN ABRUZZO missing the game.

“Overall, the team did amazing defensively and offensively,” Shirvanian said. “I felt very confident with coach Mat being the coach today. He was calling the pitches great today. Every once in awhile, I had my team get the out and we were able to not let them score.”

Grossmont and Santana play again on Friday afternoon with the Sultans needing some serious upset plans to stay in title contention.

“We have to find a way to stay out of the big inning,” Santana head coach RIGO LEDEZMA said. “Grossmont is a good team and they played well today.”

 

EL CAPITAN 8, VALLEY CENTER 4 – The Vaqueros scored four runs in the top of the first inning and four runs in the top of the ninth inning to win the non-league game at Valley Center, which has just three wins this season.

It was nearly flirting with postseason disaster for El Capitan, which is lingering just inside the Division II playoff bubble.

Junior AUSTIN BELL and senior ANTONIO OLIVIERI both drove in three runs for the Vaqueros.

Bell got things rolling for El Capitan in the first inning with a two-run double, then Olivieri hit a home run to right, giving the Vaqueros their four-sport.

Valley Center answered and scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning, then tied the game in the second.

From there, both teams strung together some outstanding pitching, as there was no scoring for the next seven frames, as the game went into extras.

Senior BLAKE PEYTON doubled on a 1-1 pitch to left field in the top of the ninth, scoring senior STEVIE MONTEJANO (3-for-5), who had a one-out single.

Bell had an RBI groundout, then Oliverie singled home the third run of the ninth.

Junior KEVIN ALLISON was credited with the win after throwing two innings, allowing no hits, striking out two and walking none.

Senior ANTHONY BENEDETTO pitched a scoreless ninth for El Capitan (8-14)

Senior SHAYNE CUNNINGHAM started the game for El Capitan and settled down, going six innings.

 

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