East County Sports

ROUNDUP: Highlanders lead Eagles by half-game

Granite Hills leads off against El Capitan on Tuesday. / photo by Dani Tyler Hazelhurst



EastCountySports.com staff report


LA MESA – The biggest turn in the Grossmont Hills League pennant race didn’t necessarily take place on the field Tuesday afternoon.

Despite the significance of the first-place Helix Highlanders’ 8-2 victory over the Grossmont Foothillers, it was finally learned that the Highlanders and Santana Sultans would complete their game which has been listed as a 7-7 tie on the Grossmont Conference athletic website since the original completion of the game back on April 10.

The Scotties and Sultans will resume the game at 4 p.m. at the Highlanders’ field.

The resumption of the game is significant and keeps Grossmont’s hopes of a shared title alive.

For now, Helix (7-3 Grossmont Valley League, 19-8) leads second-place Granite Hills (7-4) by a half-game.

The Foothillers, despite the loss on Tuesday to fall to 6-5 (15-11-1 overall), get a bit of a championship reprieve, as they could still share the league title.

“Helix has a lot of good players and they are well-coached,” Grossmont head coach JORDAN ABRUZZO said. “Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. We have to get off the ground and go back to work. It doesn’t matter if we are the one-seed or the 12-seed we need to play better or we will have an early banquet.”

Helix’s THOMAS CANEDAY pitched five innings in the win over the Foothillers, allowing two hits and two runs while striking out three and walking one.

Helix senior BRANDON PETERSON had a two-run double in the bottom of the second for a 2-0 lead.

But the Foothillers answered in the top of the fourth as JESSE GARCIA and AUSTIN ODOM both singled and came around to score giving some real mid-game championship drama.

In the bottom of the inning, however, Helix regained the lead when senior AUSTIN KRETSCHMAR was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and one out.

Peterson followed with a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring JORDON THOMPSON (walk).

Helix’s ADAM MARTINEZ (2-for-3) singled home CARLOS OQUITA (HBP) to give Helix a 6-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth.

Highlander sophomore ALONZO RICHARDSON, along with Oquita, both were hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the last of the sixth, extending the lead to 8-2.

Richardson threw two scoreless innings in relief.

“Today was a great team win Thomas and Zo threw really well and Brando had a huge hit early for us,” Helix head coach COLE HOLLAND said. “They’re all big games at this point, which is what we always strive for, that being playing meaningful games late in the year.”

The Foothillers will host Santana on Thursday.


GRANITE HILLS 4, EL CAPITAN 1 – The Eagles won their third-straight Grossmont Hills League game by scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth to snap a 1-all tie in the upset bid of the visiting Vaqueros.

Granite Hills sophomore CLAY FORDHAM pitched a complete-game three-hitter to outshine the splendid effort of El Capitan freshman CONNOR CHRIST, who also went the distance.

Granite Hills sophomore CLAY FORDHAM is ready to deliver on Tuesday. / photo by Dani Tyler Hazelhurst

“I had a real good slider/changeup combo working,” said Fordham (4-3), who struck out seven. “I was working east and west effectively and was able to locate them for strikes more often than not.”

The Eagles (7-4 GHL, 15-10 overall) will travel to Helix on Thursday with a chance at the league banner. Whether or not Granite will be competing for an outright championship depends on the outcome of Wednesday’s conclusion of the tie game between the Highlanders and Santana.

Should Helix win, the Eagles would need to beat Helix to share the GHL patch. If the Sultans grab the win over the Scotties, then the game would be a winner-take-all league championship showdown.

“This win was huge,” Fordham said. “At this point in league, it’s do-or-die and every win becomes crucial. It’s awesome to be out here playing in such a tight race because you play for the thrill of the game. What more can you ask for.”

Granite’s SEAN MCGREW led off the sixth with a single and scored the go-ahead run after the Eagles loaded the bases with no one out.

McGrew also drove in the game’s first run with a single to left in the second inning scoring TK PARKER, who doubled to center.

Fordham followed McGrew’s sixth-inning hit with an RBI single, driving in TREVOR HAZELHURST (walk).

“Can’t say enough good things about how Fordham threw today,” Granite Hills coach JAMES DAVIS said. “He had all three pitches working for him. And we finally got some key hits late.”

Senior BLAKE PEYTON had two of the Vaqueros’ three hits, including an RBI single to right, scoring HUNTER MARKLE (walk).


STEELE CANYON 7, MONTE VISTA 6 – The Cougars improved to 11-3 in the Grossmont Valley League by securing at least a second-place finish by holding off the third-place visitors.

The Cougs scored six runs in the fifth inning to erase a 4-2 Monte Vista lead and went on for the Senior Day victory.

Senior RILEY MCCARTHY drove in the go-ahead run with a single to left scoring BILLY TELLOUS. Tellous walked with the bases loaded for the first run of the rally.

“Thanks to a couple of outfield dives by MATTHEW BRINKMEIER  and double plays by AARON TAYLOR and ANTHONY MATA, we came up with a good win for our Senior Night. Great way to end a tough season.”

Senior JOSH ESQUIBEL added a sac fly that made it 4-3 as the comeback started for Steele.

Steele Canyon senior TREVOR BACK won his sixth game of the season and JONATHAN KENNEY came on for his first save, getting the final two hitters after the Monarchs had closed to within a run with a pair in the seventh.

“My seniors made memories today,” Steele Canyon coach JESSE EVANS said. “I’m really proud of the way they’ve matured.  I’m just glad to be a part of it.

 “Thanks to another amazing start by Trevor Back holding them down for the first couple innings.

“Got a little tough on defense but thanks to a couple of outfield dives by MATTHREW BRINKMEIER and double plays by AARON TAYLOR and ANTHONY MATA Arron Taylor and Anthony Mata, we came up with a good win for our Senior Night. Great way to end a tough season.”

Monte Vista senior ISAAC GONZALEZ had an RBI double to score ANDY CANEDO to make it 3-0 in the top of the second.

Canedo singled to score IVAN PLAZOLA (HBP) for the first run of the three-run frame.

In the top of the seventh, Canedo was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make it 7-5, then senior ZACH MANUEL drew a bases-loaded walk.

Kenney then came in to get the final two hitters on a fly out and a line out.

“I am very thankful for the opportunity to come in and save the game on such a special night for our seniors,” Kenney said. “It felt great to get the win for my team. My pitch of choice for this situation was my fastball as I was confident in my ability to locate my pitch and having the great support of my defense behind me.”

Monarch freshman ERNIE ARAMBULA pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief.

Monte Vista (9-5, 18-10) will travel to face Valhalla on Thursday. The Monarchs, currently seeded fifth in the upcoming Division IV playoffs, could earn a top-four seed with a win over the Norsemen, who are expected to wrap up the outright title on Wednesday afternoon.

“We out hit Steele Canyon, which is tough to do,” Monte Vista coach CRAIG NEU said. “We have to put this game behind us and focus on Valhalla. We have a big game in front of us on Thursday. We will give it our best shot. We will be ready to play.”

Monte Vista will start Canedo, a freshman who has a 1.27 ERA in 11 relief appearances this season, against Valhalla for his first varsity start.

“(Canedo) has been great all year out of the ‘pen,” Neu said. “I want to see how he handles the pressure of starting a game. We may need him to start a game in the playoffs.”

The Cougars close the regular season at West Hills on Thursday.


WEST HILLS 6, MOUNT MIGUEL 1 – West Hills High pitcher Peyton Honick continued the ballclub’s trend of strong performances on the mound, while the offense got back to basics to score in every inning, propelling the Wolf Pack past visiting Mount Miguel, 6-1, in Tuesday’s (May 15) Grossmont Valley League ballgame.

Honick spun a 4-hitter to top the Matadors, striking out four batters while staying ahead of opposing batters all afternoon.

“If Peyton didn’t get a strike on the first pitch, we got it on the second pitch,” said West Hills head coach Mickey Deutschman. “If he went 2-0, those were the four batters who got hits off him. It was the kind of performance we’ve come to expect from him.”

Aided by single runs by West Hills, nearly all by the leadoff batter, Honcik welcomed the support, even in “sticks and stones” fashion.

“I’ll take all of the offense I can to support me,” said Honick, a junior, who made his bid to be the No. starter for the Pack entering next season. “I came in throwing strikes, hitting my spots.”

Meanwhile, West Hills saw the leadoff batter reach base in each of the first five innings — twice by Chris “Larry” Schroeder and Joe Thrailkill — scoring each time.

The lead batter in the sixth inning also reached base but was cut down at the plate on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice. However, Honick, batting second, reached on an error and eventually scored to post aces in each frame.

Schroeder reached on a walk in open the first, then a triple in the third. He scored on a Devin Bevilacqua line single, then a base hit to center by Kacey Payson for his second RBI of the season.

Meanwhile, Thrailkill reached in the second and fourth with base hits, then stole second base each time. The shortstop came home on a wild pitch.

The other West Hills run came in the fifth, when Payson on a single, later third base, then scoring on an infield chopper to shortstop by Andrew Ritayik, who beat the throw to first base.

In the sixth, Bevilacqua registered his second RBI on a sacrifice fly which was dropped for an error.

Thrailkill and Payson finished with two hits each.

The lone Mount Miguel run also came via a sac fly in the fifth. when Austin Ortiz lifted the ball to center field. The out allowed Cameron Beauzec, the Matadors starting pitcher (5 Ks in 5+ IP, to score after he was balked to third base.

On Thursday (May 17), West Hills (10-17 overall, 6-8 GVL) caps the season with a Senior Day home game with Steele Canyon. Mount Miguel (6-20, 3-11 GVL) also closes at home, entertaining El Cajon Valley.


CHRISTIAN 14, PATRICK HENRY 3 – The Christian Patriots took out their Western League frustrations in a win over the visiting Patrick Henry Patriots in Christian High’s regular-season finale.

Christian High was hungry to snap an eight-game losing streak before heading into the Division 1 postseason playoffs.

“I think we are a pretty battle-tested team and it was nice to reap the benefits of the game today,” Christian High head coach MIKE MITCHELL said. “It was a good steppingstone into the playoffs and we’re looking forward to keeping today’s hot streak going.”

Christian High (11-6) scored four runs in the first, but Patrick Henry answered with three in the top of the second.

Christian High, however, scored seven runs in the second inning, highlighted by senior BRAD JEREMIAH’s two-run single to left, scoring MATT ARMIJO and CONNOR OHTON, who both had RBI singles to get the scoring carousel moving once again.

Seniors JAKOB BECK and GARRET NIELSEN also drove in runs with singles.

Christian High senior LUKE RYNKOFS pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings after taking over with two-out in the first. He allowed one hit and two walks.


FOOTHILLS CHRISTIAN 7, ESCONDIDO CHARTER 1 – The Knights are finishing strong, grabbing another Pacific League win on Senior Day at Barona Field on Tuesday.

Senior TREVOR SMALLWOOD pitched another complete game for the Knights, striking out eight and walking one.

Smallwood improved to 6-3 and lowered his earned run average to 1.68.

Senior BAILEY LEWIS smashed a pair of long doubles for FCHS (5-2 Pacific, 18-10), which is in second place in the league standings with one game to play.

“Great team win,” Foothills Christian head coach DAVE LEWIS said.

The White Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but Lewis’ first double of the game tied the score, driving in CORBIN HARRIS, who tripled to right.

Smallwood gave the Knights the lead with a fielder’s choice groundout, scoring JALANI BROWN.

The Knights scored four runs in the fourth when CADE CABRAL had a sac fly to score PRESTON SACCONE (walk), then Brown drove in senior CHRIS STALLARD with a double to left.

“He had many off-speed pitches so I had to leave those alone and aim for his fastballs,” Brown said. “So I took one that I saw was good and drove it.”

TYLER KENNEDY doubled to left, scoring Lewis (double) for a 6-1 lead.

“I was up there looking for a pitch to drive and he finally gave me a fastball down the middle and I swung out of my shoes at it,” Kennedy said.

The Knights close out the season at Escondido Charter on Thursday.

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