East County Sports

Foothillers back to D1 final; Sultans out

Grossmont senior TYLER PARENT drives the ball on Wednesday against Carlsbad.


Grossmont junior ZAK FARRIS makes contact against Carlsbad on Wednesday.

EastCountySports.com staff report


LA MESA – By the end of the fifth inning on Wednesday, the Grossmont Foothillers had long forgotten any trepidation that may have built up after being shutout by the Carlsbad Lancers over the first four frames of their San Diego CIF Division I semifinal contest at Gizoni Field.

The Foothilllers’ fans may have felt a bit uptight, as well, but this Grossmont High team will get a chance to etch their name into team lore when they return to the San Diego CIF Division I championship on Saturday at 7 at the University of San Diego to defend their section title after scoring 13 runs in the bottom of the fifth in a 15-3 victory.

For the record, second-seeded Grossmont (19-12-1) beat Carlsbad (15-18), the ten-seed, on back-to-back days by a combined score of 24-3. The hot-hitting Hillers bashed out 27 hits over the two games.

Grossmont senior stars AUSTIN ODOM and JESSE GARCIA both drove in five runs. All of Garcia’s RBIs came in the big inning, including his 10th home run of the season, which gave the Hillers a 13-3 lead.

The Lancers scored a run in the first and added two more in the fourth in support of starter Jake Larimer, who had a shutout through four innings.

However, the Foothillers opened the last of the fifth with four consecutive hits, including a line double to center by Odom to get Grossmont on the board at 3-2.

Grossmont scores a run against Carlsbad in the fifth inning on Wednesday,

After an error tied the game at three-all, Garcia smashed a double down the left field line past the diving third baseman on a 3-2 pitch, scoring Odom and GIO GIGANTI, putting the Hillers on top by two.

Seniors CHRIS GIOVENGO (2-for3) and TYLER PARENT (2-for-4) drove in a run to extend the rally, then Odom drove in his third run of the inning for a 10-3 score.

One out later, Garcia hit his soul-crushing blast.

“I honestly feel honored to have the chance at another CIF championship,” Garcia said. “I feel blessed to have these experiences with a great group of guys and great coaches. It feels like a family and I will miss everyone. I am eager to get out there and finish up my senior season with my family”

Odom added a two-run single in the sixth to account for his RBI total.

“it was a great team win again today,” Odom said. “Everybody contributed. We strung some great at-bats together to get going in the fifth. This season has been great and I can’t wait to play one last one on Friday with my team.”

Parent pitched three scoreless innings in relief to earn the victory, walking none and striking out two.

Grossmont senior JASE RUSSELL got three hits and scored three runs, while freshman ISAIAH GOMEZ continued his post-season production with two hits, two runs and an RBI.

Larimer singled in the first for the Lancers, giving them the first run.

Grossmont will face the Madison Warhawks, last year’s Open Division runner-up, in the championship game.

Grossmont senior JASE RUSSELL at the plate on Wednesday.

Madison, a preseason top-ten team which fell out of the rankings early and hardly made a return to the media poll, defeated Grossmont, 9-0, in the Bill Dickens Grossmont-Metro-City Tournament on March 21 behind a four-hitter from junior Spencer Lass, beating Hiller junior ace JACK HYDE.

The Foothillers will be shooting for the program’s 13th all-time section baseball championship.

Grossmont had Cathedral Catholic currently have the most baseball titles with 12-apiece.

Grossmont will be making its 18th section championship game appearance.

The Foothillers won the D1 crown last season with an 8-3 win over Francis Parker at USD, the site of Saturday’s final once again.

Grossmont won back-to-back championships in 2013-14 under head coach CHAD WILLIAMS. The Hillers defeated Valhalla, 6-4, in the ’14 final, giving Grossmont a moniker as Team of the Century with its then-eighth section title since 2000.


MADISON 2, SANTANA 1 – The Sultans had two shots at a title game berth, but the battle-tested Warhawks won a pair of one-run games at home, including Wednesday’s tense semifinal contest.

Santana senior T.C. SIMMONS returned to the hill after his stellar previous outing and gave his teammates a sure chance to grab the ring to the finals, spinning four innings, as the Warhawks led 1-0 after five.

“Definitely a tough one to swallow,” said Simmons, who plans to continue his playing career at Grossmont College. “I didn’t have my best stuff today but our defense played great defensively and definitley kept us in the ballgame. Today, we just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed to.

“We had an amazing year and couldn’t be more proud of the coaches and the boys. We came up one game short and it’s going to stick for awhile.”

The Sultans dramatically tied the game in the top of the sixth when senior LANDON WOOD, who took over in the fifth on the mound, singled home senior JAKE SARGENT (walk) with a liner ro right-center field.

Senior TRISTAN TAYLOR singled to put another man aboard, but Madison veteran starter James Shimishita worked out of the threat.

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Madison senior star David Lantz hit just the team’s second home run of the season, lifting a ball over the left field fence for the decisive run.

Warhawk sophomore Christian Becerra retired the Sultans 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh for the save.

Santana was the last-seed in the San Diego Section Division I playoffs, guaranteed a postseason berth because of that upper-division placement.

The Sultans fell just a pair of one-run games short of reaching its second-straight section title game after making the Division II final in 2017, falling to San Marcos.

“This game is just going to fire up the guys for next year to have a better season,” Simmons said. “The coaches were very proud of us and how much we competed. They said this was a special group and said this game is going to make us tougher with the example the seniors set for next year.”

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