ROUNDUP: Helix, Pats, El Cap, Valhalla, Hillers win

Mountain Empire's Trevor Elliott at the plate on Wednesday.

2019 EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL

East County Sports staff report

CLAIREMONT MESA (3-14-2019) – Some people point out that everything that’s gone backward for the Helix Highlanders this season was created by Madison after the Warhawks whipped in the Scotties on Opening Day.

So Helix was desperately determined to avenge that defeat and turn the season around — and they found a way in Wednesday’s (Mar. 13) GMC Tournament contest.

Senior first baseman Carlos Oquita pounded a 2-run, go-ahead home run in the 4th inning, while Eric Smelko also collected two RBI by batting 3-for-4, powering the Highlanders to a 6-1 verdict over Madison.

“We needed that big hit and Carlos Oquita had that hit for us,” Smelko said. “That home run really boosted us and kept us going.”

One pitch after Alonzo Richardson opened the 4th after being awarded base on catcher’s interference, Qquita pulled the ball over the left-field fence for a 3-1 advantage.

“It was honestly a tough pitch to hit out of the park as it was almost in the dirt but I swung with the intention to do some damage and that was the result,” Oquita said. “Coach (Cole Holland) has been talking to us about getting that big hit all season and I was able to come through for the team.

“It has definitely been tough for the team as we have been struggling to hit.

An inning later, anther Helix No. 9 batter reached as Carlos Michel walked.

Pinch runner Ayden Estrada took second on a failed pickoff attempt, then came home on a base hit by Jack Sothras.

“Today I was able to get the big hit to get us going and tomorrow someone else is going to get it,” Oquita said. “If we play with the same mentality and energy we should be fine.”

Smelko, the catcher, batted 3-for-4.

“Adam Lavato made a great play,” Smelko said. “He got a really good read and I had great contact. The Madison pitcher really hit his spots and I have to give credit to him.”

The rally started when yet another Helix leadoff batter reached, as Justin Cervantes walked. Michel bunted but reached on an error, with both advancing into scoring position

Meanwhile, Richardson and Noah Lane combined to pitch a 5-hitter for Helix.

Richardson struck out three over his six innings. Because of Helix’s runs in the 7th, Lane did not gain the save out of the bullpen, yet was again effective.

“Alonzo did a great job on the mound today and Carlos Michel did an outstanding job at third,” Smelko said.

The Scotties are now 3-5 overall. For the Warhawks (5-5), sophomore Victor Arreola drove in their lone run.

“Coach Holland has done a lot for me and I appreciate what he has done,” Smelko said. “I’m really excited to see what we can do and if we can move forward from this win.”

CHRISTIAN 2, FRANCIS PARKER 1: At Linda Vista, Patriots pitcher Braeden Ross knocked in the game’s first run and pitched six strong innings to gain a road victory over the Lancers to complete GMC Tournament play on Wednesday (Mar. 13).

“It was the first time this year he was extended and he did an unbelievable job,” Christian coach Bryan Mitchell said. “He wanted to finish it but just ran out of gas in the 7th. He was able to make some big pitches in big spots to give us a chance.”

The Patriots (5-5) snapped a mild 2-game losing streak to again reach the .500 plateau. Francis Parker, once 6-1, fell for the fourth straight outing to drop to 6-5 overall.

Ross and Peyton Berroth registered consecutive RBI singles in the 4th for a 2-0 lead. Later, Ross allowed a lead walk in the 7th, so Trace Ramos came in to pitch.

“Trace came in and was great,” Mitchell said. “He was able to work around a leadoff walk and finish the game for us. We’ve come to expect that type of outing from both of those guys.”

Ramos was immediately aided by reserve catcher Matt Souza, who nailed a Francis Parker runner — who represented the game-tying run — attempting to steal second base.

“I think the offense did a great job today getting some clutch hits at the right time,” Ramos said. “Braeden pitched his butt off. He got 18 outs against a team that was in the conversation for being top ten at the beginning of the year.

“I came in with the mindset of finishing off what Braeden worked so hard to get. Overall, I think it was a great team win and it really gave us the momentum that we needed to move forward.

Souza, a junior, entered as a late-inning substitute registering a pinch-hit single in the 6th. He then showed off his arm — he’s also a pitcher — for the critical out to help Berroth garner the save.

In the 4th, the first two Patriots batter reached base, as Carson Stroman walked, then Mike Pohle reached on a dropped popup in the glare of San Diego’s first sunny day in seemingly weeks. Both advanced into scoring position when Isaiah Owens grounded the ball, softball-style, to right side.

Ross followed with a basehit toward first base to score Stroman.

With runners now on the corners, Ross stole second base, but when the ball went through the infield, Pohle completed the double steal by racing home.

The play, along with the back-up catcher later entering the , may have influenced the Lancers’ (failed) decision to steal in the 7th.

“The most important thing for this game was getting a win,” Ross said. “We have been getting great pitching performances from our guys but could never pull out a close win. It was nice to nail this one down for sure.

“I took it as a challenge to go up against Ryan Sanborn, Parker’s starting pitcher, who is a Stanford football commit and a great athlete. My defense really stepped up today and made every play behind me. Hopefully, we can build some momentum from this.”

Leadoff man Matt Armijo had a double for Christian to start the game.

“It was just one of my favorite pitches middle up and away,” Armijo said “I like to jump on the first pitch fastball so I took a swing and It was right there. It really felt great to pump the team up and lead off on a positive note. And Coach (Mike Mitchell) has contributed so much to us and this recovery period for him has motivated us to play for him and not for ourselves.”

Mitchel was hospitalized earlier in the week.

EL CAPITAN 5, POINT LOMA 3: At Hostetler Field in Lakeside, the Vaqueros were already walking n eggshells after recently snapping a 6-game losing streak, but were now trailing the visiting Pointers by an early 3-0 margin.

However, head coach Jonathan Meyer received an enormous response when his troops answered with five runs in the 4th to take Wednesday’s (Mar. 13) GMC Tournament triumph.

Jake Pfitzner jacked a game-tying, 3-run homer into the El Cap student parking lot. Later, right fielder Wes Buckner, who batted 3-for-3. singled in a pair of go-ahead runs, although he was out attempting to take an extra base.

Meanwhile, Vaqueros pitcher Connor Crist struck out 8 in his second straight, complete-game performance.

For El Capitan (3-6), leadoff batter Larry Snow III went 2-for-with a run scored.

Point Loma (5-4-1) also received twos leadoff batter, Ben Berry, along with Hayden Tregidga.

VALHALLA 4, LA JOLLA 1: At Rancho San Diego, in a battle between schools with an interesting historical connection, the pitching tandem of Anthony Young and Andy Boyd combined on a 4-hitter to vanquish the Vikings in Wednesday’s (Mar. 13) GMC Tournament ballgame.

Young struck out 6 batters over his five innings. Boyd tossed the final two frames to garner the save

Valhalla struck early to mount a 3-0 cushion.

In the 2nd inning, Kyle Casper lined a lead single to left. Trey Henige placed a sacrifice bunt, but Casper shocked La Jolla by taking two bases to wind up at third base. Two batters later, an error allowed Casper to score.

An inning later, the hosts made the plays of both defense and offense.

First, Young was able to catch a shallow bunt that was popped up, firing the ball to first base to double up the base runner. According to the scorebook, however, it was right fielder Trey Henige who hustled to catch the ball at the bag for the second out.

In the home-half of the frame, Trey Henige center field, cleanup batter Riley O’Sullivan walked, then Casper doubled to bring home both runners to take a 3-0 lead.

For Valhalla (7-2), Ingrassia and Casper each registered two of ballclubs’ seven hits. La Jolla (5-4) saw Devin Brown bat 2-for-3 with a run scored.

As for local lore about the schools, when the Grossmont Union High School District approved the construction of Valhalla in the early 1970s, somehow, the school determined its nickname would be the Valhalla Vikings. In fact, they even asked the school in upper New York state from the town of Valhalla for permission to mirror the use of the nickname.

However, students from La Jolla High appealed at a GUHSD board meeting, requesting (demanding?) for the school to switch before the grand opening, seeking to remain the only CIF San Diego Section school to be called Vikings.

School officials told the district that funds had already been spent on sports gear, like decals for football helmets, with a Vikings logo — thus, the creation of “Norsemen,” the only other similar moniker anyone could think of.

The irony occurred during the 1980-81 school year when Holtville High left the CIF Southern Section and joined the San Diego Section. Holtville (founded in 1929) is also the Vikings.

GROSSMONT 4, SCRIPPS RANCH 1: At Scripps Ranch, Hillers pitcher Jack Hyde fired a 4-hit shutout in six innings of work, while Brodie Romero ended a pitcher’s duel with an RBI single in the 6th inning, lifting Grossmont to Wednesday’s (Mar. 13) GMC Tournament victory.

“Jack was phenomenal again today.,” Grossmont head coach Jordan Abruzzo said. “I’m most impressed by his poise. Nothing phases him.

“If we make an error, he picks up his teammates. I’m just going to try and enjoy him the rest of his senior year because kids like Jack don’t come around often. He is just a great leader and teammate.”

Hyde finished with 10 strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 0.30 (1 earned in 23.0 innings).

“My slider was a real wipeout pitch today and I was able to locate it very well,” Hyde said. “Still, my mindset was to let my defense work and to just pound the strike zone. Fastball was moving a little bit, as well, and changing speeds was very effective. As always, my offense came through in the end to supply the runs and seal the victory.”

Jaden Wilcox, entering with a 4-0 lead, closed out the triumph but did not qualify for the save.

Zakary Farris opened the 6th by getting hit by a pitch, scoring the ballgame’s initial run on consecutive base hits by Isaiah Gomez and Romero.

Romero knocked in two additions runs in the 7th, capping the second baseman’s 2-for-3, 3 RBI outing.

“The opposing pitchers pitched very well,” Romero said. “They it kept it down in the zone, changing their pitch selection, and I was fortunate enough to being able to get my timing down and waiting for the right pitch to get a hold of to drive in my teammates for extra support for Jack Hyde.”

ST. AUGUSTINE 4, GRANITE HILLS 0: At Hickman Field, Saints pitchers Mark Lusti and Jacob Odle combined on a 3-hut shutout of the Eagles (6-4).
Lush struck out 6 batters over 6 innings; Odle allowed but struck out the other three batters he faced in this GMC Tournament game.

Fisher Pyatt hit a two-out solo home run in the 1st, then recorded another RBI when St. Augustine scored twice in the 5th.

Granite Hills’ best chance to score came in the 2nd when Noa Ponciano doubled. Unfortunately, the Eagles runner at first base was caught stealing three pitches earlier.

“We are really struggling with the bat right now,” Granite Hills head coach James Davis said. “We will figure it out. Our pitching has been keeping us in games.”

The Eagles’ Clay Fordham had a hit and a walk at the plate, then also took the mound to pitch 1 2/3 scoreless frames.

“It was a combination of things,” Fordham said of the loss. “Days like these aren’t enjoyable. When you want to make a statement and prove you’re a top team, it’s frustrating.

“Their guy today was good. He was able to accommodate a really good changeup to a fastball with good life. He was good but we needed to make adjustments and it just didn’t happen. Over the next week, we’ll put in a lot of work to do our best to ensure that this won’t occur again.”

Austin Smith started, but the Saints scored a run in the first and another in the third.

“Today wasn’t our best game,” Smith said. “They were just more ready than us. I Missed my spot on two of my pitches and they took advantage of it.”

SAN YSIDRO 6, FOOTHILLS CHRISTIAN 3: At San Ysidro, the visiting Knights erupted for three runs in the 1st inning, but the rest of the ballgame belonged to the Cougars.

Corbin Harris singled home Jalani Brown to get on the scoreboard just three batters into the contest. Harris then scored on a double by Jack Wurts, who went 2-for-3 with an RBI for Foothills Christian (2-8).

CATHEDRAL CATHOLIC 4, SANTANA 3: At Carmel Valley, the Sultans trailed 2-0 before tallying three times in the 3rd inning, only to still fall to the Dons at Manchester Field.

Santana (3-5) got even on a pair of bunt singles by Tyler Glowacki and Cole Contreras, scoring Elijah Reber (leadoff walk) and Davin Burroughs (single).

MIRA MESA 13, STEELE CANYON 7: At Rancho San Diego, the visiting Marauders, leading 5-3, broke the game open by getting six runs in the 5th inning to conquer the Cougars. Mira Mesa finished with 20 base hits, including four singles by Gabriel Jones to drive in four runs.

For Steele Canyon, Aaron Taylor batted 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI triple.

“We regroup tomorrow,” Taylor said. “Learn from our mistakes, play as brothers and make it happen next game. Today, we just weren’t playing with full effort. We will grow from this loss.”

Cade Stein batted 2-for-2 with a pair of RBI. Both are seniors.

“Today’s loss really hurt so we are ready to hit practice hard tomorrow,” Stein said. “I was very happy about the RBIs I had today and I was happy that I made all the plays hit to me to help my pitcher out.”

CALVIN CHRISTIAN 6, MOUNTAIN EMPIRE 2 – Trevor Elliot threw five strong innings, striking out 10 batters for the RedHawks, while teammate Sean Hodge went 1-for-22 with an RBI. 

Sam Jones got the only other hit for MEHS and Noland got the other RBI on a sac fly.

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