East County Sports

Hillers, Highlanders on top of Hills


East County Sports staff report

SANTEE (3-30-2019) – Grossmont High powered back from a 5-0 deficit to knot Friday’s (Mar. 30) battle for first place in the Grossmont Valley League.

But when the Santana Sultans committed key errors in the 5th and 6th innings, the Foothillers were than happy to accept a 7-5 verdict to partially unlock a 3-way tie for the league lead.

The Hillers remain tied with Helix, which defeated Granite Hills.

Down 5-0 after allowing runs in each of the first three innings, Grossmont immediately reversed its fortunes and returned to even with a 5-run outburst in the 5t thanks to four singles, four walks and a hit batter.

But the late pair of unearned runs were a welcome gift from a ballclub which surprised many by going 2-0 to open GHL play.

“Santana is a really good team,” Grossmont head coach Jordan Abruzzo said. “I’m really proud of the way we battled back down 5-0.”

The go-ahead run came when James Odom singled, moving to third on a failed pickoff attempt. On the very next pitch, Giovanni Giganti singles for what proved to be the game-winning RBI.

“I was looking for a pitch up to elevate,” Giganti said. “They threw me a curveball and I was able to put a good swing on it and hit it into right field to help get ahead. It felt great having an opportunity to help the team out and get that go ahead run, especially against a team like Santana.”

From a Santana prospective, the Hillers run in the 6th was even uglier.
With one out, Brodie Romero has hit by a pitch. Then with two outs, he was balked to second, scoring when a ground ball off the bat of Danny Yanez was booted.

Early on, it was all Santana thanks to a series of doubles by Sean Iverson, Tyler Fitzgerald, Brandon Glowacki and Davin Burroughs. Iverson’s blow scored Brandon Glowacki to start the 3rd, then Fitzgerald’s double brought home both Iverson and Aidan Donovan for a 5-0 advantage. Both Glowacki and Donovan reached after getting hit by pitches.

“Wilcox was able to hit his spots and keep most some of us off balance,” Burroughs said. “He came through for his team and pitched a great game.”

Grossmont’s comeback started when Santana pitchers started to make mistakes.

“Wilcox left some balls up early but after we tied it he looked like a different guy,” Abruzzo said. “He locked in and finished the game.”

A single was sandwiched around a pair of walks to load the bases, then a third walk placed the Hillers on the scoreboard and a free RBI for Kaleb Tedokon. Anthony Mata followed with an RBI single.

Then with two outs, a third batter was plunked to re-load the bases. The trio would come home on run-scoring singles by Brodie Romero and sophomore Isaiah Gomez (2 RBI).

For the Hillers (10-5 overall, 3-1 GHL), Romero and Giganti recorded two hits each to support a complete-game, pitching effort of sophomore Jaden Wilcox, who shook off a shaky start bt closing with 4.1 innings of shutout ball.

Santana (7-7, 2-2 GHL) saw Burroughs and Fitzgerald collect two hits each.

HELIX 5, GRANITE HILLS 0:  At La Mesa, Highlanders pitcher Alonzo Richardson fired a 5-hit shutout and knocked in two runs, leading Helix to a 3-game sweep of the Eagles in GHL action on Friday (Mar.29).

Richardson struck out five batters and was aided by a pair of double plays, both started by shortstop Jordan Thompson.

“It’s never easy to beat a team three times within a season,” Helix senior Eric Semlko said. “It’s even tougher to beat a team three times within a week, especially a team like Granite Hills.”

Three runs in the 2nd inning were all the support Richardson needed.

A string of four consecutive base hits by Carlos Oquita, Jack Sothras, Noah Lane (RBI), and Carlos Michel (RBI) opened the scoring, then a grounder to the right side by Ayden Estrada produced a 3-0 cushion.

“I was pleased with my performance and my mentality to just get the next man up and most importantly I was able to contribute and help our team win,” Michel said. “The team’s effort was great as it’s been the whole season, we’ve had some tough losses which fuel us to work harder and compete to close out games.”

Michel and the Highlanders also shined defensively.

“Carlos Michel had a great game today,” Smelko said. “He made great plays at third and came up with a couple of timely hits. Carlos Oquita picked up a couple of our infielders by digging some balls out of the dirt.”

Helix added a pair of insurance runs in the 6th — Michel (2-for-3) and Richardson drove in the runs — then Richardson survived a two-out single and walk to record the final out for the triumph by the Scotties (8-6 overall, 3-1 GHL)

“We’re playing well as a team,” Richardson said. “Making plays on offense and defense against a good baseball team, it’s just another day at the office.”

Granite Hills (6-9, 0-4 GHL) first baseman Grant MacArthur posted three of the Eagles’ five hits.

“Alonzo had some good stuff today,” MacArthur said.”He pitched really well. He did a good job locating his fastball and mixing in off-speed pitches.

“I noticed early on that he wanted control of the outside part of the plate. So my goal was to take that away from him. I also didn’t want to get behind in the count so I attacked early. I think our team did a good job of squaring up pitches today but unfortunately, they didn’t fall.”

The Eagles are three games out of first just four games into the season.

“Helix is playing well right now,” Granite Hills head coach James Davis said. “They have their horses on the mound and when they are going well they are tough to beat.

“Only bright spot was MacArthur getting some hits the last few days.”

Clay Fordham started for the Eagles, going 4.1 innings.

“We need to hit better as a team,” Fordham said. “It’s frustrating to this point and Davis can only do so much as coach so we need to step up as players.

“Guys like MacArthur coming up and producing right away is what we need right now. At this point in time, you just hope that provides a little spark to our offense. 

“Grossmont’s a great team as everyone in our league is. We just have to bring more intensity and put it together because we can’t afford to fall down anymore.

Helix will face Santana next week in Grossmont Hills “Super League” play.

“Next week we are going to have to play really well against a good Santana team,” Smelko said. “We played well as a team today and our magic hasn’t run out yet.”

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