East County Sports

Monarchs win GMC division; Knights fall to unbeaten Eagles


East County Sports staff report

SPRING VALLEY (4-1-2019) – The Monte Vista Monarchs have been a streaky baseball club all season.

The Monarchs started the season winning just one of four games, then captured a few in a row before being saddled with a 3-game losing skid heading into Saturday (March 30), including two straight in league play.

Frankly, the players and coaches were tired of their slow starts, so they went out and did something about it.

The Monarchs jumped to a quick 6-0 after two innings, breezing to a comfortable 7-4 triumph over Southwest (San Diego) in the delayed championship game in their division of the GMC Tournament.

Relief pitcher Abraham Sanchez allowed just one run over an extended stint of 4.2 innings to earn the victory, striking out four Raiders batters without issuing a walk.

“We were due for a win,” Sanchez said. “And I feel like this win will flip the page for the season. Every time I go on the mound, I try my hardest to succeed. My go-to pitch today was my changeup.”

Meanwhile, Monte Vista produced a long-sought, prototypical offense: the top third of the batting order reached base, then the middle of the line-up knocked them in.

Indeed, it worked. The 1-2-3 batters — Cam Schuler, Ernie Arambula (3 runs), and Sanchez –combined to score five times.

“I made some good plays today,” said Arambula, a sophomore. “I was focusing on staying down on the ball and finishing.

“I was working the pitcher getting him deep in the count being patient waiting for my pitch to hit, and driving them up the middle.”

The 4-5-6 batters — Andy Canedo (2 RBI) Chris Leask (3 RBI), and Derrick Wiley — knocked in six runs.

Throw in hits by each of the Savoy brothers — Andrew and Jacob — well, you can’t much better balance than that.

“Great team win today,” Monte Vista head coach Craig Neu said. “Everyone came out energized and ready to play. We beat a very good Southwest team. Abe Sanchez pitched a great game.

“Chris “Bubba” Leask got a spot start at first base. The sophomore sparked us with a two-out, two-RBI single in the bottom of the first. His energy and effort were huge for us.

“Arambula made huge plays on defense. He was a difference maker today.”

Monte Vista moves to 8-7 overall for the season, including a sweep of Southwest. They defeated the Raiders in pool play, 2-1, and next host Otay Ranch on Tuesday before returning to Grossmont Valley League action with a home-and-home set with El Cajon Valley.

Southwest (11-5) scored three times in the 3rd before Sanchez (4-1) returned the call from the bullpen. Raiders cleanup hitter Adrian Sanchez led the offense with 2 RBI on 3-for-4 hitting plus a walk.

SOUTHWEST (El Centro) 12, FOOTHILLS CHRISTIAN 7:  Name the hottest ballclub in the CIF San Diego Section.

Unfortunately for the Knights, it’s “the other” Southwest High — the one located in El Centro.

The Eagles remained undefeated with their 13th unanswered victory, including Saturday’s (Mar. 30) non-league decision at Stars Field on the Barona Indian Reservation.

Not surprisingly, the ballgame was held at the highest-altitude (1,400 feet) ever for Southwest, which is located barely above sea level in the Imperial Valley, since the school opened in 1996.

However, the Knights gave the “other guys” a run after scoring five ties in the 1st before the Eagles countered with their own 5-spot to assume the lead for good at 8-5 in the 4th.

For Foothills Christian (3-12), both Cade Cabral and Max Merlan batted 2-for-4  while Cabral, Tyler Kennedy and Jack Wurts drove in runs.

We as a team and family, including coaches, are working very hard to turn this season around,” said Merlan, a transfer from Mater Dei Catholic. “We are a young team learning how to win while bringing up many new underclassmen this season. I expect a bright future, all we have to do is trust our process.

“It felt good playing my first game after my 30-day sit out after transferring. I felt like my performance at the plate and on the mound was okay. There’s always room for improvement.”

Cabral’s RBI came just two batters into the bottom of the 1st, when leadoff batter Jalani Brown was hit by a pitch, took third base on an error during a failed pick-off attempt, then Cabral registered an infield single to the hole at shortstop.

“It has been rough the last couple of weeks but it was good to get Max Merlan on the field with us who had a great game,” Cabral said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game against undefeated Southwest but we had a good first inning where we scored five runs.

“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to hold on to the lead but we did play them tough the whole game. I go up there looking for a pitch to drive and try to do my best for the team.”

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