East County Sports

Monarchs, Knights in Lions 5A semifinals





East County Sports staff report

SPRING VALLEY (4-17-2019) – Foothills Christian and Monte Vista high schools both advanced to Thursday’s 5A Division semifinals of the 69th annual Lions Tournament by posting victories to finish in first place in their respective pools.

Foothills Christian out-lasted Olympian, 12-11, while Monte Vista advanced by out-pacing Walnut, 9-3.

In the championship round, with all three contests to be played at Monte Vista, the Monarchs will entertain Escondido at 9:30 a.m., then the Knights will meet McClatchy at 12:30 p.m.

The 5A Division title contest will follow at 3:30 p.m. with the potential of an all-East County matchup.

MONTE VISTA 9, WALNUT 3: At eastern Spring Valley, if you’re the Monarchs, would you rather have your pitcher allow three runs on no hits, or the other way around, yielding no runs on three hits.

After the Monte Vista starter couldn’t find the strike zone, reliever Carlos Esparza stepped in delivered six solid innings from out of the bullpen, leading the Monarchs to the Division 5A semifinals of the Lions Tournament.

Esparza entered with the score level at 3-all, he escaped a bases-loaded jam in the 2nd inning by registering all three outs.

And while Esparza maintained his shutout performance over the balance of the contest, Monte Vista rewarded him by tallying six unanswered runs to complete a 3-0 run through pool play.

Derrick Wiley belted a 2-run homer for a 3-2 lead in the 1st before the Walnut Mustangs got even on a series of walks. However, Monte Vista immediately answered with a two-out rally.

Ernie Arambula and Andy Canedo smacked consecutive doubles for the lead, then a dropped fly ball allowed Canedo to score for a 5-3 advantage.

For Monte Vista (14-9), Arambula batted 4-for-4 and scored each time, while Canedo finished with three RBI, one short of his season high.

Walnut (12-11) received a hit and an RBI from first baseman Aaron Rubio.

FOOTHILLS CHRISTIAN 12, OLYMPIAN 11: At Stars Field at Barona, exactly a month after the Eagles posted an 8-4 victory, the Knights gained a measure of revenge to advance in the Lions tournament. However, they barely did after Olympian tallied five runs in the 7th inning to make it much too close for comfort.

However, Knights shortstop Cade Cabral was able to grab a ball on the short hop, throw to first base to cap their triumph.

Foothilla Christian trailed 5-0, then scored 10 straight runs before the Eagles late comeback was finally thwarted.

Four runs in the third saw Knights second baseman Corbin Harris triple in a run, then he scored on a base hit by third baseman Kip Famolaro to trim the deficit to 5-4.

In the 5th, six runs came home for the Knights. Included was a run-scoring triple by Cabral to tie the contest, followed by a go-ahead base hit by Harris, who then came home on a Famolaro triple for a 7-5 lead.

“I think our bats have always been awake,” Famolaro said. “We have had many games where we score six runs or more and still manage to lose.

“The real difference has been in our defense. One of our coaches always says ‘if we throw strikes and make plays, I like our chances.’ That’s what we’ve done for the past two games.”

Max Merlan (double) and Seth Gilbody (single) also had RBI in the outburst.

However, Olympian (12-8) refused to roll over.

With a run already in and two outs, Olympian’s rally in the seventh saw pinch-hitter Alejandro Obeso walk with the bases loaded, followed by a sacrifice fly from Hector Acosta, then a 2-run triple by Victor Zazueta to make it 12-10.

Zazueta came home on an Andres Contreas base hit, which was followed by a walk to place the potential go-ahead runner on base.

“I have to give thanks to my catcher Kip Famolaro,” Merlan said. “He called a great game and I just had to hit his glove. It was a great team win and we’re improving day by day.”

Foothills Christian (7-15) saw Famolaro and Jalani Brown register three hits each.

“Today was an offensive battle,” Famolaro said. “Both teams were hitting the ball well. Luckily, Max came into pitch and stopped the bleeding. Another much-needed win, we’re all pumped for tomorrow and ready to win.”

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