East County Sports

Open: Highlanders reach elite semifinal

2019 EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL

69TH LIONS TOURNAMENT

OPEN DIVISION

 

East County Sports staff report

 

CARLSBAD (4-18-2019) – Helix High coach Cole Holland must be pleased with the development of his Highlanders.

On Wednesday (Apr. 17), Holland’s No. 9-ranked Highlanders outlasted No. 5 La Costa Canyon, 2-1, gaining a berth to the Open Division semifinals in the 69th edition of the Lions Tournament.

The Scotties will host Poway at 12:30 in one semifinal at Helix in the county’s elite division of the prestigious event.

Granite Hills will be the site of the other two contests, as Desert Oasis meets Newbury Park at 12:30 p.m., followed by the Open Division championship at 3:30 p.m.

Helix pitcher Jordon Thompson fired five shutout innings, yielding a mere two hits and striking out nine LCC batters. However, Mavericks pitcher Bretten Hadley matched Thompson’s shutout bid.

“My curveball and slider were really working today,” Thompson said. “Kept the hitters off balance and really set up my fastball.”

The difference was a Holland decision to replace Thompson.

Meanwhile, LCC kept Hadley in the game, as the first four Helix batters reached base with all of the ballgame’s runs were scored in the sixth.

The winning rally saw the bottom third of the Helix batting order reach, as Jack Sothras singled, Carlos Michel walked and Devin Baker walked to load the bases with no one out.

Turning over the lineup, Alonzo Richardson followed with a line double to left, producing a 2-0 lead.

“The two-RBI double by Alonzo was huge for us to be able to win the game,” Thompson said.

Richardson collected three of Helix’s nine hits.

“(The LCC) pitcher was locating well but left a few over the plate,” Richardson said.

La Costa Canyon (14-7) answered with a run on a ground out, but in the 7th, Scotties closer Thomas Caneday retired the Mavs in order — capped by a game-ending strikeout –for the save and a trip to the Final Four.

For Helix (14-8), leaders of the Grossmont Hills League, Thompson and Caneday combined on a 3-hitter.

GROSSMONT 4, EL CAMINO REAL (Woodland Hills) 3: At Gizoni Field, senior Zach Zolina pitched six innings and got the win for the Foothillers (12-11) over the visiting Conquistadors (14-8-1), ending a 4-game losing skid for Grossmont.

Jake Romero, a freshman, got the save, the first of his career.

“It was a great feeling being able to come back from a rough beginning of the season,” Zolina said. “My slider felt really good today and I knew my team had my back and made many good plays behind me. Later in the game, I started throwing more changeups and our team hit well with four runs which felt great.”

Grossmont sophomore Isaiah Gomez had a home run and a double. He also scored three runs.

“Much needed win,” Grossmont head coach Jordan Abruzzo said. “So proud of Zolina. He is a great kid and I couldn’t be happier for him to have that moment today.”

For Zolina, it was his first victory of the season and was by far his longest outing, having logged no more than 1 2/3 innings all season in seven other appearances.

POWAY 1, GRANITE HILLS 0: At Poway, the host Titans nipped the Eagles to gain an Open Division semifinals berth against Helix in the Lions Tournament.

Titans pitcher Dylan Moran fired a 2-hit shutout with five strikeouts, holding the lead throughout after Poway registered the ballgame’s lone run in the first.

Among the first four Poway batters, a pair of walks, then two singles — capped by an RBI base hit by Ivan Romero,– produced the run. After that, Eagles pitcher Austin Smith allowed just three additional its over his six innings.

“It’s a tough loss,” Smith said. “Definitely wasn’t our best game. We learn from that and got to get back to work now.”

Granite Hills (10-11) received base hits from Max Bodtke and Clay Fordham.

“It was a frustrating game,” Fordham said. “We lost to a team that we thought we were just as good as. No runs and two hits won’t get you very far in a game and at this point in the season, it’s disappointing.

“Regardless of the outcome, we live and learn and push forward to make ourselves better and learn from our mistakes. We’re ready to get back into league and make a push for the league title.”

 

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