East County Sports

Highlanders return favor; Hillers roll

2019 EAST COUNTY PREP SOFTBALL

By Tyler Gribble

Special to EastCountySports.com

LA MESA – A close contest was expected by many as the Mar Vista Mariners and the Helix Highlanders met for a rematch of their game played on March 5 – a game in which the Mariners rallied for two runs in the top of the 7th to overcome a 1-run deficit and walk away with a win.

And that’s what the fans got as the Highlanders earned a 2-1 walk-off win on Monday at Helix High School.

Through the first two innings of the game, the defense of both teams was on point. Both teams’ bats made solid contact, but the fielders were ready for it all.

In the 1st inning, Highlander right fielder Kori Jonilonis made a diving catch, snagging a line drive and robbing the Mariners of what may have been their first hit of the day.

In the 2nd, Mariner 1st baseman Ryleigh Titilah and 3rd baseman Jazmyne Gomez both had their reflexes tested, successfully fielding line drives that were drilled right at them.

The first run of the game came in the top of the 3rd.

With one out, Mariner center fielder Lexy Tubman reached base via an error, stole 2nd base, and advanced to 3rd base thanks to another error. The next batter, Bryanna Schaffer, bounced a ground ball to short – the throw to 1st base was wide, allowing Tubman to score.

In the bottom of the 4th, Erin Brown led off with a line-drive single into right field, and Nicole Hernandez rolled a slow grounder to 2nd base, advancing Brown into scoring position.

With one out, Amber Young battled her way to a walk, and Sophia Ramuno followed with a single, loading the bases.

Zoe Kuhlken came to the plate next, delivering a line drive into center field. Mariner center fielder Lexy Tubman was playing a couple of steps in, but her quick reaction allowed her to recover, making an athletic over-the-shoulder catch of a ball that threatened to sail over her head and drive in multiple runs. Ultimately, Erin Brown tagged up on the fly ball out and scored the first Helix run of the game, tying the score 1-1.

Through the 5th and 6th innings, only one baserunner reached for either team, as both offenses attempted to break the tie.

The Highlanders steeled their nerves, determined not to let another game against Mar Vista slip away in the late innings.

Finally, in the bottom of the 7th, it seemed as though they had finally broken through.

Kuhlken led off, battling her way through eight pitches before hitting a single up the middle.

Helix head coach Darren Emery followed with a pair of substitutions – calling for Alyssa Cruz to pinch run for Kuhlken, and for Jolene Giles to pinch hit.

Giles grinded out an eight-pitch at-bat that resulted in a walk. Cruz, by virtue of a passed ball and a wild pitch, advanced to third during the AB.

With runners on the corners and no outs, Jonilonis stepped to the plate, looking for her first base hit in almost a month. She delivered – rolling a hard grounder into center field, scoring Cruz and securing the walk-off win for the Highlanders.

Not to be lost in the story of the game was the pitching performances of both teams.

Ramuno got the pitching start for the Highlanders, allowing just two hits, no walks, and one unearned run en route to a complete game victory.

On the other side, Bryanna Schaffer pitched a complete game for the Mariners, allowing six hits and just one earned run on the day.

After the game, Emery praised Jonilonis’ performance – delivering the game-winning hit, and making a pair of diving catches to rob a couple of hits. He also noted the defense as a whole (outside of one inning), their approach at the plate, and the pitching performance of Ramuno.

The Highlanders record goes to 12-9 on the season, and they travel to Santee next to take on the Santana Sultans in a non-league game on Wednesday in another tough match-up.

GROSSMONT 14, POINT LOMA 0: At the ballpark next to Harry Griffen Park, the host Foothillers took the momentum gained from a solid showing against No. 1 ranked Mater Dei Catholic in the Falcon Fiesta semifinals to place a whammy on the Pointers in Monday’s (Apr. 22) non-league contest.

The Hillers (14-11) posted multiple-run innings in each of their four at-bats before the run rule was invoked, backing the combined shutout by Samaria Roope (3 IP, win) and Natalie Emery (2 IP, save). Roope struck out six Point Loma batters.

More than half of Grossmont’s 11 hits went for extra bases, including home runs by Kati Contreras and Brianne Blue. Both homers were clouted in the 2nd inning, with Contreras starting a two-out rally with a solo shot to left field, then Blue followed an RBI double by Jordan Brown with a 2-run bomb to center to cap the frame with a 9-0 cushion.

The other extra-base hit were doubles by Aly Allmann, Kimmy Bond and Jamie Medlin.

Blue, the right fielder, also posted an RBI single in the 1st to complete a 3 RBI outing.

-Nick Pellegrino contributed to this report

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