East County Sports

Cougars edge Norsemen, earn second in GVL



East County Sports staff report

RANCHO SAN DIEGO (5-9-2019) – Entering Wednesday’s (May 8) regular-season finale, Steele Canyon junior Aiden Oakey pitched a mere 4 2/3 innings all season. Still, the left-hander was handed the baseball in what could be considered a throw-away game against Valhalla, since the Norsemen already clinched the Grossmont Valley League crown earlier in the week.

Throw-away? Unimportant? Irrelevant? Don’t tell that to Oakey, who nearly doubled his season pitch count with four solid innings, then the Cougars did the rest in nipping their visiting neighbors, 2-1, to gain a split of the season-ending series.

“The hard work that I’ve been putting in at practice really paid off today,” Oakey said. “I knew that to have success, I had to just trust myself and adapt to any situation I was faced with.”
Cougars catcher Jake Entrekin delivered a 2-run homer in the 4th inning for the decisive blow in a stellar pitchers’ duel.

“My home run was super cool,” Entrekin said. “It was on the back end a few bad games at the plate so it was nice to get some runs on the board. The pitch was an inside curveball.  This season has been super cool and I’m proud of all our guys for coming together to make this season special.”

Oakey yielded just one hit and an unearned run during his stint on the mound, his first start of the season. Then the Cougars bullpen did even better with three frames of no-hit ball.

“Early on in the game, I felt as if my slider wasn’t working so I had to scratch that pitch and use my changeup more,” Oakey said. “Keeping the hitters off balance and not giving them an opportunity to made solid contact with the ball was really my main plan going into today. I feel as if there was room for improvement but for my first varsity start, I’m pretty happy with my performance.

“I’m proud of my teammates, too, for sticking with me through today and getting the job done with their bats.

Sebastian Granados pitched a 1-2-3 in the fifth, then survived a walk and a hit batter with a pair of strikeouts to end the sixth.

Then in the seventh, Jonathan Kenney earned the save with another 1-2-3 frame, including back-to-back strikeouts to cap the triumph.

“Granados and Kenney both did phenomenal in relief and without them, we wouldn’t have been able to win today,” Oakey said. “Now the focus is on CIF and making a run for our first championship in school history.”

Conversely, Valhalla pitcher Riley O’Sullivan made just one mistake. yet it cost him just his second setback of the season.

With Valhalla leading 1-0, the Cougars received a leadoff double from Richard Pedrin to start the fourth.

The hit set up a duel between O’Sullivan and East County home run leader Bill Tellous, who only needed to single to tie the ballgame. Instead, O’Sullivan coaxed a grounder to shortstop Mario Johnson, who fired to third baseman Luke Clark to cut down the lead runner even though the ball was hit in front of him.

Although O’Sullivan won the battle, he lost the war when the ensuing batter, Entrekin, drilled a 3-2 pitch over the left-field fence for a 2-run, go-ahead homer.

The Norsemen run came in the third on an Ethan Dunnam sacrifice fly.

Ryan Perot raised his batting average to exactly .300 with his leadoff single, which turned out to be the ballclub’s lone base hit. He advanced to third base on an error during a failed pickoff attempt. JoJo Ingrassia walked, then Dunnam lifted the ball to center field for the RBI.

Steele Canyon (18-9 overall, 9-3 GVL) gained undisputed possession of second place, one game ahead of West Hills (11-14, 8-4 GVL).

Valhalla (20-7, 10-2 GVL) saw its 10-game league win streak snapped despite a 3-hitter by O’Sullivan (4-2), who struck out 11 batters.

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