East County Sports

ROUNDUP: Helix clinches Hills outright


East County Sports staff report

LAKESIDE (5-9-2019) – The Helix Highlanders placed the finishing touches on their championship season in the Grossmont Hills “Super” League, scoring single runs in the 4th, 6th and 7th innings to outlast host Santana, 3-1, to cap the regular season on Wednesday (May 8).

The triumph gives the Scotties their fourth straight league crown, the school’s best run since capturing three straight league titles some three decades ago (from 1988-90).

“(It) was a journey,” Helix head coach Cole Holland said. “(We) had to overcome a lot of things this year. (I’m) just proud of our guys that bought in and were good teammates.”

In 1988, the final season when all Grossmont Conference schools played in the same league. Helix set the all-time single-best record in history by taking all 16 ballgames. They were led by such luminaries like pitchers Rick Navarro and Damon Luban, catcher Rick Page, shortstop Rich Haar and outfielder Dan Tiulama – all first-team members of the All-East County team. They eventually defeated Santana, 1-0, for the CIF Class 3A (large school) championship.

This time against the Sultans, Jordan Thompson was a central figure in all three rallies, scoring twice and driving in a run.

Thompson was also the winning pitcher, registering a career-high 12 strikeouts to run his record to 3-1 in his first start since losing his only game of the season. The junior, who has already committed to Louisiana State University, limited the Sultans to just two hits.

Trailing 1-0, Thompson opened the 4th with a bunt single, Then with two outs, he stole second base, went to third on a passed ball, then came home on a game-tying base hit by catcher Adam Martinez (2-for-3).

“I just went up there with a good approach and mentality and tried to make something happen to help my team out,” Martinez said. “We did a really good job we knew we needed to win to clinch the league and we know that Santana wasn’t going to throw the game so we fought hard to get the runs that we needed.

“We didn’t try to force things to happen so we let the game come to us and trusted in ourselves to get the hit that we needed to come out on top.”

Two innings later, Thompson again led off, but instead of bunting, he drilled a double to center field.  He went to third on a deep fly ball to right by Carlos Oquita, then home on the ensuing, go-ahead base hit by right fielder Noah Lane.

In the seventh, Thompson delivered the RBI with his bat. Once again, the run was set-up by a leadoff hit.

“I just tried to stay calm and hit the ball hard to help my team win,” Thompson said. “Adam and I were on the same page since pitch one so that always helps. My go-to pitch today was my changeup. I give credit to Zo for it because he taught me it three days ago.”

This time, No. 9 batter Ayden Estrada (3-for-3) and leadoff man Alonzo Richardson stroked consecutive singles. Estrada took third on a passed ball, then Thompson lifted a sacrifice fly to left for the RBI.

“Coming into the game I really wasn’t feeling good,” Estrada said. “I had got sick yesterday morning but I fought through it and I came up to the plate like I have been doing, staying aggressive and battling out counts to just get the next guy up like coach has been saying all season long. My swing felt great and I’m glad I was able to get three hits for my team and come out with the victory.”

Thomspon then capped his complete-game with a 1-2-3 inning, finishing the contest with a pair of strikeouts. His whiffs topped his previous best of nine against La Costa Canyon.

“Jordan did a really good job on the bump today,” Martinez said. He trusted what he had and did a great job of keeping Santana’s offense off balance.”

Entering the day’s action, Helix (18-11 overall, 8-4 GHL) was listed fifth among the eight schools in the Open Division field. However, at No. 4 is Scripps Ranch, a team the Scotties defeated this season, so there is optimism to jump in front of the Falcons and garner a home game in the postseason opener.

Santana (14-15, 5-7 GHL) tallied its lone run in the second on a two-out rally.

Blake Taylor sent a double down the right-field line. Gabe Rivera reached on a dropped third strike (passed ball), then a double-steal allowed Taylor to score; the run was unearned.

GRANITE HILLS 6, GROSSMONT 3: At Granite Hills, the Eagles snapped a 3-3 deadlock by posting three runs in the bottom of the 6th innings to get past the visiting Foothillers in Grossmont Hills “Super” League action Wednesday (May 8).

Grossmont tied the ballgame in the fifth on a base hit by center fielder Keoni Valdez (2-for-3).

But the Hillers set-up the Eagles’ rebuttal by issuing a walk and a hit batter to start the sixth. Clay Fordham followed with a one-out single to regain the lead by sending home Sean McGrew (walk), with Brian Smith (HBP) also scoring on an error to make it 5-3.

“Looking for a good pitch out over the plate,” Fordham said of his base knock. “Wanted to ambush early and get a pitch that I thought I could drive. Got a fastball outer third and got enough barrel on it to find some grass in the outfield.

“Good way for us to get things rolling into CIF. It was much needed. We do our job in CIF and people forget about the season. That’s our mindset.”

Pinch-hitter Max Bodtke walked to load the bases, followed by an RBI walk to No. 9 hitter Alex Gibaud.

Most of Grossmont’s offense was provided by outfielder Zakary Farris, who registered a 2-run homer in the third to give the Hillers a brief 2-1 lead. Farris also belted a double.

For Granite Hills (13-13 overall, 5-7 GHSL), Noa Ponciano pitched four innings and yielded just four hits, yet received no decision. The win went to Austin Smith (5-5) with three innings of 1-hit relief.

“It was a good way to finish the regular season,” Granite Hills head coach James Davis said. “Let’s see how the playoffs go.”

Grossmont (15-13, 6-6 GHSL) received two hits each from Farris and Valdez. The only other hit was by Kaleb Tedokon.

“We didn’t play our best and you can’t expect to win this league if you don’t play consistently well,” Grossmont head coach Jordan Abruzzo said. “If we are going to make a run in the playoffs we have to put good games together, good innings together and good at-bats together. I think we have the guys to do it but we have to go and prove it.”

TRI-CITY CHRISTIAN 10,  FOOTHILLS CHRISTIAN 3: At Stars Field at Barona, the Knights’ quest to gain a share of the Pacific League title fell short when the visiting Eagles took Wednesday (May 8) showdown.

Tied at 2-2, Tri-City tallied four times in the second inning to grab the lead for keeps. Eric French drilled a 2-run double, giving him three RBI on a 3-for-5 outing at the plate.

The Knights registered just four hits, including two by Elijah Morr. The lone RBI was by Cade Cabral on a sacrifice.

Foothills Christian (10-18 overall, 4-4 league) received six solid frames of relief work from Max Merlan, allowing just one earned run.

Tri-City Christian (17-9, 6-2 Pacific) is expected to move into the second seed in the CIF Division II playoffs.

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