East County Sports

Eagles get by Saints, Hillers next

Granite Hills' ERIC HOGAN / photo by Dan Barnes Photography




East County Sports staff report

KEARNY MESA (5-19-2019) – Which ballclub will have the advantage when a pair of Grossmont Hills “Super” League rivals collide in the Final Four of the CIF Division I baseball championship?
The next time could be the last time two teams will meet from the short-livedfour-team circuit format. But then again, it may not.

Granite Hills earned its berth in the bracket final after nipping St. Augustine, 1-0, at Hickman Field. With the triumph, the Eagles earned a ticket to meet Grossmont for a berth to the San Diego Section title game.

Granite Hills will need to win twice against the Foothillers, the only unbeaten team left in the teams’ half of the bracket. Although Grossmont only needs to win once, history might be on the side of theEagles, which captured 3-of-4 meetings this season.

Club supporters better arrive early, as an overflow crowd is expected at Gizoni Field.

Granite Hills advanced behind the pitching of Noa Ponciano and Eric Hogan, who were both maxed out ontheir weekly innings allowance, yet combined for a 6-hit shutout of the Saints.

Ponciano was capped at four innings after going the first six frames in a play-in victory over Vista. He stopped the Saints on three hits, as did Hogan in his three frames. Both struck out three batters.

Unlike the first round loss, when errors allowed St. Augustine to claim a 2-1 win, the Granite Hills’ defense was perfect behind Ponciano and Hogan.
“Hogan and I pitched well,” Ponciano said. “Our team came up clutch when we needed it.”

Included was an inning-ending double play in the 5th inning, as second baseman Ryan Fenn made the pick on a grounder, going to shortstop T.K Parker to first baseman Grant MacArthur

Of course, the impetus of the twin-killing carried over into the sixth, when the Eagles tallied the ballgame’s lone run.

The rally started on a line single to lead off by Clay Fordham, who was bunted to second base on a sacrifice by Max Bodtke.

Then with two outs, No. 9 hitter Dillon Goins sent a booming double to center field, easily allowing Fordham to score.

For Goins, it was the second important hit for the right fielder in less than 24 hours. Earlier he slugged a 2-run triple in Friday’s win over La Jolla Country Day.
Goins also produced the defensive play of the game. In the third, the Saints sent home a runner from second base on a base hit by Angelo Peraza. However, Goins gunned down the Saints runner with a strike to catcher Brian Smith.

For Granite Hills (16-14), Brian Smith paced the offense with a pair of base hits.

Because of the late run, Hogan (2-1) collected the win in relief. His only other win came in his lone start when he bested Hilltop on March 1.
“Our pitching has been really good this week,” Granite Hills head coach James Davis said. “

St. Augustine (18-14) had won three previous meetings with the Eagles this season, including a playoff verdict earlier in the week. In the four meetings, all at Hickman Field, the Saints had allowed just three total runs to the Eagles.

Notable: The last time a pair of GUHSD schools met six times in a season came in 2010, when Helix and Valhalla collided. The Highlanders posted a 2-1 mark in both league play, then again in the CIF Division II playoffs.

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