East County Sports

Norsemen win Division III title




East County Sports staff report

SAN DIEGO (5-25-2019) – Even baseball aficionados may not know the name of Hughie Jennings, a turn of the century — the 19th Century — ballplayer inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Old-Timers Committee in 1945.

What is Jennings’ claim to fame? He remains the all-time major league leader in getting hit by a pitch — 287 times to be exact — in an 18-year career.

Conversely, in 2019, Valhalla High shortstop Mario Johnson was rarely struck by a pitch — until Friday (May 24) when he learned how joyful one can be by “wearing one” for the ballclub.


The No. 9 batter for the Norsemen, Johnson was tagged on a 1-0 pitch to force home the game-tying run.

Moments later, leadoff batter Ryan Perot singled to deliver the go-ahead run, as Orange Nation rallied by scoring twice in the 7th inning to shock San Pasqual, 6-5, to capture the San Diego Section CIF Division III baseball crown at San Diego State’s Tony Gwynn Stadium.

Valhalla reliever Kyle Casper, another junior, pitched the final two innings to garner the victory.

The right-hander survived a pair of walks in the bottom of the seventh with a title-clinching strikeout.

The San Diego Section title is the second in four championship game appearances. The Norsemen took the Division III crown in 2006.

They fell in ’04 and ’14.

For Johnson, who had just five RBI all season before getting tagged to score JoJo Ingrassia, it was his biggest at-bat of the season.

The late-inning HBP also placed Valhalla into position for extra innings for a remarkable 8th time this season. However, Perot’s base hit to score Aaron Lopez avoided working overtime yet again.

“The second pitch was outside, right where I wanted it,” Perot said. “There was a big gap between first and second and I just wanted to hit it through the right side of the infield. It felt great.”

Ingrassia started the comeback with a one-out walk, but Riley O’Sullivan popped to the catcher for the second out.

However, Luke Clark walked and Lopez garnered an infield single to load the bases, setting up Johnson and Perot.

Valhalla mounted an early 3-0 lead, but the Golden Eagles tallied four times in the seconds to grab the lead.

Both sides exchanged runs in the fourth before the pitchers on both sides settled in.

Surprise Valhalla starter Andy Boyd went the first five frames, allowing just three earned runs. Kasper followed and struck out four in his two innings of no-hit ball.

For Valhalla (25-8 overall), Lopez batted 2-for-5, while Kasper scored three times, twice following walks.

For San Pasqual (22-11), designated player Elijah Jackson batted 3-for-4 with two RBI, while power-hitting catcher Jason Hall went 1-for-1 and was walked three times.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *