East County Sports

LIONS TOURNEY: Hawks, Vaqueros, Wolf Pack, Knights, Patriots win



By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

EL CAJON – Name the East County school with the best pitching staff. Is it (alphabetically) Granite Hills, Grossmont, Helix, or Santana?


Through the midway point of the 71st annual Lions Tournament, the raw statistics are clear. Hand the trophy to the Mountain Empire RedHawks.


The Hawks extended their string of innings without allowing an earned run 12 1/3 following Tuesday’s (Mar. 29) whitewash of El Cajon Valley, 13-0.


A trio of Mountain Empire pitchers — Jacobe Noland, Dakota Hatmaker, and Nakai Lindholm  — combined on a 1-hit shutout in the 5-inning contest.


A total of nine Braves struck out, including six by Noland in his 2 1/3 innings.


Despite the short stint, Noland, the starter on the mound, collected the victory because of the desire by CIF officials to show sportsmanship and not running up scores.


Leading 7-0 early, the RedHawks tacked on six more markers in the fourth to invoke the run (mercy) rule a half-inning later.


For Mountain Empire (1-1), standout football receiver Marcus Smith drove in four runs from the cleanup spot. David Lothspeich recorded three RBI. Both batted 2-for-3 with a walk.


Once again, the Braves’ Ruben Cosio collected the lone hit for ECVHS (0-4). He singled and stole second base with one out in the top of the fourth (ECVHS was the visiting team inside its own ballpark).


While Mountain  Empire’s pitchers have yet to allow a run, technically it was the best effort by Braves hurlers in allowing the fewest number of runs so far in the early season.

El Capitan 9, Fallbrook 8

LAKESIDE – Entering the Lions Tournament winless in three starts, El Capitan is righted the ship after winning its second straight tournament contest after sneaking past Fallbrook, 9-8, Tuesday (Mar. 30). The Vaqueros need one additional win to advance to the medal round in their division.

The Vaqs snapped an 8-all deadlock when Brady Reed stroked a one-out single, advanced to second on a ground ball to the right side by Adam Lozano, then scored on a clutch, two-out line single to right field by senior Miguel Rosario.

Senior Jake Bergherm fueled the offense by slamming a pair of doubles, going 3-for-4 with a run and two RBI.

At the bottom of the El Cap batting order, Bobo Mendoza and Clayton Brown combined to go 3-for-4 with three runs and three RBI. Both are juniors.

Aidan McFarlane gained the pitching victory in relief. He fired 2 1/3 frames, but when he tired by walking two in the seventh, Cole Winsor foiled the Warriors by recoding a pair of quick outs to stop Fallbrook (0-5) to garner the save.


West Hills 4, Mar Vista 2

IMPERIAL BEACH – Limited to just three hits through five innings, West Hills High opened the sixth inning with three consecutive extra-base hits, scoring three times to sink host Mar Vista, 4-2, for its second straight Lions Tournament triumph.

The Wolf Pack (4-2) will meet Foothills Christian on Wednesday for a berth in Thursday’s medal round in its division.

Jacob Villanueva again sparked the offense when he sent the ball over the center fielder’s head for a double. Then the Pack upped the extra-bases barrage.

Ryan Parker and Connor Evans took advantage of the extra-large field at Mar Vista by both spanking run-scoring triples to push the lead to 3-0. And when Ryan Rodgers extended the streak to four straight base hits with an RBI single, the Pack held a 4-run advantage.

The Mariners (1-3) responded back with runs inthe sixth and seventh, placing the potential game-tying runner on second base, but a ground ball to Parker at shortstop ended it.

Wolf Pack pitcher Tommy Seebold carried a shutout into the sixth. He lasted 6 1/3 innings before the pitch count ended his day. Ridgers entered in relief, surviving two hits and a hit batter to gain the final two outs for the save.

Rodgers and Evans each batted 2-for-3 with an RBI, with Evans scoring twice.

Mar Vista shortstop Josh Barbato and first baseman Andrew Guevara each had two hits.


Foothills Christian 5, Imperial 3

EL CAJON – Back in the 1979-80 school year, the fledgling athletics program at Christian High was admitted as a member of the Grossmont Conference. The experiment only lasted a single season as the Patriots, at the time, were not able to compete with the public school programs.

Forty years later, Foothills Christian could make a bid to balance East County to two leagues with six teams each. We’ll know for sure on Wednesday (Mar. 31) when the Knights battle host West Hills for a berth in its division’s championship round of the Lions Tournament after crowning Imperial, 5-3.

Both Foothills Christian and the Wolf Pack are 2-0 in pool play, with both programs seeking to prove they belong.

Christian 10, Southwest (El Centro) 2 – The Patriots’ Vaughn Major got the win.

The Patriots’ Brody Gunder came on to close out the 7th. Ashton McCurty pitched the 6th. The Patriots led 9-2.

Christian High scored three in the bottom of the first and another in the second to go up 4-0 for the quick-working Vaughn.
“The kids are executing and getting hits when we need them to,” Christian High head coach Mike Mitchell said. “We threw two freshmen today.”

Southwest scored a run in the third and fourth inning but Christian led 7-2 after four, then extended the lead to 9-2.

Xavier Farnum and Braeden Ross both had two hits for Christian (2-0).

“Only two games in and I can already say that this team is super fun to be around. I’ve looked forward to being in the dugout with those guys every day,” Ross said. “Our offense is really clicking. We have scored in every single inning to start the year so far -13 in-a-row.”

Mission Bay 1, Mount Miguel 0

PACIFIC BEACH – In an outstanding pitching duel, the Mission Bay Buccaneers posted their fourth consecutive victory, including the last two by shutout, in outlasting the Mount Miguel Matadors. Mission Bay finished with a combined 1-hit shutout.

The Bucs (4-1) scored the game’s lone run in the bottom of the seventh, making a winner of reliever Caleb Dickinson, who tossed two innings of no-hit ball.  The starter, Miguel Navarro, struck out six Matadors batters, but wildness (four walks) forced his removal.

Matadors senior Thomas Ringer also fired one-hit ball over six frames but came away with a no-decision.

“I think that we will get there as a team,” Ringer said. “Our team is you and we did the best we could at this time. Our team just needs a little more time, and a few more reps to be successful in a game like this.”

The lone hit by Mount Miguel (2-3) was a base hit by catcher Johnathan Trader to leadoff the ballgame. Afterward, Mission Bay registered 21 outs without a hit.

“Thomas was lights out for six innings,” Mount Miguel head coach Frank Coit said. “My guys played hard behind him.”

Trader, the catcher for Ringer, also accepted a one-out walk and stole second base in the fifth. However, the sophomore was eventually stranded at third base on a double-play grounder.

The Mission Bay run saw Jordan Haight stroke a lead double to left field, moving to third on a Miguel Navarro base hit, then racing home on a wild pitch.

Mira Mesa 9, Monte Vista 6

SPRING VALLEY – Trailing 4-0 immediately out of the gate, Monte Vista twice rallied to with a run before finally falling to the visiting Marauders in the teams’ second pool-play contest in the 71st annual Lions Tournament.

Monarchs catcher Jacob Savoy led the comeback with a two-out, solo home run to center field in the fifth to move within 5-4. However, the Marauders answered back with four runs in the sixth to pull away.

A final Monte Vista resulted in two runs in the seventh,  Three walks, and a hit batter forced in a run, then Savoy lofted a sacrifice fly, but Mira Mesa escaped the self-induced, bases-loaded jam on an infield pop out and a strikeout.

“We got off to a bad start and never recovered,” Monte Vista head coach Craig Neu said.

Mira Mesa sophomore Aiden Nguyen batted 3-for-3. The No. 8-hitting designated hitter also drove in two runs, along with catcher Jackson Bentancourt and cleanup hitter Eric Beans, the winning pitcher.

Albert Rodriguez went 2-for-3 with an RBI for Monte Vista.

“Albert threw a guy out at second base trying to stretch a double. He also made a couple of nice catches in the outfield,” Neu said.

For the Monarchs, when the starting pitcher failed to get out of the first, David Rodriguez came out of the bullpen and gave the Monarchs five innings of emergency relief.

“It was a special game for me because my younger brother was pitching in our first game playing together,” Albert Rodriguez said. “I was a bit nervous for him. I always try to play all out and do all I can to help my team.”

David Vega had two hits, including a double.

“David (Rodriguez) kept us in the game,” Neu said.

Otay Ranch 6, Valhalla 4

RANCHO SAN DIEGO – The Otay Ranch Mustangs tallied twice in the sixth inning to snap a 4-4 deadlock, remaining undefeated in the Lions Tournament after topping Valhalla on Tuesday (Mar. 30).

The Norsemen defense self-destructed in the sixth, committing three errors. Two bobbles and a Daniel Leon double broke the tie. A third error re-loaded the bases, followed by a sacrifice fly by Santiago Garcia.

Otay Ranch (2-0 overall) scored its four other runs in the third, but Valhalla (1-3) equalized with of its runs in the fourth.

After loading the bases with one out, pinch-hitter Alberto Alvarez was hit by a pitch to end Otay Ranch’s shutout bid.

Norsemen left fieder Trey Henige followed with a drive to the center field fence, clearing the bases with a double to pull the teams even.

For Valhalla, the defense was charged with eight errors,


Leave a Reply

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