East County Sports

Hillers, Pack, Cougs gain Lions finals

Foothills Christian on Wednesday. / Dave Dickens


2021 EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL

 

By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

EL CAJON – Grossmont High junior Barron Zamora continues to follow the Foothillers playbook of rocketing moon shots. The right fielder connected for a walk-off grand slam to shock visiting Bonita Vista, 7-5, clinching a Classic Division championship game berth of the annual Lions Tournament.

Just like Tuesday’s victory, Zamora’s blow was a no-doubter, keeping the Hillers unbeaten through six ballgames. It was his second home run of the ballgame, helping overcome an early 5-0 lead for the Barons.

The slam was Grossmont fourth in just six games so far this season. Four different players have hit the grannies.

“It’s a dream for all young ballplayers to be in that position and I was happy to get it done the way that I did,” Zamora said. “The pitch was a fastball, it was up by the letters and I saw it out of the hand and took a hack.

The 6-0 ledger surpasses the 2010 Hillers which started 5-0. The new target is squarely on the 2008 squad which opened at 9-0.

Meanwhile, Madison meets Rancho Bernardo in the second Classic Division title contest. There will not be a Lions Grand Finale due to the pandemic.

The playbook seems simple: wait on a fastball and drill it over the fence. In reality, Grossmont has also been making dents on other types of pitches, too, leaving opposing pitchers bewildered on what to throw next.

“Our team is playing great right now,” Zamora said. “Guys are picking each other up and we’re playing with energy. Just hoping we can keep this up through the season.

The Barons, coached by former West Hills assistant coach Dave Palet along with his son, Josh, saw the bottom half of the lineup strike first.

An error, a single, then a 3-run homer by Anthony Lovato made it 3-0. Later, Nick Huey made it 5-0 with a 2-run single. Both are lefties.

Afterward, Grossmont pitcher Jaden Wilcox allowed just three singles to the rest of the Barons.  Wilcox struck out nine in his complete-game effort.

“We had a couple of miscommunications in the second which led to the huge inning,” Wilcox said. “But after that, we rallied up some runs inning-by-inning.

“You will see us in the Open Division at the end of the year.”

Grossmont scored once in the middle three innings, including Zamora’s first homer (a solo shot in the fourth) to trim the deficit to 5-3. Then came the seventh.

Isaiah Gomez and Justin Brown accepted consecutive lead walks, An out later, Evan Vasiliou singled with the runner at third base held.  Zamora then took a 1-1 pitch “to the moon, Alice.”

Zamora finished with five RBI  He also collected two hits, as did teammates Reggie Williams and Gomez.

West Hills 12, Foothills Christian 1

SANTEE – The West Hills Wolf Pack captured a tournament pool for the first time since the 2013 Lions Tournament, advancing to Thursday’s Division 3A medal round after whipping Foothills Christian, 12-1, in a battle of pool co-leaders.

Senior pitcher Kyle Dobyns was a standout on the mound and with the bat. While tossing a complete-game 4-hitter with nine strikeouts — the run was unearned — the No. 3 batter also drove in three runs.

The bottom of the Wolf Pack lineup did most of the damage on offense, with Aaron Petersen and Owen Rodgers also recording three RBI each.

Triples were on the West Hills menu, as Aaron Petersen smacked a pair of 3-base hits while Jacob Villanueva adding another, as the Pack scored in every inning but the second.

West Hills needed just three batters to score, with a hit batter and an error was followed by a run-scoring single by Dobyns.

The run was unearned as was the first West Hills run in the third. But later in the frame, Peterson stroked his bases-loaded triple to right field, capping the Knights’ string of innings without yielding an earned run at 14 2/3.

Down 6-0, Foothills Christian got on the scoreboard in the fourth on a double steal, as Kip Famolaro (safe on an error) scored a split-second after Cam Nicks took second base. Both are seniors.

Both ballclubs are 4-2 overall.

 

Steele Canyon 5, Mission Hills 4

SAN MARCOS – In another battle of pool co-leaders, the Steele Canyon Cougars will play for the Premier Division championship of the Lions Tournament hanging on late to out-growl the host Grizzlies.

When we say hang on, we really mean it after Steele Canyon tried to play giveaway.

Mission Hills collected a one-out single, but errors would load the bases. Bryce Ignaciak followed with a deep double with two runs scoring. But when the Grizzlies’ third-base coach waving the potential game-tying run to the plate, the Cougars’ defense got their act together.

A relay from the right fielder, Weston Clark, to the infielder, Sebastian Granados, to the catcher, Jake Entrekin, was perfect for the second out.

Relief pitcher Ray Marrero then coaxed a game-ending ground ball to first base for the final out, capping a stint of 3 2/3 innings to collect the victory.

“That (out at home) was awesome,” Marrero said. “I was heading to back up third because I didn’t think they would send the last runner. When I saw the runner round third, I yelled, ‘home, home!,’ and once the play was over, I was in awe. It was a crucial play because that was the tying run.

“I had good command with the fastball and had some good curveballs, too.”

Steele Canyon scored twice in the first and led throughout. However, Mission Hills remained in contention by converting a pair of double plays.

The early Cougars lead came courtesy of Taylor Corella, who stroked a two-run triple to right field, bringing in Weston Clark (lead single) and Jake Entrekin (walk).

Both ballclubs are 4-2 overall, with Steele Canyon on a 3-game winning streak.

“It was good to see our guys find a way to win when we didn’t play our best game,” Steele Canyon head coach Jesse Evans said. “Credit to Mission Hills. It took an incredible throw from Granados to Entrekin to prevent the tying run. Marrero battled for us in relief to preserve the win.”

Helix 6, Poway 4

LA MESA – Little has gone right for the Poway Titans this season. The Helix Highlanders didn’t mind adding to their misery.

Demarae Woods belted a game-tying, bases-loaded triple, then came home with the go-ahead run on Wyatt Laub’s ground ball up the middle, as the Scotties tallied four times in the fourth to punk Poway, 6-4.

“We have been working hard as a team and it was great to come through for my team,” Woods said. “We have been struggling to put hits together, so having my teammates come through in from of me gave me confidence and I just wanted to help my team. It was a great team win to end the week. We can’t wait to keep it rolling next week.”

The Titans drop to 1-5 overall despite a plus-11 run differential — thanks to a 23-0 win. Since then, the Titans have dropped three straight, while the Scotties jumped up to 3-2.

The winning rally saw James Whitman pound a leadoff double but needed to hold his ground on a grounder to third base by Aidan Perez, who beat the throw for an infield single.

Jake Perez followed with a chopper for another infield single, then Woods smacked a 3-iron to deep right field.

An inning later, Aiden Perez added a sacrifice fly. scoring Ben Haar (safe on an error).

That was enough for Helix relief pitcher Leyton Wirschem, who allowed just one hit over the final 4 1/3 innings to collect the victory.

“It was a pretty intense game all the way through,” Wirschem said. “I tried to keep Poway off-balance with my off-speed and my four-seam. I just did my job throwing strikes, and my defense behind me made some great plays. Our offense came through when we needed it.”

Wirschem struck out three and walked just one, ending the ballgame by retiring nine of the final 10 Poway batters.

“I was happy we fought back after being down,” Helix head coach Cole Holland said. “I am worried about our starting pitching competing better but we will figure it out.”

Carlsbad 14, Granite Hills 9

EL CAJON –  Granite Hills finally ran out of comeback efforts Wednesday (Mar. 31), falling to Carlsbad, 14-9 in 10 innings, to determine second place in their pool of the Lions Tournament.

The Eagles moved even with three runs in the sixth, traded single runs in the ninth, but the tenth left an already stretch pitching staff reeling.

Carlsbad (5-0) registered all of its runs after two were out in the tenth. With the bases loaded, an RBI single by Finn McIlroy gave the Lancers the lead, then Cole Friend slugged a 3-run double to cement the win.

Meanwhile, Rancho Bernardo blanked Chaparral of Temecula to capture the Classic Division pool. The Broncos will face Madison in Thursday’s championship.

Granite Hills first got even on a two-out, 2-run single by Ethan McNish-Heider scoring Camden Sos and Grant Mac Arthur. For the contest, McNish-Geider batted 3-for-3 with three RBI.

Carlsbad thought they broke a second-place tie with Granite Hills in their pool in the ninth, but the Eagles again moved level on a triple by Austin Smith, scoring Cody Macias (lead single).

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