Monarchs, Knights, Pack, Hillers win

2021 EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL

By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

TIERRASANTA — There are days when you play your best, yet lose. Then there is the West Hills Wolf Pack, which seemingly did everything wrong, yet came out on top.

On Thursday (Apr. 15), the Wolf Pack blew two leads, committed five costly errors, yet somehow came out on top to defeat host Serra,9-7 in 9 innings.

The ballgame took 3:09 to compete on the baseball diamond located on a hilltop next to a snake-infested canyon — next school year, the Serra Conquistadors will be renamed the “Canyon Hills Rattlesnakes” in order to meet someone’s definition of political correctness.

This ballgame will not capture any awards for beauty, yet nobody from West Hills (8-3) is complaining after matching the school’s best start since 2013.

The winning runs were ugly, too.

Jacob Villanueva took a one-out walk, then, freshman John Leija, in his first varsity appearance after being recalled from the JV, pinched a single over the shortstop.

On the ensuing batter, an error allowed Villanueva to tally the go-ahead run. Then Serra attempted to complete an inning-ending double play, but when the throw to first base sailed wide, allowing Leija to score.

Leija, who played left field, will have a debut to remember. He batted 3-for-4 with a pair of key RBI. The frosh also stole two bases and was hit by a pitch, reaching base on four of his five trips to the plate.

Leija’s most important RBI came in the fifth to break a 5-5 deadlock. The lead went to 7-5 before Serra countered with runs in the sixth and seventh frames to force extra innings.

Conner Tanga and Ryan Parked also registered two RBI each, as the Pack found run production, unusually, in the form of seven RBI from the 7-8-9-1 batters.

Villanueva gained the pitching victory in relief. His stint of 3 2/3 innings was capped by a 1-2-3 effort in the ninth to put an end to the longest-game (by time) in East County this season.

Villanueva, normally the catcher, also stole a bag, while Bryce Smith stole three bases to set a high-water mark of the season.

The Conquistadors’ late rally saw Josh Davis (lead double) score on a Brandon Todd base hit in the sixth. An inning later, Matt Demumbra reached on a 3-base error, tagging up to score the tying run when Nate Huckaby lifted a sacrifice fly to center.

Huckaby and Todd finished with two RBI each for the Q-Dawgs.

Serra (2-8) has allowed nine or more runs in all eight setbacks this season. The ball clubs combined for nine errors.

Should West Hills and Foothills Christian (see below) both win their next two games, they will meet in a showdown for the pool and gain a championship berth in their flight of the Dickens-GMC.

Grossmont 14, Madison 5

LA MESA — Grossmont High junior Joaquin Baez became the lastest Foothiller to hit a grand slam, driving in six runs on the day.

“I felt really good at the plate,” Baez said. “I got a fastball. I didn’t see it land but I knew I squared it up really well but I didn’t know if it would get out or not. The dugout was going crazy. It was cool to see and just to be in the moment.

“We have an amazing offense with a ton of power but we’re also able to put up runs without the long ball. It’s amazing to watch our guys hit and put up the runs as we do.”

Grossmont scored eight times in the third inning, including an additional home run from Isaiah Gomez.

Mason Dirkes was credited with the victory as went over four innings, striking out one and walking one.

Caleb Hommel had a pair of hits, including a double.

Justin Brown had an RBI single in the first inning.

“This was a really good response from us after the loss (to Pt. Loma) yesterday,” Grossmont head coach Jordan Abruzzo said. “I am just really happy for Joaquin. He works really hard and he had a great game today.”

Monte Vista 4, Hilltop 1

CHULA VISTA — The Monte Vista Monarchs’ Ernie Arambula struck out nine and walked none over six frames and also got a pair of base hits and scored twice.

Jacob Savoy doubled in the top of the first for a 1-0 lead for the Monarchs, then Monte Vista picked up two in the third on a triple by Savoy.

“Yesterday’s loss it definitely fueled us today,” Savoy said. “Pitching, hitting and defense were all on point, and when they are, we should come out with a win every time. Everybody was smashing the ball today.

“I was aggressive today. We try to stay aggressive, especially when they are serving fastballs all game. Coach (Craig) Neu makes sure that we get in a lot of swings during our practices and our hitting coaches make sure that we’re taking quality swings.”

David Vega threw one inning in relief out of the bullpen for the save, his first of the season.

“I was ready for this start,” Arambula said. “We played at our top-level today. I was using my fastball to get them to foul off pitches and get them down 0-2, and for a strike three, I was throwing knuckleballs and breaking balls over the plate.”

The Monarchs led 4-0 when Hilltop scored in the fourth inning.

Monte Vista improved to 5-6 overall.

Foothills Christian 5, Chula Vista 1

CHULA VISTA — Foothills Christian first baseman Seth Gilbody collected a season-best four RBI on Thursday (Apr. 15), as the Knights moved to 2-0 in their flight of the Bill Dickens-GMC Classic by lassoing host Chula Vista, 5-1.

Gilbody took advantage of three walks issued by Chula Vista in the first inning, sending two of his teammates home with a base hit.

“I was able to get behind a fastball,” Gilbody said of the hit.

His book-end performance was capped with a 2-run double down the first baseline.

“Our sticks have been on a hot streak,” Gilbody said. “Chula Vista has some good pitching but we did a great job and pulled through.”

However, Gilbody’s first hit proved to be more than enough for Knights pitcher Taylor Casey, who ran his record to 4-1 by firing a complete-game 3-hitter. He struck out eight Spartans batters.

“My defense was going a great job behind me especially Billy Temple in center and Colby Johnson behind the plate,” Casey said. ” Colby and I have been playing together for the last four years and are on the same page when it comes to our pitch selection. We utilized the changeup today to throw some hitters off, as well as, a two-seam fastball. I’m happy with when I am at with my pitching but I wouldn’t be having the season I am having without my defense to back me up.”

Knights catcher Colby Johnson, the club leader in batting average and RBI, went 2-for-2 with two walks to reach base on all four of his trips to the plate. His is now hitting an even .500 this season.

“We were able to do the little things well today,” Johnson said. “Chula Vista’s pitchers were hitting their sports but we adjusted to the off-speed well and got some runs for Taylor.”

Kip Famolaro walked three times and scored three runs.

“Those free 90s were a big mistake with Colby hitting behind me,” Famolaro said. “This was a good matchup of talent because Chula Vista has good hitters and a clean defense, but when you have a guy like Taylor who gets hitters off-balance, it makes it easy on the defense. He’s a stud.”

Foothills Christian (8-3), a guest entry to the Dickens-GMC — GMC means Grossmont, Mesa, and City conference/leagues — is now 8-3 overall. With pool wins over Sweetwater, Mar Vista and West Hills, they would gain a berth in the championship game in their division.

Chula Vista (2-8), down 3-0, saw Ruben Meza drive in Randy Lopez-Acosta for the Spartans’ lone run inthe fifth.

San Diego HS 11, Mount Miguel 1

DOWNTOWN — The San Diego Cavers scored 11 unanswered runs, including a walk-off winner in the fifth inning to run-rule visiting Mount Miguel, 11-1, in Thursday’s (Apr. 15) Dickens-GMC Classic game.

The Matadors  (2-8) needed just two minutes to score. Johnathan Trader opened with a single, coming around on an error then an RBI by Daniel Landry on a ground ball to the right side.

The rest was a dumpster fire.

The Cavers answered to post a 10-1 lead through three frames before invoking the mercy rule in the fifth.

Pitcher Max Weiner tossed a 2-hitter, while Cesar Cisneros registered three RBI to help San Diego (4-6-1) snap a 4-game losing streak.

The contest was the first at the downtown campus since Tuesday when a fugitive holed up in a dumpster with a hostage was killed by the San Diego Police Department.

Hoover 7, ECVHS 0

KENSINGTON — At historic Ted Williams Field, the Hoover Cardinals bounced back from a 23-6 loss to CV-High Tech by blanking El Cajon Valley, 7-0, Thursday (Apr. 15). in a tournament contest.

Joel Rivera, a 6-foot-4 right-hander, stopped the Braves on just two hits, striking out 10 batters in his six innings.

The no-hit bud ended on three pitches in as Ruben Casio opened the ballgame by smashing a double. With Rivera gone in the seventh, the Braves’ Rikki Ortiz greeted the bullpen with another double.

For “Hoo-rah” (the team’s pet name), designated hitter Carlos Dupont went 3-for-4 with a walk and scoring twice.

Rivera and left fielder Tyrone McCoy also added two base hits each, lifting the Cardinals’ mark to 4-7 overall. ECVHS fell to 1-6

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