East County Sports

Cougars knock down Hillers; Eagles win



By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

EL CAJON —- The “other four” teams in the Grossmont Hills League are sick and tired about hearing and reading nothing but “Grossmont this” and “Granite Hills that.” These four ball clubs possess their own agendas and were determined to show they can compete with the so-called big boys.

While Helix finally looked like the defending league champions in a narrow 4-1 setback to Granite Hills, the real winner on the day was Steele Canyon when it was the Cougars — not the Foothillers– ended the day with a share of the league lead after out-slugging the Grossmont, 9-8 in 8 innings.

Steele Canyon 9, Grossmont 8 (8 inn.)

RANCHO SAN DIEGO —- A heavyweight fight with both sides swinging mighty swords went back-and-forth until Steele Canyon tallied single runs in the seven and eight innings to upend second-ranked Grossmont, 9-8, in Wednesday’s (May 5) slugfest.

The triumph catapulted the Cougars into a first-place deadlock with Granite Hills, leaving the Foothillers playing catch-up at one game behind.

“This was a fun but stressful game,” Steele Canyon head coach Jesse Evans said. “This was a huge win for us. Right up there with taking down Saints (on the road). We have a very passionate group with a lot of heart and we had different guys step up today.

Grossmont meets Granite Hills in a two-game series next week, so was it a look-ahead situation or is Steele Canyon really that good.

“This game was intense,” Steele Canyon’s Sebastian Granados said. “These are the games you play for. It’s bloody and each team is punching back until it’s over.”

The Hillers jumped to a commanding 4-0 lead before Steele Canyon got a chance to swing the bats, yet the Cougars answered with three runs in the wild first inning, then four more markers in the third for a 7-4 lead.

Grossmont battled back, including three runs in the fifth to regain the advantage at 8-7 before the final splurge by Steele Canyon.

First baseman Jake Entrekin went 3-for-4 with two RBI from the No. 8 slot. Entrekin wasn’t in any slump — his batting average now stands at .455 — but the Cougars searched for a way to get more production from the entire lineup card now not just the 3-4-5 holes.

“I wouldn’t say we played our cleanest game of the year, we were just punching the whole way,” Entrekin said. “We hit well today off a solid arm. Whether we get the recognition or not, we’re a top team in the county.

In addition, Weston Clark, Ray Marrero, and Tommy Molina also added two hits each.

Marero’s knock tied the game at 8-all in the last of the seventh.

“My mindset was just to put the bat on the ball,” Marero said. “I got a pitch that I like and hit it right up the middle. We were happy to win a game against one of California’s top teams.

Clark’s hit proved to be the game-winner, coming with a full count.

“All I was thinking was drive the ball into a gap, which is what I did,” Clark said. “As soon as I hit it, I knew it was game over because we had a very fast runner on second. After I hit it, I turned to see my team running at me and I was knocked down and trampled.”

Grossmont also saw three players — Joaquin Baez, Isaiah Gomez, and Barron Zamora — record two hits, but Steele Canyon pitchers were able to keep the ball inside the ballpark.

“I ad my worst first inning but I knew my boys had my back,” Steele Canyon starter Vencel Kalasho said.  “The beauty of this team is that every single player will fight to pick up anyone as they did for me today. Our pitchers were brought into some tough positions but did their job, as well as, our hitters coming in clutch with the bats.”

Steele Canyon sent out five pitchers with Granados getting the win, striking out two in the top of the eighth.

“Brandon Jackel had a rough start in relief then got the feel back and we dominated from there,” Granados said. “Gabe Diaz shut the door for an inning, and Sam Rocha coming in with bases loaded and no outs, shoving with his nasty two-seam and changeup.

Rocha also struck out two in his frame against the mighty Hillers, coaxing a ground out to end the threat.

“It feels good to gain trust from my coach to give me the ball in these big situations to shut the other team’s offense down and shift the energy to our side and make a comeback,” Rocha said. “Coach told me, if I can get us out of this (bases-loaded jam), we’ll win the game.”

Granite Hills 4, Helix 1
LA MESA —- The four-time defending Grossmont Hills League champion Helix Highlanders received solid pitching from four arms, but the single arm of Granite Hills starter Chandler Henry proved too much.Henry registered eight strikeouts without a walk over six even-more-solid innings, keeping the Eagles (12-5 overall) perfect in three GHL starts.While Helix was hitting the ball for power, including a triple by Anthony Matthiesen, once again, Granite Hills displayed just a touch more, as a fourth-inning, 2-run  homer by Grant MacArthur proved to be the eventual difference.”I missed one with a fastball middle-middle and they put a good swing on it with a triple off the wall then a ground ball got the guy in,”  Henry said. “I wasn’t rattled at all. I was comfortable on the mound and mixed my mistake immediately.

With the Eagles leading early on the first of two RBI singles by Cody Macias, Spencer Davis opened the fourth with another base hit. MacArthur then drilled a 1-1 pitch out to center field for a 3-0 advantage.

Even on defense, one could argue that Helix performed better, including a third-ining double play when second baseman Cameron Tarling snared a line drive, then threw the ball behind the runner at second, where shortstop David Blome was waiting  Tarling also hit a double.

For Granite Hills, Davis pitched the seventh to register the save.

“Chandler threw a great game which let our offense take advantage,” Davis said. “I wasn’t trying to do too much, just let my defense work and end the game efficiently. Grant came up clutch with the two-run blast.”

Helix (6-10, 0-3 GHL) for its lone run saw Matthiesen open the fourth with his triple, scoring on a ground ball by Noah Hamilton.


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