East County Sports

GHL: Foothillers find answer for Cougars

2021 EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL

By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

EL CAJON —- In a mirror-like start from Wednesday’s series opener, this time it was Steele Canyon which quickly pounced for four runs before the home team took its first hacks at the plate.

Still, the hosts would stage a late rally to win after Grossmont tallied six unanswered runs to down the Cougars, 6-4, to gain a split of the teams’ Grossmont Hills League series. Five of the runs came in the Hillers’ final at-bat in the sixth inning.

“I’m not sure why anyone thinks Steele Canyon is an underdog,” Grossmont High head coach Jordan Abruzzo said. “They have earned every bit of respect from us and should from everyone else, as well. They are really good. I’m just proud of our guys for battling and finding a way to win.”

Grossmont ace Evan Vasiliou was tagged for four quick runs (three earned) after just four batters. The UC Irvine-bound senior then settled in and fired seven shutout innings while waiting for his team to rally.

And just as Steele Canyon did in the week’s first match-up, it took Grossmont all contest before finally battling back to take the lead in the sixth.

The Cougars might call it a give-away after allowing three walks to load the bases with one down. But Grossmont is ranked No. 2 in the CIF-San Diego Section for a good reason: clutch hitting.

Reggie Williams and Vasiliou followed with consecutive, run-scoring singles to trim the deficit to 4-3.

Steele Canyon still had a chance to cling to the lead, but not with East County batting leader Isaiah Gomez up next.  Entering the week hitting over .600 and held to an 0-for-3 on the day, Gomez found a hole on a hard grounder to left field, bringing home Max Cadwalader and Williams with the game-tying and go-ahead runs.

Outside of the four hits in the sixth, Grossmont managed just two other hits yet found a win to come out on top.

Steele Canyon’s fast start saw Sebastian Granados sing to right field on an 0-2 pitch, then Weston Clark reached on an error.

No. 3 hitter Jake Entrekin then scored on a single to center to open the scoring, then Tommy Molina pumped out his second 3-run homer in seven days for a 4-0 cushion.

The momentum remained with the Cougars when second baseman Nate Custeau started a double play in the bottom of the first. Custeau made the grab, touched second base, then threw to Molina at first base to erase a lead walk.

“It was pretty hard to swallow the fact that we started well and then let the game slip away,” Molina said. “Both games were really good and both teams fought hard to win. Being able to hit off good pitching feels great and it feels good to come through when my team needs it.”

The ball clubs are now tied for second place at 3-1 in GHL play, one full game behind Granite Hills.

On Monday, Grossmont (16-3 overall) and Granite Hills open a key, 2-game series, starting at 4 p.m. at “the top of the Grossmont summit.” On the same day, Steele Canyon (12-6) starts an away-and-home set with Valhalla.

“We’re one of the top teams in the East County and we’re going to shock people,” Granados said. “Time to move on and focus for Monday’s game.”

Granite Hills 6, Helix 2

EL CAJON —- Granite Hills shortstop Camden Sos drove in three runs, while third baseman Grant MacArthur drove in two, leading the first-place Eagles to a 6-2 decision over Helix in Grossmont Hills League play Friday (May 7).

Sos, who had been batting in the top third of the batting order all season, is now finding greater success in the No. 6 slot.  His first varsity homer opened the second inning for a 3-0 led, then Sos added a 2-run single in the fourth for a 4-1 cushion.

Sos now has more career homers in high school ball (1-to-0) than his more power-hitting prolific father, Brian Sos, the career home run king for both Grossmont College and the San Diego Stars semipro baseball club.

Sos came up with two runners in scoring position after a lead single by MacArthur, moving to third on an Ethan McNish-Heider double. With Sos up next, there was no need to walk the sophomore… until he belted the first pitch over the center-field fence.

Meanwhile, Eagles starting pitcher Noa Ponciano yielded just one earned run over his six-plus innings, which actually raised his brilliant earned-run average up a tick to 1.13. Ponciano struck out nine Highlanders batters, but after a lead walk in the seventh, Spencer Davis entered to register the final three outs in order.

“Ponce had a great game on the mound but that’s expected at this point,” MacArthur said. “Our bats are hot and when the whole team is hot, it is hard to stop us. Hopefully, we can continue this streak against Grossmont on Monday.”

For Granite Hills (14-5 overall, 4-0 GHL), MacArthur and center fielder Austin Smith collected three hits each, including a solo home run, as he scored scoring twice from the leadoff spot.

“It felt good to finally leave the yard,” Smith said of his round-tripper. “We got 11 hits and that’s what we need to keep playing our type of baseball.

Helix (6-11, 4-0 GHL) received a two-out, solo homer from James Whitman in the third, then Aidan Perez belted a lead double in the sixth, later scoring on an error.

Valhalla 12, West Hills 2

SANTEE —- The Valhalla Norsemen snapped an unsightly, six-game losing streak with their second-most prolific offensive display of the season to knock out host West Hills, 12-2, in GHL action Friday (May 7).

Norsemen centerfielder Trey Henige registered four RBI, including a two-run double to cap a 2-for-4 outing at the plate.

Colin Scribner finished with three hits, while Nick Medrano and Chris Madigan had two hits each. Madigan also scored three times.

West Hills scored on an error in the second, but Valhallabounced back with three markers in the third, then five more in the fourth for an 8-1 cushion.

The only other Wolf Pack run saw pinch-hitter Ezekiel Sadler lift a sacrifice fly to score Ryan Parker (walk) in the fifth. For Sadler, it was his first career varsity RBI.

Norsemen pitcher Matty Tellous struck out four Wolf Pack batters in his complete-game effort.

Valhalla (5-12 overall, 1-3 GHL) previous best was 18 runs against San Diego in the second game of the season on Mar. 24th

West Hills (11-7, 1-3 GHL) are tied with the Norsemen for fourth place, one game ahead of four-time defending GHL champion Helix.

The last time either school finished above the Scotties in the standings was 2014 by Valhalla (the only time since 2008). With the creation of the Hills League in 2010, West Hills has never finished above the Scotties; they were always in different leagues from 1990 to 2009.

The Wolf Pack will host Helix on Monday to open a two-game, home-and-home series.

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