East County Sports

Monarchs shake up Valley League race

Chico State-bound senior Ernie Arambula bats against Mount Miguel on Monday. / MVHS Athletics

2021 EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL

 

By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

 

SPRING VALLEY —- The last time Monte Vista High captured a league pennant in baseball, none of the current ballplayers were yet to be born.

The year was 2001, when the Monarchs (13-13 overall) shared the crown in the old Grossmont South League with Helix, both sporting 8-4 marks.

Among the school’s standouts was right fielder Joey Metropoulos, the East County Player of the Year, who went on to play four seasons for USC, then parts of four seasons at A-ball in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.

Other name Monarchs included first baseman Kyle Phillips, the East County rookie of the year, and other All-East County performers in outfielder Gino Puerile, catcher Sean Hull and pitcher Mike McDole.

Twenty years later, look who is surprisingly sharing the lead of the Grossmont Valley League.

On Monday (May 17), Monte Vista pushed across single runs in the fifth and seventh innings, gaining a 2-1 walk-off victory over city rival Mount Miguel. The decision lifted the Monarchs (5-1 in league) in a virtual deadlock with idle Santana (4-0); the Sultans contest at El Cajon Valley was again listed as postponed, although Grossmont District athletic officials will need to decide if a forfeit should be awarded.

Either way, the ballclubs are even in the Games Behind column heading into a two-game showdown series, opening Wednesday in Santee. When the teams meet, the Sultans have a new weapon to worry about in Monte Vista right fielder Isaiah Hilke, who drove in both runs to down the Matadors.

“Isaiah was definitely the player of the game,” said Mount Miguel coach Frank Coit. “He not only knocked in both runs, but he also made a diving catch in right field which was also a game-changer.”

Hustle on the base paths directly led to both Monte Vista runs in the pitchers’ duel between the Monarchs; Andy Canedo and the Matadors’ Thomas Ringer.

“It was a really well-fought game down to the nitty-gritty of baseball,” Ringer said. “It was a game full of drama.”

Mount Miguel needed only four batters to score, with Ringer, the cleanup batter, doubling home Jeremiah Castillo (lead single). Canedo then finished with 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball, yielding just one other hit the rest of the way by striking out 13 batters.

“Canedo was just too much for us,” added Coit. “We have five underclassmen in our lineup and they’re just not ready for a kid as good as Canedo.”

In the fifth, Ernie Arambula, who announced his commitment to Chico State earlier in the day, stroked a lead single, advancing into scoring position on a ground out. Then with two out, Hilke hit a roller to third base, beating the throw to first base for the game-tying run.

“It was a swinging bunt — Ringer threw a slider away, but the ball just popped into the ground and rolled maybe 6-to-8 feet down the third-base line,” Coit noted. “It was perfectly placed — no one had a chance to field it, so the runner easily came in to score.”

In the seventh, David Vega, the Monarchs’ season-long leadoff batter, again demonstrated why he’s at the top of the lineup card.

Vega again reached base with a lead walk but was still stuck at first following a pair of flyouts. With cleanup batter Jacob Savoy at the plate, Vega stole second base, so Savoy was intentionally walked.

However, Hilke capped his big outing with a line single to right field. Vega, running on contact with two down, came home as a potentially close play at the plate was nullified when the relay throw air-mailed the plate.

For Hilke, it was only his fifth appearance of the season. yet there appears to be no rust — he’s batting .412 (7-for-17).

“I was just trying to put the ball in play with two outs and hopefully the ball would find a gap which it did,” Hilke said of his game-winning hit. “I felt I did the job by putting the ball in play and make the defense work.”

The walk-off hit made a winner of Canedo, who struck out five straight batters (and 6-of-7) following Ringer’s RBI double.

“It was a boom-boom ballgame,” added Coit. “Both pitchers were on top of their game, allowing just three hits each. Both teams played their butts off.”

Also earlier in the day on Monday, Canedo, who is headed to UC Riverside, was recognized by the Grossmont District as Monte Vista’s male sportsmanship award winner for the year.

Braves out

El Cajon Valley has vacated the balance of its schedule because of a lack of players.However, instead of forfeits being awarded for the rest of the season, some teams are rescheduling.

Mount Miguel announced two additional contests against El Capitan, starting Friday on the Matadors diamond. Game Two will be held June 3 at Hostetler Field in Lakeside, with both results counting in the GVL standings.

It is anticipated that Santana will add two contests with Monte Vista to leave all remaining GVL clubs with an equal total of 12 games, although it won’t be a traditional balanced schedule.

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