East County Sports

HILLS: Top of table teams score big

Steele Canyon's Gabe Diaz pitcher gets ready to deliver on Friday. / photo by Vic Marano

2021 EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL

 

By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

EL CAJON —- The top half of the Grossmont Hills League gave the ballclubs in the second division several lessons on the game of hardball, all posting decisive decisions in an ugly Friday (May 21) afternoon of action as the second round of league play came to a conclusion.

Grossmont 10, Helix 3

EL CAJON —- Grossmont High senior Max Cadwalader became the eighth member of the Foothillers to slug a home run this season, thumping visiting Helix, 10-3, in Friday’s (May 21) battle between Grossmont Hills League rivals.

Hillers hitters have posted 35 homers this season, as they seek the club record of 51, set in 2005. The 1997 and 2003 clubs also hit 50, while this season’s club is now chasing for the No. 4 spot of 42, set in 1998.

The Foothillers led throughout, scoring three times in the first inning, then two more in the second to pull in front early.

Because of the early lead, Grossmont pitcher Jaden Wilcox (6-2 record) was pulled after just three innings to save his arm for next week’s important, pennant-decided ballgames with Granite Hills and Steele Canyon,

Thus, four innings from out of the bullpen allowed by Jake Romero allowed the junior to garner the victory. Wilcox collected five strikeouts while Romero fanned three Highlanders batters.

On offense, Cadwalader led the way by driving in four runs with another Foothillers grand slam, while Isaiah Gomez knocked in a pair. Scoring twice were Caleb Hommel (2-for-3) and Evan Vasiliou.

“It was the greatest feeling ever,” Cadwalder said of joining the Foothillers’ grand slam club. “I think he did miss his location. He threw it inside and I just took advantage of it.”

Grossmont (22-4 overall, 8-2 GHL) continues to lead the CIF-San Diego Section in total victories.

Meanwhile, Hommel has taken over the GHL lead in batting average at .482, slipping ahead of Steele Canyon’s Jake Entrekin (.475) the Hillers’ Gomez (.460).

For Helix (10-13, 4-6 GHL), two of the Scotties’ runs came on solo home runs by Jake Perez and Trevor Young. The RBI was recorded by Wyatt Laub.

Steele Canyon 15, West Hills 1

SANTEE —- Already leading 5-1, Steele Canyon closed this romp with 10 unanswered runs, including an 8-spot in the sixth inning, to whip West Hills, 15-1, at Wolf Pack Park.

Cougars starting pitcher Gabe Diaz yielded just one unearned run over five innings of work, striking out four batters.

“My go-to pitch was the fastball and then I would work in the off-speed,” Diaz said. “The game plan was to just get ahead in the count on guys and let the defense do the work. I was pretty comfortable on the hill knowing my defense would be out there making plays for me.”

While the race for East County pitcher of the year consists of five main front-runners, the player of the year choices are growing, including senior Jake Entrekin of Steele Canyon.

Entrekin, the Cougars’ catcher, again posted a multiple-RBI outing, driving hin four runs in just missing in hitting for the cycle. He posted three legs of the batting achievement, including a home run to left field in the sixth but came a triple short when West Hills walked him in the seventh.

West Hills attempts a pickoff on Friday. / photo by Vic Marano

“I was just seeing it well today,” said Entrekin, the catcher. “Gabe tossed a good game for us today.”

About the only thing good for the Wolf Pack came after the walk, ending the inning on a round-the-horn double play. The ball was fielded by Evon Drake at third, who fired to Jacob Villanueva at second, who made the picot-and-throw to first baseman Ryan Rodgers.

The balance of the contest was all Cougars.

Weston Clark and Will James each posted two hits from the top third of the batting card, setting up Entrekin and others to drive them home. including a pair of RBI from left fielder Issac Vargas.

“I was getting mostly curveballs so all I was thinking was to let the ball get deep in the zone and drive it up the middle,” Clark said.

Ryan Magoon hit a home run for Steele Canyon.

Steele Canyon (16-8 overall, 7-3 GHL) remains in third place, two games behind first-place Granite Hills, but the Cougars still have one game left with both the Eagles and second-place Grossmont.

Granite Hills 20, Valhalla 0

GRANITE HILLS —- East County ERA leader Noa Ponciano only needed to pitch four innings to qualify for his sixth victory of the season, tossing a 4-hit shutout to arch-rival Valhalla, 20-0, in a GHL blowout on Friday (May 22).

The 20-run margin is the biggest loss by shutout in league play since the Norsemen opened their doors in the 1970s. Also, Helix once scored 30 runs on Valhalla on May 18, 1988 — nearly 33 years to the day.

Ponicano struck out six batters and yielded just two singles, while the bullpen — Nico Tomasello and Ryan Dobbs — also allowed just a pair of singles in tying down the Valhalla bats.

Ponicano was able to exit early and prepare for next week’s showdown games after Granite Hills tallied five runs in the first inning, then 10 additional runs in the second to lead by more than two touchdowns.

Just like in the Steele Canyon game, a batter just missed on hitting for the cycle as Ethan McNish-Heider batted 3-for-4 with a single, triple, and a home run. His long ball capped the 10-run rally — a two-run shot to left field which also scored Spencer Davis.

McNish-Heider finished with four RBI.

“This one felt good because we needed a boost as a team,” McNish-Heider said. “It was a good day.”

Three others — Austin Smith, Grant MacArthur, and Cody Macias  — each drove in two runs.

“We played great as a team,” MacArthur said. “We all contributed. It’s really fun to be a part of the team. We are on fire right now, and hopefully, we can stay hot going into the playoffs.”

Granite Hills (18-6 overall, 9-1 GHL) completes the second round of league play with a one-game lead on Grossmont. Next week, the Eagles face their three closest contenders — (in order) Helix, Grossmont, and Steele Canyon — to decide the league championship.

Meanwhile, Valhalla (5-18, 1-9 league) remains tied with West Hills, getting a chance to escape the cellar when the ballclubs meet on Wednesday in Rancho San Diego in the rubber game of their three-game series.

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