East County Sports

HILLS: Highlander win shakes up race

2021 EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL

 

By Nick Pellegrino
EastCountySports.com

GRANITE HILLS —- Solid pitching and a pair of key home runs for an important win that affected the entire Grossmont Hills League.

No, it wasn’t the usual formula for the Grossmont Foothillers, instead, it was the four-time defending GHL champion Helix Highlanders who followed the familiar strategy, taking down front-running Granite Hills, 3-1, to throw the GHL ace into a frenzy.

Ben Haar and Wyatt Laub both smacked third-inning homers in support of Laub’s pitching, Ge carried a 4-hit shutout into the seventh inning, finally surviving after the Eagles loaded the bases in an attempt to force extra innings.

For Laub, the victory was just his second of the season after moving into the Helix starting rotation at midseason.

“It was a great feeling going to Granite and being able to come out with the win,” Laub said. We’ve been able to compete very well the last couple of games and I think that’s something that will continue for the rest of this season and on through next season.”

Meanwhile, Granite Hills pitcher Chandler Henry yielded just three hits over five frames, but two of them left the ballpark.

All three Helix hits — all for extra bases — came in the decisive fourth inning.

Trevor Young smacked a lead double on a liner to center field., moving to third base on a smart grounder to the right side by Aidan Perez.

However, the small-ball strategy to end the scoreless contest went by the wayside when Haar hammered a two-out, line-shot to center. Ten with two down, Laub slapped the over the barrier in left field for a 3-0 advantage.

“I was looking for a pitch up in the zone to score the runner from third and got a good pitch in my zone and put it up in the air.,” Haar said. “Wyatt Laub did a great job today and had six innings of shutout ball against a very good team,.”

Laub was solid for six frames but lost an edge in the seventh as his pitch count increased.

“That homer from Ben was great,” Laub said. “It was a great approach from Ben to go the other way with the pitch and give me some run support”

One out away from a victory, Austin Smith ruined the shutout bid with an RBI double. Then things really got interesting.

Camden Sos was hit by a pitch, then Spencer Davis reached on an error to load the bases.

Then the Eagles’ hearts rose and fell in a split second as Grant Mac Arthur smashed a line drive to center field, but Helix defender Anthony Matthiesen was there to clinch the triumph.

“(Henry) threw great but we were able to put a couple on and that happened to be enough,” Laub added. “In my last inning there was a little bit of trouble but I was glad coach (Cole) Holland had the faith in me to let me go because I knew that was my game to finish and I was going to get the job done.”

Helix, which will finish in fourth place in the GHL, is now 11-14 overall (5-7 in league).

Granite Hills (19-7, 10-2 GHL), which entered having won 11 of its last 12 contests, saw a 5-game win streak snapped. They fall into a first-place deadlock after Grossmont upended Steele Canyon, 6-4, to all-but-mathematically eliminate the Cougars from the pennant race.

Grossmont 6, Steele Canyon 4

EL CAJON —- Grossmont senior Evan Vasiliou re-claimed the CIF San Diego Section lead in pitching victories this season with his ninth, going the distance to fuel the Foothillers over visiting Steele Canyon, 6-4, in Wednesday’s (May 26) important Grossmont Hills League clash.

Coupled with Helix’s upset win over Granite Hills, Grossmont and Granite Hills are again share first place in the GHL with three contests remaining. Included is a head-to-head showdown next Tuesday (June 1), also at Gizoni Field.

Vasiliou struck out 12 Cougars batters while allowing four runs (two earned) to keep his pitching record unblemished.

“I think we are a hard team to beat when we are firing on all cylinders,” Vasiliou said. “Our bats are definitely showing up for us when we need them in big situations. Steele is a good team but when we  are functioning as one, it’s hard to beat us.”

Meanwhile, Grossmont home run leaders Isaiah Gomez and Caleb Hommel both went deep, smacking back-to-back jacks in the fourth inning.

Gomez went deep to right field, also scoring Noah Barnes (lead single), for his 11th long-ball of the season. The senior is again tied for second place in the CIFSDS in homers, two behind Eastlake slugger Marcelo Mayer (13).

The Gomez homer gave the Hillers the lead at 2-1, Moments later, Hommel took out an 0-1 pitch, also to right, for his eighth of the campaign.

“A great team win today with Even pitching a great game and the offense providing some great run support,” Gomez said.

Steele Canyon shook off the homers in the decisive fifth inning, scoring three times to knot the ballgame at 4-all. But Grossmont bounced back with two markers in the half-half of the frame to win it.

The Cougars got even on a wild pitch and an error. However, the Hillers bounded back when Barnes and Gomez blasted consecutive doubles for the lead. Gomez moved to third on a Steele Canyon wild pitch, scoring on a basehit from Hommel.

Vasiliou then survived two Grossmont mistakes (an error and a dropped third strike) in the seventh to strand the potential game-tying runners.

For Grossmont (24-4 overall, 10-2 GHL), both Gomez and Barnes batted 2-for-3 among the ballclub’s nine hits.

Steele Canyon (17-9, 8-4 GHL) received RBI from Jake Entrekin and Taylor Corella, but the Cougars were all-but-mathematically eliminated from the pennant race.

West Hills 13, Valhalla 7

RANCHO SAN DIEGO —- West Hills tallied seven straight runs to unlock a 3-3 contest, skating to a Grossmont Hills League triumph over Valhalla, 13-7, on Wednesday (May 27). The decision broke the fifth-place deadlock between the ballclubs, as the Wolf Pack took the season series, 2-1, as the road team took each outing.

A half-dozen West Hills players — Kyle Dobyns, Ryan Parker, Aaron Petersen, Ryan Rodgers, Jacob Villanueva, and Conner Tanga — drove in one run, as the other seven runs came home on various mistakes (errors, passed balls, wild pitches).

Tied at 3-all, Ryan Parker gave West Hills the lead for keeps with a two-run double in the fourth inning., Parker scored moments later on a Kyle Dobyns single.

Valhalla’s best chance to stay within striking distance came in the fifth inning, but the West Hills defense escaped by turning an inning-ending double play on a grounder to Villanueva at second base. Shortstop Ryan Parker made the pivot and throw to Ryan Rodgers at first base.

Rodgers paced the offense by batting 4-for-5, while Dobyns, Parker,and Tanga each added two hits for West Hills (12-14 overall, 2-10 GHL).

Valhalla (5-20, 1-11 GHL) received two hits from senior Alberto  Alvarez. The Norsemen lost their 20th game for the first time since 2012.

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