East County Sports

Highlanders produce in time for playoffs

2021 EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL

By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

SCRIPPS RANCH —- A season that opened like a lamb, could produce a radically different result for the Helix Highlanders.

Back in March, two-thirds of the batting order was batting under .200 in a revolving door of players at several positions. Today, following late-season victories over a pair of Top Ten teams in Grossmont and Granite Hills, the CIF playoffs may prove to be an entirely different animal.

On Tuesday (June 8), the Scotties posted their biggest offensive output of the season, scoring 12 times to rally from a 3-1 deficit to double-up host Scripps Ranch, 12-6, in the Division I play-in game to the CIF-San Diego Section championships.

A scoreless pitchers’ duel lasted until the fourth inning, as the Falcons took a 2-run lead. But from that moment on, the Helix bats could not be stopped, registering 11 runs over the final three innings to turn a nail-biter into a romp.

“I’m proud of our toughness today,” Helix head coach Cole Holland said. “We fought hard. It’s tough to score there.”

Everyone from throughout the line-op contributed, including center fielder Anthony Matthiesen, who batted 2-for-4 and scored three times. e  also drove in two runs, as did Trevor Young and Ben Haar.

“We had a great team win today against a good Scripps Ranch team,” Matthiesen said. “Ben has done a great job at the plate. As a team, we always try to get the word around about what we are seeing from pitchers. We were fortunate enough to be able to see two of the arms in the previous matchup against Scripps Ranch and show up with a game plan.”

As soon as Scripps Ranch took the lead, Helix rebounded with five runs in the fifth. The first three batters reach on a single and two walks, then Matthiesen tied the contest by ripping a two-run double to center.

Moments later, Valentine Jimenez lifted a sacrifice fly for a 4-3 lead. And when Haar added a two-out, two-run single to cap the rally, the advantage leaped to 7-3.

However, unlike earlier in the season, the Highlanders were able to add on.

“We have really developed as a whole and it gives my teammates and me the confidence to be able to compete during CIF playoffs,” Matthiesen said.

An error and five walks led to three more runs without the aid of a basehit in the sixth. An inning later, singles by Wyatt Laub, Matthiesen, and Demarae Woods made it an even dozen runs.

Starting pitcher Layton Wirschem left after four innings, yet gained the victory after Helix took the lead in the fifth.

With the triumph, the 10th-seeded Scotties (15-14 overall) gained entry into the main draw, meeting second-seeded Point Loma on Wednesday.

“We just are not playing timid or scared,” Holland said of the matchup with the Pointers. “This is a game. Treat it like a game. Just compete.”

Point Loma is ranked 18th in the county media poll entering the playoffs.

“The Pointers are a very tough team,” Matthiesen said. “We will need to play tight defense, find ways to get on base, and have timely hitting.”

Scripps Ranch (12-16), the No. 7 seed, received two hits from third baseman T.J. Bibler.

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