East County Sports

Ponciano pitches to positive side



By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

GRANITE HILLS —- East County’s top pitcher with the least results to show for it could well be Noa Ponciano of Granite Hills.

Ponciano, a senior, has ranked among the region’s leaders in earned-run average and strikeouts all season, but because of the depth in the Grossmont Hills League, he entered the postseason with a record of just 6-4.

Perhaps the CIF San Diego Section playoffs could be just what the right-hander has been waiting for.

On Wednesday (June 9), Ponciano fired his second consecutive shutout, elevating the Eagles over Bonita Vista, 7-0, in the first round of the CIF-San Diego Section Division I playoffs.

Ponciano, coming off a 7-hit blanking of Valhalla, did even better against the Barons in tossing a 3-hitter, striking out four batters.

“I was just doing my job on the mound for my team, giving them a chance to put up some runs and to work together for a win,” Ponciano said. “Coach (James) Davis gave us a good speech after the win talking to us about working hard every game to give us a chance to keep going.”

Life for Ponciano became easy early after Granite Hills tallied five times in the third inning.

After loading the bases with one down, Ethan McNish-Heider was hit by a pitch for what turned out to be the game-winning RBI.

Camden Sos followed by clearing the loaded bases with a double over the centerfielder to push the advantage to 4-0.

For the Eagles, the top two batters in their batting order — Austin Smith and Spencer Davis — each collected two hits, while Grant MacArthur slugged an RBI double for the final run in the fourth.

“I definitely saw the ball well today,” Davis said. “We played a great game today. Ponce pitched great. The defense did its job and we were able to get the bats going. A great team effort today.”

Smith drove in the final run in the sixth.

“We came with a lot of intensity and played a great game,” Smith said. “Ponce pitched great on the mound and we swung the bat well.”

Meanwhile, the defense erased a leadoff walk in the top of the fourth with an inning-ending double play, as Davis at second base tossed the ball to Sos the shortstop, who made the pivot and fired to first baseman Tanner to maintain the momentum after just securing the 5-0 lead.

“Coach Davis always has his guys prepared,” Bonita Vista head coach Dave Palet said. “Granite played great, error-free defense. Our guys looked tired and didn’t play up to their ability. We’re capable of playing better. Our goal is to face Granite Hills down the road.”

Granite Hills (21-5 overall) advances to the winner’s bracket semifinals, hosting Westview. The Wolverines (18-12) moved forward by whipping the Classical Academy Caimans, 10-1.

Division I

Point Loma 7, Helix 0

POINT LOMA —- After allowing a one-out single in the first inning, Point Loma pitcher Hunter Hargett did not allow another hit over the final 6 2/3 innings to paced the pointers to a CIF playoffs victory over visiting Helix.

Hargett, a senior, somehow managed to remain under the pitch limit after striking out six Highlanders batters but also walking seven in his complete-game effort.

The lone Scotties hit was registered by Ben Haar, who directed the first pitch hard on the ground and into center field.

Helix saw other early scoring chances, including three walks to load the bases n the second, then stranding a runner in scoring position on an inning-ending double play by Point Loma. The defensive play turned the tide, as the Pointers responded by scoring two runs in the third, fourth, and fifth innings to end the scoreless pitchers’ duel.

Keys hits were an RBI double in Kien Vu to open the scoring in the third, then consecutive RBI doubles by Liam Watters and John “Jet” Taylor in the fourth, then.

Helix (15-15 overall) heads to Friday’s Division I elimination game at Madison. The Warhawks fell to Poway, 5-3.

Point Loma (19-12), the second seed, will host Poway in the winner’s bracket.


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