East County Sports

Cougars deny Saints again, reach D2 final

2021 EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL

SAN DIEGO CIF DIVISION II PLAYOFFS

STEELE CANYON 10, ST. AUGUSTINE 4

 

 

By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

KEARNY MESA —- Somebody told the ballplayers comprising the Steele Canyon Cougars about the strong reputation held by St. Augustine, the top seed in the CIF San Diego Section Division II baseball championship.

Despite a parade of league titles, 20-win seasons, and a list of All-CIF players spanning decades, there is one thing the Saints, surprisingly, do not own: a CIF championship.

And the Cougars didn’t want to be the first team to allow them to claim their missing piece of jewelry.

On Tuesday (June 15), Steele Canyon erupted for three first-inning runs, eventually mounting an 8-1 advantage in handing St. Augustine a third loss this season at the claws of the Cougars, 10-4, at Hickman Field.

The victory awarded the Cougars a berth in Saturday’s finale to be held at Poway High at noon. The club will meet second seed Carlsbad, which, like Steele Canyon, went unbeaten in its half of the draw; the Lancers nipped Mission Hills, 1-0 in 8 innings on Tuesday.

Steele Canyon’s Vencel Kalasho fought off the effects of the heat before hitting the 100-pitch count after 4 1/3 innings.

But it was good for the victory as Cannon Restine entered to strike out five Saints batters over the final 2 2/3 frames for an impressive save – his second in as many games against Saints.

Holding the early lead helps, too.

“It felt great pitching with a lead the whole game,” Kalasho said. “It’s a blessing, especially when you are pitching to a great team. It just gives me a lot of confidence in what I throw. The offense just keeps putting runs up on the board early which gets us through the game with high intensity.

The opening rally saw the first three batters reach to start the contest, with Taylor Corella eventually slapping an RBI single. The other two runs came home on a costly two-out error and a single by Ray Marrero.

Then at 3-1, the Cougars posted three straight multiple-run innings in frames 4-to-6 to pull away.

“I held them down for a while going up against some good buddies of mine (on Saints) but it was a great time,” Kalasho added. “Our defense has been solid and made some game-changing plays today, which always helps. We have one more game to finish and I’ll be able to say we had a solid season after this CIF game.”

Weston Clark provided a two-run single in the fourth, then a bases-loaded walk in the fifth. The fifth also saw another Saints error for a run, then a sacrifice fly by Sebastian Granados (2-for-3).

In the sixth, Will James provided a two-run triple with two down as the clincher.

For Steele Canyon (22-10), Clark and Marrero posted two hits each.

“This has been a great year for Steele,” said Steele Canyon’s Jake Entrekin, who singled home a run in the fifth. “We tied the win record and we easily have the best Steele team since I’ve been here. Hopefully, we can take home our school’s first CIF banner in baseball and be part of something cool.”

St. Augustine (24-8-1) saw cleanup batter Trevor Fox bat 3-for-4, while Jakob Christian and Ariel Armas both had two hits.

“This year’s team is filled with fun and great chemistry,” said Steele Canyon senior pitcher Sebastian Granados, who went 2-0 against Saints this season, allowing just one unearned run, with 26 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings pitched. “It’s the team you want to be playing for and I think that’s a big reason for the success we’re having.”

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