East County Sports

Bullpen woes, absences make long days



By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

EL CAJON — From youth baseball to the Major Leagues, an 8-run lead with two innings remaining should be enough to claim a victory.

But for the top-ranked Granite hills Eagles, a 12-4 cushion entering the sixth inning would not be enough, nor an assortment of other leads failed to survive in an awful day for bullpens throughout the East County.

Bonita Vista 16, Granite Hills 12 (8 inn.)

GRANITE HILLS — Allowing a pair of runs in the sixth wouldn’t normally pose a problem, especially for a ballclub like No. 1 ranked Granite Hills.

However, when the defense sprang several leaks in allowed a half-dozen unearned runs in the seventh to force extra innings, visiting Bonita Vista gladly accepted the free gifts, then tallied four times in the eighth for an unexpected 16-12 tournament triumph on Tuesday (Mar. 1).

“Playing the best team in San Diego like Granite Hills is great,” said Barons head coach Dave Palet, the former West Hills assistant who is better known as a national talk-radio host for Fox Sports. Getting a win against a team is something I hope we can build on.”

With the setback, the Eagles (3-1) are no longer unbeaten and figure to 50/50 to miss on gaining a berth in the tournament title contest. Of course, the month just turned and there are 10 weeks to follow before CIF sectional playoff action will start.

Granite Hills posted five consecutive multiple-run rallies to stake the pitching staff to a 12-4 advantage.

The offense was capped by a 2-run double by third baseman Grant Mac Arthur, who batted 4-for-5 with three RBI.

However, somebody raised the “Stop” sign and everything changed direction.

The Eagles’ offense managed just one hit over the final three frames, as the Barons bullpen of  Ty Vann (winner) and Aidan Millan (save) blanked the hosts.

A defensive miscue by Granite Hills opened the path to six unearned runs, while the pitchers failed to put out the fire.

In fact, through the first 3 1/2 games and 26 innings this season, the Eagles staff posted an earned-run average of less than three, Three innings later, it now stands at 4.10.

“What a crazy game!” exclaimed Mount Miguel head coach Frank Coit, who was following the contest via the Internet on his team’s early trip home from Riverside County (read below). “I am sure James (Davis, the Eagles coach) is quite unhappy.

“Still, it’s good for Dave Palet to get his guys to keep play hard to the last out, even when you’re down by eight.”

Bonita Vista saw Victor Castaneda bat 4-for-5 with five RBI, featuring a 2-run home run in the eighth.

Castaneda, the Barons’ second baseman, also forged extra innings with his defense, grabbing a line drive to start an inning-ending double play in the seventh.

“That was a big hit by Castaneda,” added Palet. “We also received big hits from Josh Bruce and in the eighth by Adiel Torres. Those were the never-say-attitude we needed from our senior leadership.”

Palet also noted Millan for both his hitting and ability to close the victory in relief.

For Granite Hills, it was the school’s highest-scoring ballgame in, well, 24 hours, as Monday’s affair with Classical Academy touted 30 total runs in a 26-4 thumping of the Caimans for a 21st Century high.

The previous high — prior to Monday, of course — was 23 in both a 16-7 victory over Ramona in 2016, and a loss by the same margin to Rancho Buena Vista in 2010.

For the Eagles, Mac Arthur (2 doubles) was joined by Spencer Davis with three RBI.

Mount Miguel at Temecula Valley, ppd.

TEMECULA —No umpires mean no game, but Mount Miguel still found some positives on their 2-hour-plus, round-trip bus excursion.

“Yes, he had a nice ‘team bonding’ trip,” Coit noted. “At least we had a great bus –they must’ve thought they were driving Eastlake or somebody.”

Temecula Valley officials called the local umpires association, but it reported no contest was ever scheduled. Oops.

Patrick Henry 9, San Pasqual 1

ESCONDIDO — Another downer day from the bullpen came from San Pasqual after Patrick Henry, clinging to a 2-1 lead, registered seven runs ver the final three frames to clip the host Golden Eagles. The high point was a 4-run rally in the sixth.

Sophomore Talin Gardini hit the first home run of the season for Patrick Henry

No information was reported by the undefeated Patriots (3-0 overall). San Pasqual dropped to 0-3.

Mira Mesa 4, Ramona 3

MIRA MESA — Speaking of bullpen woes, both the Ramona Bulldogs and Mira Mesa Marauders saw epic collapses in the seventh inning.

Mira Mesa allowed three runs in the final two innings to allow a 3-1 lead to slip away. However, the Dawgs followed suit in the home-half of the seventh, as Austin Flores singled home the

game-tying run, then Ramona walked Juan Valencia with the bases loaded walk to send everyone home to create a long trip up the mountain.

For the Marauders (1-3), it was their first win in four starts.

Ramona (1-2) only registered six hits, yet was able to score with smart use of the bat.

This was especially true in the late innings.

In the sixth, Isaac Garcia tripled in a run to trim the deficit to 3-2, then came home when Reed Gunnett internationally slapped a ground ball to tie the contest.

In the seventh, Ramona re-gained the lead on consecutive base hits, then a sacrifice fly off the bat of senior Jake Hayes.

Bulldogs pitcher Bryce Phipps tossed six innings with seven strikeouts but received a no-decision.

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