East County Sports

Knights’ forecast: 1901 Detroit Tigers?



By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

EL CAJON — The benefits for the Grossmont Conference to expand into three leagues composing of four schools each are obvious.

First, the CIF-San Diego Section decided that the champion of a 4-team circuit will gain an automatic bid into postseason play, guaranteeing that schools an automatic first-round home game (unless they play another first-place tea).

More postseason berths, a more balanced schedule void of many mismatches, better more competitive contests. The list goes on.

The questions remains: who will need to be added as school No. 12

Forty years ago, Christian was that school for the 1979-80 school year (except in football). However, detractors believed the Patriots would recruit too many student-athletes from their own programs — besides, at the time, Christian wasn’t very competitive.

Suggestions have been offered for Ramona, however Grossmont District officials have always preferred for a more closer-to-home program.

More than 40 years after the Christian High experiment fizzled, could the next member of the Grossmont Conference be Foothills Christian?

Unlike the Patriots teams of the early 80’s, Foothills Christian has became more than competitive with many or even mist if the Grossmont Valley League schools in most sports.

No one is suggesting that the Knights, at least in the short term, will battle with most successful Grossmont Hills League programs, but the extra team is currently needed on the low end of the scale.

Similar occurrences are happening through the county, with schools moving in or out of traditional locales.

Quick examples include: SD-High Tech keeps expanding more programs into the City Conference; and Orange Glen is all-but-out of the North County Conference and playing in several small-school circuits.

Even Foothills Christian, which proved naysayers wrong when boys basketball qualified for the first Open Division tournament, then defeat all of the traditional powers to become king of the section. The award for the Knights was inclusion into the Coastal League, the section’s top small-school league.

With some additional victories in baseball , the time may be sooner than later to watch the Knights meet Grossmont Conference schools on a regular basis.

Foothills Christian 8, El Capitan 7
SPRING VALLEY — Foothills Christian senior Seth Gilbody registered a game-winning, walk-off single to cap a truly miraculous Foothills Christian rally after the Knights scored seven times in its final at-bat to stun El Capitan, 8-7, in non-league action held at Mount Miguel High.

“That whole last at-bat was a blur for me,” said Gilbody, who actually struck out in his first plate appearance in the fateful frame, “When i got two strikes, I knew i had to do something to at least make contact. I used a two-strike approach (which) I learned my junior year.”

The 2-run basehit gave Foothills Christian its only lead on the afternoon. To make the play even more frustrating for El Cap, the knock wasn’t even a line drive.

“Iy was just a fly ball between the second baseman and right fielder,” he added about the flare/blooper over the infielder’s head. “Long story short, it ended up hitting the ground which allowed two people to get home winning us the game.”

In the seventh, despite allowing a walk and a hit batter, El Capitan registered a second out without anyone scoring. However, the Vaqueros never gained the final out, as if somebody suddenly hit the “off” switch to allow the next seven batters to reach base — without an error — to plate the seven runs.

The inning began with a Billy Temple walk, then Gilbody struck out — his thinking must’ve been his day was all-but-over — then John Popka was poked by a pitch. Zach Ortiz had a chance to really start te rally, but his low, line drive to left field was caught for the second out.

Then the remarkable achievement truly commenced.

Dylan Koenig drilled an RBI double to left to turn over the batting order, following by consecutive run-scoring singles by Colton White and Elijah Morr.

Colby Johnson lined a 2-run double to right field to trim the deficit to 7-6, followed by a pair of hit-by-pitches to Cash Morgan and Temple to re-load the bases.

Finally, Gilbody finished with — from an El Cap point-of-view — a frustrating flare over the head of the second baseman on an 0-2 pitch, scoring a pair in Johnson to tie and Morgan to win.

Popka became the winning pitcher. He entered when the Knights trailed, 5-1, yet kept his ballclub close with 4.2 inning of relief.

For the Vaqueros, Wyatt Carrillo, Bradley Larsen and Landon Harbach all registered two hits. In addition,Harbach and Jett Hayes stroked doubles, with Harbach’s was good for an RBI in a 4-run rally in the third.

The triumph evened Foothills Christian’s record to 1-1 this season against GVL ballclubs and a respectable 4-6 over the past three seasons.This year, the Knights are 3-4 overall; matching the mark as the Vaqueros.


Colby Johnson:

“This game was all about the team. Each one of us had to chip in one way or another. The first few innings got a little out of control but John (Popka) was able to come in on the mound and hold them off which gave us the opportunity to score in the last inning.
John Popka:
“Colby (Johnson) had the start and we all trust him to get the job done. But when I came in, I trusted my fielders 100 percent of the way. Just throw strikes and have the team make plays”

“Our team is very small, so if we need a pitcher, then we will make a pitcher out of anyone. Colby is one of the best catchers in San Diego and I would say the command of his pitches are really nasty, too.”

“We just fell short making plays in the field for him. We can learn from the mistakes and improve, come back and fight harder with every game.”

Foothills Footnotes… in history

In historical terms, no records are officially kept on the subject, but there is a footnote in Major League Baseball history.

At Detroit’s Bennett Park on Apr. 5, 1901, in the first game in the annuals of the Detroit Tigers franchise, the original Milwaukee Brewers (no association to the current ballclub) led the Tigers, 13-3, going into th home-half of the eighth innings.

Detroit rallied with a single run, but in the ninth when trailing 13-4, the hosts’ record comeback entailed an outburst of 10 runs to secure a wild 14-13 win. It remains the MLB mark.

Among the estimated 8,000 fans in attendance at the start of the season openver, few probably were left in the rickety, wooden stands to witness the vent.

It’s also inter resting to note that the baseball world was rejoicing Thursday (Mar. 10) when news of a labor settlement means MLB action will be played this season — the same day for the Knights’ feat to take place.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *