East County Sports

GMC: Spot starters needed for title runs

2022 EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL


By Nick Pellegrino

ECS staff writer

EL CAJON — There’s already a look-ahead segment of the prep baseball audience wondering how Grossmont Hills League ballclubs will do in contending for not only the league pennant but CIF-San Diego Section competition, too.

A key area of concern: what school fields the best pitching, not just among the aces for Tuesday/Thursday play, but more specifically, the best No. 3 starters for Fridays, considered a key component to ultimately become a champion.

In completing the fourth week of the season on Friday (Mar. 11), one of ballclubs with the biggest concern regarding possessing a complete, 3-man pitching rotation has been defending Division I titlist Granite Hills.

The reasons are simple. who will be ready, able, and available to fill this critical position?

Already an offensive juggernaut, the Eagles are averaging more than 11 runs per outing entering Friday’s meeting with Cathedral Catholic. However, winning playoff games in slug-fests isn’t a nominal formula for success.

More important, it was the first time this season Granite Hills would play for a third time in a single week, thus, the contest with the Dons could prove to be a pivotal preview on whether head coach James Davis’ ballclub can (or can not) contend once again.

Granite Hills 8, Cathedral Catholic 1
GRANITE HILLS.— When it came discovering a third starting pitcher, there was no place better to first look but to the bullpen.

Tanner Vielguth, a 6-foot-3 senior, and a spot starter who has performed in all phases — closer, set-up, and mop-up — out of the bullpen in his Granite Hills career, assured Eagles coaches that he could be the man.

Although he failed to overly dazzle, six solid innings of the 6-hit ball were far more than needed to chop down the Dons in a 7-1 decision. The triumph moved Granite Hills (6-1 overall) to 3-0 and the top of its pool in the annual Bill Dickens Memorial/GMC Tournament.

Vielguth’s first start against Classical Academy was considered not much of an exercise in a 26-2 romp. His next test was 2.2 no-hit innings against Madison.

However, being handed the ball to start against a traditional power made Vielguth was his real opportunity to become the Eagles’ spot starter.

Vielguth struck out seven Dons batters, making just a single mistake, as “Uni” clean-up batter Charlie Mirer smacked a solo homer in the third inning. But by then, the Eagles already owned an 8-0 cushion.

Vielguth finished by allowing just four hits over six innings, For his effort, Vielguth raised his earned-run average just a click to 0.55 over 12 innings

There were some early nerves after the Eagles started allowing two walks to open the contest, then a single to load the bases. However, he escaped on a fly ball to left fielder Ethan McNish-Heider to cap the first inning.

But when the tall right-hander took full control in the second with a 1-2-3 inning, he was rewarded when Granite Hills made Vielguth’s life easy by immediately answering with five runs in the second. An inning later, they placed Cathedral Catholic behind the 8-ball with three additional markers.

The first Eagle rally was similar to the Dons’ first trip to the plate, loading the bases on a pair of lead walks, then a hit batter to load the bases.

Noah Barnes followed with an RBI single for what proved to be the game-winning run, then a sacrifice fly from the top of the batting order by right fielder Jacob Embleton made it 2-0.

The sac fly left an open base for Grant Mac Arthur to fill with a walk — the Dons already know all about the slugger –but”Mac” was well-covered by Spencer Davis, who pounded the ball to left-center field for a resounding, 3-run double and a 5-0 advantage.

In the third, Vielguth helped himself with the first of consecutive RBI doubles with Cody Macias, who later came home on a two-out basehit by Embleton.

For Cathedral Catholic (3-5), Mirer, the first baseman, batted 2-for-4. The setback was the first of the tournament for the Dons, so they will need an Eagles win and some other tie-breaker help to reach the tournament title game.

Santana 3, Scripps Ranch 1
SANTEE — Counter to any question regarding the back-end of the Granite Hills pitching staff, conversely, the Santana Sultans need to make sure they score enough runs. On Friday (Mar. 11) against the pesky Scripps Ranch Falcons.

It wasn’t a walk-off winner, but the Sultans did capitalize in their final trip to the plate.

A one-out walk to Ethan Wright was immediately followed on a Caleb Harris tie-breaking triple to right field. Harris came home when Bradley Phillips intentionally slapped a ground ball up the middle for an RBI as the Falcons defender had nowhere to throw the ball except to first base for the second out.

Sultans starting pitcher Destin Allen-Fox fired four solid innings but was going to be hooked with the loss until Santana pulled even in the fourth. Phillips provided the marker with a clutch, two-out single to center, scoring Caden Corderman, who had the lone extra-base hit with a leadoff double.

The contest then turned into a battle of the bullpens. Josh Hixson first tossed a shutout inning, then Ethan Moutaw also tossed no-hit ball, but for two innings to collect the victory.

For Moutaw, four of six outs were on strikes without a walk.

Quotes

Bradley Phillips, Santana:

“Our pitchers have been doing great all year, with low-scoring games,” said Phillips. “So when small ball can help us win, we do it.”

“I’m happy I was able to contribute with 2 RBI in the game,” he added. “Knocking Corderman in with a single with two outs in the fourth to tie it up (was importaant), and yes, with Harris on third and one out in the sixth, I just needed to put the ball in play to get them in.”

Ethan Moutawe, Santana:

“Our pitching staff is tough and loves to battle through the adversity. We train constantly to get through the tough times and be able to shut it down”

“I think we could really have any guy come in to have that third spot start capability. We’ve got a lot of dawgs who would kill for that spot”

“Today, I was able to really locate the curveball and come back in with the fastball to keep them off balance. Our staff knows what we need to get the job done and we trust our defense and offense to put us into the best situation to win while we’re doing our part.”


Grossmont 4, Bonita Vista 4, tie (9 inn., darkness)

FLETCHER HILLS —When does a ballclub need a No. 3 starting pitcher when you have the hitting ability of the Grossmont Foothillers.

For the fourth in four weeks this season, another thrilling Hillers comeback saw the hosts get even in the sixth inning, then matched Bonita Vista with a game-tying run in the bottom of the ninth before the sen set in a 4-4 deadlock Friday (Mar. 11) at Gizoni Field.

One day after El Cajon Valley played its first tie game this Century, Grossmont now has its second draw over 22 seasons, continuing its role of spoiler for a finals berth to the Bill Dickens Memorial/GMC Tournament.

In the fourth, River Diaz De Leon accepted a lead walk, then came around on consecutive base hits from Jose Carranza and Cody Bigley(RBI).

In the ninth, Bonita Vista, which earlier led 2-1 ad 3-2, took its third lead on the afternoon on an RBI basehit by catcher Juan Iniguez.

However, the never-ending string of Grossmont comebacks saw a series of three walks were followed by a run-scoring fielder’s choice off the bat of Carranza (3-5).

All of the homer runs came in the second. Bonita Vista second baseman Victor Castaneda smacked a 2-run shot to right field for a 2-1 lead, but Diaz De Leon tied it with a solo shot to center.

Grossmont is 5-2-1 overall, yet riding a hockey-like 3-game non-winning streak in the tournament (0-2-1). Bonita Vista’s ledger moves to 3-4-1, yet is also relegated as a spoiler at 0-2-1 in its pool.

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