East County Sports

GMC: Only Santana survives ‘Dog Days’



By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

EL CAJON — Dog Day Afternoon, a 1975 American crime-drama motion picture that received six Academy Awards nominations, is about two brothers’ failed attempt to rob a bank, with the caper taking one, very long afternoon.

The same could be said about East County squads in the premiere Gordie Thompson Division of the annual Bill Dickens Memorial/GMC Tournament — it was an even longer afternoon than the movie.

Except for the Santana Sultans, the four remaining ballclubs out of the Grossmont Hills League all lost, some in heartbreaking fashion.

Santana 16, Madison 6
CLAIREMONT MESA — The Santana Sultans moved into a share of the lead in its pool of “The Dickens” tournament by whipping Madison off the nearby I-805 freeway, 16-6, on Monday (Mar. 14).

Meanwhile, Madison lost its share of the lead in the other pool, in a situation which reeks of a look-ahead situation. A fourth-inning choice by the Warhawks, obviously, wasn’t a welcome move according to the Sultans.

In an entertaining ballgame after three innings tied at 3-all, Madison elected to remove its starting pitcher. Speculation had the Warhawks saving the arm for a possible championship game appearance on Saturday. But if you don’t win this contest, there is no shot at the title, a lesson the Sultans quickly taught the hosts.

In Santana’s most resounding offensive display all season, they tallied eight runs in the decisive fourth to blow the ballgame wide open.

Sans its starting pitcher, Madison reliever No.1 allowed five earned runs without registering an out. Two more members of the ‘Hawks bullpen did a little better.

For the frame, Santana mustered seven hits, three walks, a hit batter, while a ground out was intentionally bunted to the right side down the first-base line for a sacrifice plated another run.

“Our team had an approach and we stuck to it,” said Shane Bailey. “We really wanted to get into their bullpen early. We continued to put pressure on the other team to throw strikes.”

Indeed, Santana felt insulted.

Among the 14 batters, the go-ahead run came on a double by Jayden Agramont.

“We all try to do a good job relaying which pitches someone is throwing, and how much it moves,” noted Tyler Begg. “We all knew that we were going to see fastballs, so we used that to our advantage, adjusted, and were ready for them.”

Destin Allen-Fox and Begg posted consecutive 2-run RBI singles, Later, Bailey belted a run-scoring double.

Begg, the right fielder, batted 3-for-4. while Allen-Fox and Bailey each added two hits. Throw in the No. 9 hitter, and the bottom four of the Santana batting order combined to swing it at a season-best 8-for-17 rate with 9 RBI.

Both ballclubs stand at 6-2 overall.

Should Santana and Granite Hills both win Thursday’s final pool-play contest, a tie-breaker could land the Sultans into the title game against, possibly, Eastlake, which handed Santana its lone tournament setback, 2-0.

Scripps Ranch 5, Granite Hills 4
SCRIPPS RANCH — Granite Hills moved into position to remain the lone unbeaten team in the Premier Division of the tournament, scoring three times in the top of the seventh,

However, Scripps Ranch answered with RBI singled from Daniel Herrera and Nate Roos to allow the Falcons to the walk-off winner.

It took an instant to move even, as Eric Banks led off with a double, then Herrera tied the score. The hits started a chain of five straight hits without an out, as pinch-hitter Noah Kindem and leadoff batter Scott Guthrie singled to load the bases, then Roos sent a hard ground through the left side of the infield.

It was the second bullpen failure for the Eagles on the day.

Scripps Ranch also scored three times in the sixth to assume a 3-1 lead. However, Granite Hills fought back with three runs in the sevnth — all unearned on consecutive errors.

Until the wild, final innings, the pitchers’ duel remained scoreless until the fifth, when Spencer Davis came home on a wild pitch.

Eagles starting pitcher Ethan McNish-Heide fired 2-hit shutout ball for three innings, but came out after three innings )perhaps being saved for the championship game). However, the bullpen was touched for all five runs (all earned),

Scripps Ranch pitcher T.J. Bibler yielded just one unearned run over six innings, but also came away with a no-decision when the Falcons’ bullpen and defense hit a few bumps.

Granite Hills (6-2 overall)caps pool play with a home game against Bonita Vista (Scripps Ranch (5-3), which avoided falling to .500, heads to Helix.

Bonita Vista 5, Steele Canyon 2
BONITA —Only once as an assistant coach at West Hills has current Bonita Vista head coach ever defeated Steele Canyon… until Monday.

Barons starting pitcher Glen Huggins allowed just one earned run and struck out six Steele Canyon batters, thumping the Cougars, 5-2.

First baseman Josh Bruce added two hits and a pair of RBI, including a triple.

“Steele Canyon is a really good team, so this is a nice win for us,” said Palet. “Any time you can beat a team with a great coach, and all that talent, we consider ourselves fortunate to be on the right side of the scoreboard.”

Steele Canyon book-ended its runs with markers in the first and seventh innings. In between, it was all Barona.

The Cougars received a two-out, RBI line single from Taylor Corella to get in the board first.

In the late going, Diego Ceniceros delivered a run-scoring double, which brought the potential game-tying run to the plate. However, Huggins registered the final out for his complete game.

Bonita Vista leveled its record to 4-4-1 overall. Steele Canyon slipped to 6-3.

Eastlake 8, Helix 1
EASTLAKE — Eastlake and Cathedral Catholic maintained a deadlock for first in its pool of the Bill Dickens Memorial/GMC Tournament.

The Titans held their position after sliding past Helix, 8-1, in Monday’s (Mar. 14) tournament action.

The Highlanders were limited to a mere four hits by Eastlake pitchers Isaiah Martinez and Zo Castruita. Martinez was charged with just a single, unearned run, throwing a 1-hitter over his five innings. Castruita yielded three hits over two frames to garner the save.

Down 6-0, the Scotties avoided the shutout bid with a sixth-inning, courtesy of a Wyatt Laub solo home run, send\ing 3-2 pitch out to left field.

The Titan’s leader on offense was Nico Libed with a pair of doubles, good for three RBI..

Eastlake (6-3 overall), the defending CIF-SDS Open Division champion, started the season with an understandably slow start after losing 10 seniors. Now, the Titans have won 5-of-6 outings and again look like contenders.

Helix is now 4-4 after dropping its third straight.

Cathedral Catholic 9, Grossmont 5
CARMEL HIGHLANDS —To open the season, the Grossmont Foothillers were an undefeated tournament champion. In tournament No. 2, the Hillers can’t buy a victory.

Cathedral Catholic extended Grossmont’s non-winning streak to four straight (0-3-1) with a 9-5 win at Manchester Field.

Dons starting pitcher McDermott and two others shook over a tough first inning for a combined 5-hitter. They struck out 12 Grossmont batters.

The Hillers opened with three quick runs, but it was downhill from there after the Dons got even at 5-all, then tallied four times against the bullpen in the sixth. The outburst was aided by four walks and a hit batter.

The slow-starting Dons allowed two walks and an error to load the bases in the first, followed by a sacrifice fly from Jose Carranza, then a 2-run single by Michael Cervantes for a 3-0 lead.

Later, first baseman Barron Zamora batted 2-for-2 with two RBI and scored twice. He started the third with a solo homer, then added a run-scoring double in the fifth.

Cathedral Catholic (4-5) received two hits and an RBI for both leadoff hitter Cody Nitowitz and Charlie Mirer. James Castagnola also had two hits, while Jack McWilliams hit a game-tying, 2-run single in the fifth.

Grossmont (5-3-1) will attempt to its slide, hosting defending CIFSDS champion Eastlake on Wednesday at Gizoni Field. The Hillers took 3-of-4 games from the Titans last season, but Eastlake took the section final for the title, 6-2.

Grossmont is 0-3-1 in its last four. They last posted four straight losses in 2019, and had a 6-game losing streak in 2017, starting during the same tournament immediately after shutting out Cathedral Catholic.


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