East County Sports

Holiday hijinks helps Highlanders’ history



By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

LA MESA — The day was St. Patrick’s Day in 2010, when senior right-hander Dylan Nickerson took the mound for the Helix Highlanders in his second start of the young season.

During a time when Nickerson would be selected to the All-East County second team, Nickerson retired visiting Ramona in order in the first inning, then answered in the home-halg of the frame with a leadoff single to eventually score the game’s opening run.

Eventually, with Helix leading 2-0, the Bulldogs pushed across a run in the seventh — one of only two baserunners for Ramona all afternoon — but Nickerson registered the final out to polish off a brilliant 2-hitter. He faced just 23 batters — two above the minimum — in a dominating complete-game performance.

The feat still ranks among the finest quality pitching outings by a Helix pitcher in the 21st Century.

Nickerson finished with a stellar 7-1 record, ranking third behind Grossmont’s Joe Musgrove, the current San Diego Padres pitcher, who went 11-1 with five saves for the Hillers in 2010.

Nickerson also rated among the East County leaders with five home runs.

Kudos to Dylan, but why is it now important?

Well, entering the week, the victory was the one and only Highlanders ballgame — as ridiculous as it might sound — that the ballclub actually won on St. Patrick’s Day since 2000.

It was also the last time the Scotties played on the holiday, so when Wednesday’s scheduled contest with Scripps Ranch was rescheduled to “SPD,” everyone on the ballclub got excited.

After all, Helix couldn’t actually lose on St. Patrick;s Day, right?

An overview of the school’s annual results prove otherwise.

For several obvious factors when you glance over the game logs, Helix rarely plays on the holiday. And that’s a good thing, too, owning n awful 1-3 record.

Helix almost always plays on Mar. 18, but Mar. 17 always seems to allude the Scotties, whether it was a Sunday or the short dead period between tournaments and league play.

The ’22 edition

The 2022 contest wasn’t looking any better either, with the Scotties trailing the Falcons, 2-1, entering their final turn at the plate.

However, the Scripps Ranch bullpen failed miserably, all while not allowing a basehit. Still, following a pop out, the next five Scotties reached base.

Pinch-hitter Lincoln McAvene reached on an error, Anthony Matthiesen was struck by a 2-2 pitch (it had been 0-2), then Cameron Tarling was also plunked to load the bases.

A quick Falcons pitching change brought a similar lack of relief with the Scotties’ power batters coming next.

James Whitman fouled off a 3-2 pitch, then took a walk for the game-tying RBI. Ben Haar would be the final batter, either getting a hit ro win it, or force the game into extra innings on an out.

Instead, Haar did neither, The senior also walked on four consecutive misses providing for the easiest walk-off, game-winning RBI in anyone’s career.

Talk about the luck o’ the Irish, or in this case, the Scottish.

Haar also had a no-decision as starting pitcher, allowing two runs over 5.2 innings. Caleb Thomas went the next inning, surviving three hits.

However, the victory went to Wyatt Laub, who helped Helix escape  a seventh-inning Falcons rally by retiring the only batter he faced.

Scripps Ranch starter Tyler Bremner fired five frames of shutout ball, allowing just three hits and striking out nine Highlanders batter, but was also lefdt with a no-decision.

Helix snapped a 3-game losing streak, finishing tied for third in its pool in the Gordie Thompson flight (Division I) of the Bill Dickens Memprial/GMC Tournament. Both ballclubs are now 5-4 overall.


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