East County Sports

Hillers finger-point… at the scoreboard!



By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

KEARNY MESA — For the first time all season, there was finger-pointing among the Grossmont Foothillers. Only it was the good kind after ending an unkind streak.

“We’ve gone through it together without pointing fingers,” said Grossmont skipper Jordan Abruzzo. “Our kids are accountable and act the right way.”

That’s because the Hillers — here’s the last time we state it, coach! — snapped a hideous 7-game non-winning streak by downing the No. 1 ballclub in the CIF-San Diego Section.

A trio of Hillers pitchers — Jake Holman, Kyler Sasena-Ruth and Mason Dirkes — combined on a 3-hitter over nine innings, as Grossmont nipped top-ranked and previously unbeaten St. Augustine, 2-1, at Hickman Field on Wednesday (Mar. 30).

“We just stuck together and finished today,” said Sasena-Ruth. “We have been coming up short a lot of these losses, nut we shut the door.”

“It was a huge win for the team and we were all so stoked.”

Holman and Sassena-Ruth each pitched four solid innings, with “Babe” not allowing a hit in his stint to collect the victory, striking out nine Saints batters.

Dirkes worked around a ninth-inning walk to garner the save.

The ballclubs traded early runs, then the zeroes came often, as St. Augustine pitcher Manny Butler fired five frames of 1-hit ball.

Finally in the ninth, Grossmont saw the first two batters reach base.

No. 7 hitter Michael Cervantes led with a line single to left field, then Cody Bigley lined a double, also to left.

Two strikeouts later with no movement from the base-runners, Justin Tucker fouled off two pitches before taking a 2-2 offering to left for the go-ahead basehit.

Following a 5-0 start, the Hillers are back to level ground at 6-6-1 overall, snapping St. Augustine’s season-long 11-game unbeaten streak to fall to 9-1-2.

“Losing streaks are tough and it was really a rough stretch for us,” said Tucker. “I think we saw this game as a perfect opportunity to get back to playing the baseball we played the first five games of the season.”

“We stuck together and won as a team with great pitching. Everything was great.”

Tucker was one of the few batters for either team to solve the opponent’s pitching, batting 3-for-5.

“On my first ‘a.b.,’ I saw first pitch fastball and just unleashed on it.. Next hit, got a little bloop hit.”

“Last ‘a.b.; with two runners and two outs, I come up, get down 0-2 early. His off-speed change up and curveball were really working, so once i went into my approach, i got my foot down and expected movement. I f Fought back 2-2 and then got a change up inside, and lined it to left field.”

Dirkes walked the first batter in the ninth, but then went 1-2-3 for the save on a sacxrifice bunt, a pop fly, then a scary hard liner to cdenter fielder Ryan Rodieck.

“I’m just happy for our kids. We deserved to win today,” added Abruzzo. “It really doesn’t matter to us. St. Augustine is just another high school team to our kids. We expect to play at a high level and we finally did that.”

The Saints loss leaves no remaining unbeaten ballclub in Division 1-3.

St. Augustine opened the scoring i nthe second with an unearned run, as Frankie Giacalone singled, left fielder Justin Heffler doubled, then an infield error brought in the run.

Grossmont immediately answered run the third, also on an unearned run.

Noah Barnes accepted a one-out walk, Barron Zamora doubled, then Barnes came home on a passed ball.


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