East County Sports

New-look Alto keeps Santana in first

2022 EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL

 

By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

LA MESA — What is Santana High pitcher Koda Alto: apples or oranges?

Depending on which side of the popular English idiom you fall on, Alto is one of East County’s top pitchers this season. However, is he a starter or a closer?

A career starter, Also made his second-ever relief appearance a successful one for his second save,

On Thursday (Mar. 31), Alto pitched three shutout innings, facing just 10 batters to end a Helix comeback attempt and Santana maintained its share of first-place in the Grossmont Hills League by dropping the Highlanders, 7-2.

All of the game’s early runs came on homers in the third inning, with the Sultans holding a 3-2 lead. But when Helix opened the fourth with a lead single, Alto was called in to protect the lead.

Alto registered two straight outs, then came the deciding play of the day.

Alto saw Helix’s Ben Haar pull a drive to right field for a line-drive double, as third-base coach Cole Holland waved Anthony Matthiesen home with the potential game-tying run.

However, Sultans right fielder Tyler Begg fired a strike to catcher Landon Bailey for the inning-ending out.

The rest of the contest belonged to Santana thanks to Also, who proceeded to retire the next six Helix batters in succession, completing the save for starter Caleb Harris.

Harris allowed two runs over his four-plus frames on the mound, but the timing of those runs was perfect. They came immediately after Santana took a 3-0 lead, so Harris and the Sultans maintained the lead throughout.

Harris struck out seven Helix batters against two walks.

The Helix runs came on consecutive solo home runs by Cameron Tarling and James Whitman to open the third.

For Whitman, it was his third homer of the season, claiming a share of the ballclub leadership with Wyatt Laub and Haar.

Santana’s original lead also came on the long ball.

Bailey lined a 3-2 pitch out to center to leadoff the third. Then following a two-out walk to Caden Corderman, Ethan Wright also went deep to center for a 3-0 advantage.

The Sultans put the victory to bed with a run in the sixth, then three more in the seventh.

Wright (2-for-3, 2 RBI) stroked a lead double, then came home on a Jason Gonzalez base hit.

An inning later, Corderman blasted a 3-run homer for the team’s third consecutive hit. Also coming home were Jayden Agramont and Elijah Reber, both reaching on one-out singles.

The Sultans (11-2 overall) and Granite Hills (10-2) are off to 3-0 starts in the Grossmont Hills League. Helix, in its GHL opener after a first-round bye, suddenly standings 2.5 games behind the leaders.

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