East County Sports

Molina homers twice in first GHL win

2022 EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL

 

By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

RANCHO SAN DIEGO — It took three contests, but the Steele Canyon Cougars may now officially call themselves members of the Grossmont Hills League in baseball.

Junior outfielder Tommy Molina blasted a pair of 2-run homers Friday (Apr. 1), as the Cougars stopped defending GHL champion Grossmont, 6-4, for the program’s first league triumph following its off-season promotion from the Grossmont Valley League.

“It feels great to get our first league win,” said Molina. “It was bound to happen. We just needed a game to go our way and that’s what happened today.”

“This year, I feel like the competition has leveled out because we could beat every team we played so far.”

For Molina, he now has four homers on the season, placing him second among GHL sluggers behind Grant MacArthur (7) of Granite Hills.

Molina capped a 4-run rally in the third inning with a 3-run shot to center field. The liner came immediately after No. 9 batter Isaias Plascencia was hit by a pitch and center fielder Will James (2-for-3, 2 runs) reached on an error, grabbing a 4-3 lead, Another error in the inning made it 5-3.

Then in the fifth, after Grossmont moved to within a run, Molina took the ball to center field to re-gain a two-run margin.

“As soon as I hit it, I knew it was going to carry. It just felt great off the bat,” Molina said on his first home run. “The pitcher made a mistake and gave me a fastball up and middle-in and I just turned on it.”

“The second home run was a pitch low and I just turned on,” the Cougars catcher added.

Each time, Molina was rewarded with something extra upon en-entering the Steele Canyon dugout.

“The red sombrero is similar to the Padres’ swag chain,” he noted. “We use it after every home run.”

Molina also credits the Cougars’ coaching staff for re-tooling his swing.

Meanwhile, Branden Jackel struck out six Foothillers batters over 5.2 innings to garner the victory.

Cannon Restine then registered the final four outs without yielding a hit to gain the save.

” It felt really good to get a good team win,” noted Jackel. “It’s easy to keep my composure when I have great teammates who back me up. We also have great leaders on this team, so I’m confident we are going to make a run this year.”

The Foothillers (6-7-1 overall, 0-3 GHL) saw right fielder River Diaz De Leon drive in two runs in the first with a double. Otherwise, Cougar arms limited the visitors to just five base hits.

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