East County Sports

Hillers announce their presence



ECS staff report

FLETCHER HILLS — As the Grossmont Hills League champion in 2021, Grossmont High, understandably, dominated the selections to the all-East County team.

This season, there is only one main candidate who cane through once again.

Foothillers left fielder Noah Barnes nailed a 3-run homer in the third inning, the difference to finally place a mark in the GHL win column after stopping Steele Canyon, 6-4, on Tuesday (Apr. 19) at Gizoni Field.

“Well, we finally won one” said Hillers head coach Jordan Abruzzo.

It’s been a difficult season for the defending CIF Open Division runner-ups, who still returned a ton of talent. But all of the close games Grossmont won in 2021 simple hasn’t materialized following a tournament championship and a 5-0 start to this season.

It hasn’t been due to a lack of effort.

“We are battling and we beat a really good pitcher today,” added Abruzzo. “Hopefully, we can get some momentum going from this.”

Last season, Barnes was surrounded by a variety of strong batters to protect him near the top of the batting order. Although the club isn’t batting as well at ’21, Barnes’ average is still close to .400 — but now he’s showing power, too.

The home run to right field by Barnes in the third inning not only opened the scoring also scoring, the two-out shot also scored Cody Bigley and Joaquin Baez, who both walked.

Later in the inning, Joaquin Carranza line an RBI single to center to build a 4-0 cushion.

Meanwhile, leadoff batter second baseman Justin Tucker drove in two runs, as Grossmont took advantage of each of its six total hits.

After Steele Canyon halved the margin in the fourth, Tucker immediately answered with a 2-run single with the bases loaded.

The Hillers’ first four batters reached based as Cole Rodieck was hit by a pitch, , Bigley doubled on a bloper to right, then Baez walked.

The inning could’ve been worse, but a hard liner by Barnes landed directly into the glove of the center fielder.

Except for the third inning, Grossmont pitcher Skyler Sasena-Ruth had a solid outing to collect the victory.

Steele Canyon tallied once in the seventh, but Mason Dirkes entered to register the final three outs for the save.

The late Cougars rally started on a lead homer by catcher Tommy Molina in the fifth. It was his fifth of the season to rank second in East County.

Then it became nervous time for Grossmont in the seventh when Taylor Corella walked, moving to third on a double by Molina.

Ray Marrero followed by intentionally grounding the ball to the right sides for a run.

However, Dirkes closed out the Cougars on a strikeout and an infield popup to Tucker at second base.

Grossmont (7-1-1 overall, 1-3 GHL) escapes last place with the victory.

Steele Canyon (12-8, 1-4 GHL) saw Molina finish batting 2-for-2 — both for extra bases — and was twice hit by a pitch.

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