East County Sports

Corella’s ‘Strike’ stuns No. 1 Granite

2022 EAST COUNTY PREP BASEBALL

 

By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

RANCHO SAN DIEGO — Less than 24 hours after the Grossmont Foothillers raised their collective hands and demanded to be counted, on Wednesday (May 11), so did the Steele Canyon Cougars.

Steele Canyon cleanup hitter Taylor Corella delivered a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh inning, capping a 3-run rally for a shocking walk-off win over No. 1 rated Granite Hills, 5-4.

For six innings, the contest seemed completely disinteresting to the Cougars, the last-place team n the Grossmont Hills League.

Examples: they allowed the Eagles lead-off batter to reach base over each of the first five innings (usually by walks). Then they entered their final trip to the plate against East County’s best bullpen, including runaway saves leader Brenden Lewis.

However, after Lewis opened the seventh on a dominating, 3-pitch strikeout, the Cougars seemingly turned into Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike — at odds of more than 80-to-1 — with an amazing stretch run.

Trailing 4-2, strange things started to happen.

Owen McClees, sporting a sub.230 average, dropped a bloop single to right field. Then leadoff batter Will James, 0-for-3 on the afternoon, found a hole on the left side for a ground single.

Granite Hills was officially in trouble as Steele Canyon’s top three hitters (by batting average) were due next.

Weston Clark lined at RBI single to center field, scoring pinch-runner Gabe Diaz t make it 4-3.

It was now decision time for the Eagles when they caught a break.

For some (unreported) reason, Tommy Molina, the club leader in all three Triple Crown categories (average, home runs and RBI), did not come to the plate.

Instead, since it was Senior Day for the Cougars’ final regular season home game, Matt Marshall, a 12th-grader who has seen little action with just two hits all season, stepped into the box.

However, Granite Hills kept to the season-long strategy seen against sluggers like the Eagles’ Grant Mac Arthur and Helix’s Ben Haar, and put Marshall on base via a hit-by-a-pitch to load the bases will still just the single out.

However, Corella delivered the ballclub’s fourth single of the inning — they entered the seventh with just four basehits — by sending a hard ground ball into left field.

James easily scored the game-tying run, but with one down, Cougars coach Jesse Evans — who owns a reputation as a bit of a riverboat gambler — also waved Clark home, who beat the throw for the walk-off winner.

Otherwise, Granite Hills led from the start with two runs in the first, then another marker in the second for a 3-1 lead, staying in front as starting ptcher Ethan McNish-Heider fired 2-hit ball over his five innings, yet came away with a no-decision.

Cougars pitcher Branden Jackel was fair for three frames, allowing just two earned run in three innings, but walks quickly elevated his pitch count.

Jackel was replaced by senior Cody Landy, who pitched four full frames, allowing just one run to keep the Cougars close. The victory for Landy, normally a mop-up man, was the first of the season.

Tme ramifications of the result were comforting for both squads.

Granite Hills (20-5 overall, 9-2 GHL) remained in the top spot in the CIF computer power index, remaining above No. 2 La Costa Canyon.

For Steele Canyon (13-14, 2-10 GHL), the result was more pronounced.

A check of the CPI this morning found the Cougars at No. 12. Should that position hold, the school would not only receive a berth into the main draw (avoiding the play-in game), they would also collect a home contest against the 13=vs-20 winner.

Among Wednesday’s individual leaders, the Eagles’ Mac Arthur went 2-for-3, moving his average closer to .500 to kead the GHL. In addition, Spencer Davis posted a pair of RBI hits for the early lead

Eastern League

Patrick Henry 8, Christian 6

EL CAJON — The Christian Patriots held the home-field advantage to clinch the Eastern League championship on Wednesday (May 11), but now they must do the heavy lifting on the road.

Despte a two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning, Christian fell to Patrick Henry, 8-7, in its first chance to claim the league pennant. The decision left the ballclubs tied for first place, with the tie-breaking third game in the series set for Friday in Del Cerro.

Patrick Henry overcame an early 1-0 deficit by scoring three times in both the fifth and sixth innings to claim an 80-3 advantage, However, Christian answered with two runs in the sixth and seventh before the Green Patriots staved off the Red/Blue Patriots.

Santa Clare bound senior Ryan Ellis and sophomore Jack Giordano drove in three runs each for Patrick Henry.

Setting the table were Henry sophomores Eddy Gomez and Talin Gardini, who each scored three times. Gomez reached base three times by getting hit by a pitch to establish a school record.

Henry also too advantage of a season-low eight errors by Christian.

The bigger advantage for Patrick Henry came in the pitching, although barely.

Travis Van Dyke went five innings to gain the win, as head coach Sheldon Watkins elected to save Ellie, the staff ace (1.21 ERA), for a possible deciding game on Friday.

Christian recorded twice as many hits,12-to-6, including three by middle infielder Shane Bailey and two from first baseman Hunter Kaul.

In thr seventh, Christian’s Nathan Cena and Vaughn Major delivered RBI singles to move within a run.

Patrick Henry then elected to hit Christian home run leader Andruw McCarty with a pitch to load the bases, pusing the potential game-winner runner to second base. However, Henry relief pitcher Dylan Dyersen escaped the jam on a tapper back to the pitcher, gaining the save.

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