East County Sports

Hillers-Helix battle Royale decided late



By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

LA MESA — Name East County’s hottest ballclub entering next week’s opening round of the CIF San Diego Section championships.

It might be the Grossmont Foothillers, which closed the season with a 3-game winning streak, scoring twice in the seventh inning to nip Helix, 4-2. The win allowed the Hillers to avoid a season sweep by the Highlanders.

In a 2-2 deadlock, a Helix error allowed Grossmont to load the bases, then leadoff batter River Diaz De Leon was plunked by a 1-0 pitch to force home the go-ahead run. Moments later, Justin Tucker lifted a sacrifice fly for a 2-run cushion.

It wasn’t pretty, but considering Grossmont was once on a massive 2-17-1 slide following a 5-0 start and a tournament championship to open the season, it brings to mind the old television game show “To Tell The Truth,” which would ask, “Would the real Foothillers please stand up.”

“My plan with the bases loaded was to either send a shot in the gaps or hit the ball far,” noted Diaz De Leon. “I think that the pitcher missed on a changeup inside to unintentionally give me a base.”

“Our formula to winning these next games is to most importantly keep the energy high. Also, we need to execute the little things and compete on the bump. Our offense is very strong. I definitely think our hitting will win us most games. As long as everyone stays focus every pitch of the game, we will win.’

Skyler Sasena-Ruth pitched the final 2,2 innings, including a 1-2-3 seventh, to garner the victory in relief without allowing a basehit. He struck out two.

The surprising pitchers’ duel between Grossmont’s Mason Dirkes and Isaac Cota of Helix saw both leave with no-decision when the Scotties overcame a 2-0, first-inning deficit to pull level in the fourth.

The Hillers’ quick start saw one-out hits by Tucker (single) and Barron Zamora (double), followed by yet another intentional out by Noah Barnes, who hit a roller to allow Tucker to skip home.

Moments later, a grounder by Ryan Rodieck found a hole for the second run.

Helix countered in the fourth in swifter fashion.

With one down, Wyatt Laub lined a double into left field, scoring on a deeper drive to left by Trevor Young, which cleared the barrier for a two-run homer. The blast was Young’s second of the season, both against the Hillers in GHL action.

Helix (16-10 overall, 8-4 GHL) finishes in second place. They entered this morning rated at No. 9 in the CIF Computer Power Index, which if it holds will give them the top seed in Division I. However, a loss by any of a number of City Conference clubs — notably Madison or St. Augustine — could return the Scotties to the Open Division.

Grossmont (10-16-1 overall, 4-8 GHL) is listed at No. 15, which is seventh in Division I. If the position holds, the Hillers will gain a first-round home game, with probable opponents being Bonita Vista and Scripps Ranch.

Granite Hills 11, Santana 0

LAKESIDE — Nico Tomasello wasn’t on the preseason list of top pitching prospects to open the year, but as the regular season quickly comes to a conclusion this week, look where the junior now stands.

Tomasello ran his season ledger to a perfect 7-0, joining Tanner Vielguth to toss a 5-hit shutout over Santana, 11-0., Thursday (May 12). The triumph clinched an outright Grossmont Hills League championship for the Eagles and head coach James Davis.

Tomasello struck out five Sultans batters without a walk over his six innings following a slow start before making his “Rich Strike.

“Nico has been very much so dealing on the mound, it is an honor to back him up and keep the shutout, SAID Vielguth, who fanned two and allowed one hit in the seventh. He also led the offense by driving in three runs.

“There’s nothing better than having great command in a game like that,” said Tomaselllo.”I had a great defense behind me which had a big factor in us winning.”

“I located my fastball well today and I controlled my slider in tight situations.”

Santana’s first two batters collected base hits to start the contest, but Tomasello escaped.

Afterward, the 6-foot-4 right-hander was fully in control, retiring the next eight batters and 13-of-14, with the one runner quickly eliminated on a 5-4-3, ’round-the-horn double-play grounder to third baseman Grant Mac Arthur, to second baseman Tommy Entriken to first baseman Spencer Davis.

“We know that Santana  tried to do the little things which is why we stayed focused throughout the game to make sure nothing happened,” the Eagles pitcher added.”Our offense today was outstanding which took a lot of weight off my shoulders in order to keep them at 0 runs once finished.”

“We realize what we needed to do and exceeded every limit. It was a great all around team win that put us at the Number 1 seed.”
While the Sultans failed to score in the first, Granite Hills did — five times — to vault to the victory.

The Eagles’ first three batters reach on a single and a pair of walks, then Davis was plucked by a pitch for what turned out to be the game-winning RBI.

An error made it 3-0, then a ensuing bases-loaded walks by the bullpen to Hudson Beamon and Brenden Lewis made it five runs without driving in a run with a basehit.

“Today was Senior Day and I have built a connection with every single one of my teammates, so I knew my focus had to be flipped real quick and just play the game how I know how to play,” said Lewis. “My team played excellent behind the pitching performance and I feel that we have a huge momentum going into the playoffs”

“It was just a type of game where we all weren’t at our best, but it reminded us that we would rather get that game out of the way than play like that during the playoffs.”

The late-season collapse of Santana’s pitching staff — they were once in first place yet finished third in the GHL — now gives the Sultans a 1-5 record in their last six outings.

For Granite Hills (21-5 overall, 10-2 GHL) saw Cody Macias, Beamon and Lewis finish with two RBI each.

Santana (17-9, 6-6 GHL) has now dropped to No. 5 in the CIFSDS Computer Power Index. If the ratings hold, they will now open the Open Division playoffs on the road as Torrey Pines leaps over the Sultans into fourth place.

East County Home Run Leaders
(Final Regular Season)
HRs  Name, School
Grant Mac Arthur, Granite Hills
River Diaz De Leon, Grossmont
Ben Haar, Helix
Tommy Molina, Steele Canyon
Demarae Woods, Helix

East County Pitching Wins Leaders
(Final Regular Season)
HRs  Name, School
Wyatt Laub, Helix
Nico Tomasello, Granite Hills
Koda Alto, Santana
Chandler Henry, Granite Hills
Caleb Harris, Santana
Branden Jackel, Steele Canyon
Skyler Sasena-Ruth, Grossmont
Tanner Vielguth, Granite Hills



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