East County Sports

Patriots navigate past Santa Fe to a ‘T’

Christian right-hander Vaughn Major fires wins with a complete-game effort



By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

EL CAJON — While cheers could be heard across campus after the Christian High softball team raced to an 8-0 lead in its postseason opener, the baseball diamond on the south side was mum quiet when Santa Fe Christian jumped to a 3-0 advantage after the first half-inning.

Fortunately for the Patriots, the cheering would commence soon enough.

In a CIF-San Diego Section Division II playoff opener, the host Pats rebounded with seven unanswered runs to sink the visiting Eagles, 7-4. The decisive runs came home on  a “T-ball Grand Slam” in a contest which would received few style  votes are artistic mastery.

“Sometimes you need to win ugly to advance in the postseason play,” said Christian head coach Mike Mitchell, who described the key play as a “T-ball Grand Slam.”

Both starting pitchers and.or their respective defenses posted one horrible inning each, but the one by Santa Fe Christian was far the biggest blunder when four runs scored on a single play  on a batted ball that travelled less than 60 feet.

Patriots pitcher Vaughn Major overcame his poor start by firing 4-hit ball over the final six innings, striking out 10 Eagles batters en route to his complete-game victory.

Major, a junior, ran his record to 5-4 with his third victory over his last four starts.

“It was a bit of bad luck and some defensive misplays in those first few innings for us,” noted Mitchell.

Santa Fe Christian needed just three batters to score, capped by a two-run double by Jack Haferkamp. The margin eventually reached four runs before Christian found its stride with a run in the third, then a six-run explosion in the fifth.

“We hit three hit line drives right at some guys with runners in scoring position in those first few innings that could have put us on the board.”

The fifth started with a leadoff double by Major found him on third base with two down. However, junior Nathan Cena delivered a line, RBI single to center, the lone blemish by SFC pitcher Jackson Bush
through four frames.

Christian shortstop Shane Bailey knocks down the ball on the short-hop. He would make the play with a strong throw to first base for the out in the Patriots’ 7-4 CIF first-round win over Santa Fe Christian on Tuesday.

However, Bush would not get out of the fifth.

“Their pitcher was tough and kept us off balance early, but lost some command and we were able to capitalize later in the game,” added the Patriots skipper.

Consecutive lead singles by Major and Andruw McCurty were followed by a pair of outs for Bush to to nearly escape the jam. Cena then walked to load the bases.

From that point on, Bush ran out of gas on two fronts.

The next pair of Patriots — Caden Leonard and Chris Mellos — were hit by pitches to force home runs to trim the deficit to 4-3.

Then Bush’s tiring arm would hurt his fielding, too.

When fielding a Dominic Zepeda come-backer to the mound, Bush’s throw to first base instead raced down the right-field line.

With the right fielder already approaching the infield, by the time the ball was recovered, two ensuing throws to the plate sailed over the catcher.

Christian’s Dominic Zepeda (right) scores, greeted at home plate by Nolan Brown in downing Santa Fe Christian.

In total, all four runners — the three on base, plus the batter — would register unearned runs for the back-breaking “slam.”

Christian (21-7 overall) advances to the main draw, starting the double-elimination portion of the playoffs with a road trip to Linda Vista to meet Francis Parker.

Since the top-seeded Lancers have an excellent, lighted field, local CIF officials gave the school permission to start the ballgame in prime time at 7:30 p.m.

Patrick Henry 15, Classical 3
DEL CERRO — A 14-hit attack saw Patrick Henry score in all six of the ballclub’s trips to the plate, taking down the Caimans of Classical Academy of Escondido, 15-3, in CIF San Diego Section Division II play-in action.

No game information was reported.

Patrick Henry, seeded No. 6, advances to meet No. 3 Del Norte.


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