East County Sports

D-2: Momentum spurs Granite into finals



By Adam Paul

SANTEE (5-26-22) In a wild and dramatic contest the Granite Hills Eagles knock off the Valhalla Norsemen by a score of 5-4 in SDSCIF D-II Challenger’s Bracket Semifinal action on Tuesday afternoon out at the Santee Sportsplex.

Granite Hills who had previously beaten Valhalla in first-round action by a score of 7-6 knew they would have a battle on their hands and indeed they did.

Early on the fifth-seeded Norsemen would strike first as they would take a 1-0 lead thanks to a sacrifice fly by Nayeli Chapa (RBI) that was deep enough for Cadyn Ruffer (2-4, 2 R) to tag up from third and score.

Granite Hills would threaten in the bottom of the second inning as Makenna Hines (2-4, 2 RBI, 2B) would rope a one-out double which was followed by Taylor Rose lacing a single which advanced Hines to third base. However, Naomi Villava would retire the next two batters to get out of the jam.

Moving to the bottom of the fourth inning and still trailing by a run the Eagles would start off with a lead single by Audrey Smale (1-4, R, RBI), SB) who would smartly advance to third base when Chloe Knepp (1-3) would lay down a sacrifice bunt due to smart base running. A couple of batters later with two outs, she would come into score when Rose singled to center field to tie the game at 1-1.

Now with the game tied after retiring the Norsemen in order in the top of the fifth, the Eagles would string back-to-back hits courtesy of Kayla Fox (2-3, R, 2B) and Sofia Mujica (1-3), she would be lifted for a courtesy runner in Kaleigh Baugher (RUN). Both runners would advance on a sacrifice by Kailey Sandoval (RUN).

With runners on second and third and only one out Smale would ground into a fielders’ choice which brought home Fox and on the same play Valhalla would commit an error that allowed Baugher to plate which gave the Eagles a 3-1 lead.

Valhalla though would tie the game up at 3-3 in the top of the sixth inning when Villava drove in both Ruffer and Marissa Lupo ((1-2, R) and they would retake the lead when Liliana Moscoso (RUN) scored on an error by the Eagles.

Trailing 4-3 and down to their final at-bats, the Eagles knew they had to get something going or it was going home time.

Leadoff hitter Fox would kick start the momentum with a double to left field, Mujica would be intentionally walked. The next batter Sandoval would hit into a fielders’ choice but Fox would be thrown out at third base and Smale would line out to left field.

Now with two outs and runners on first and second the next batter Knepp would keep the inning alive as she singled to load the bases to bring up Hines.

Hines would work the count in her favor to 3-1 and on the very next pitch would rip a single to left field that scored the courtesy runner and Sandoval who was at second base would be waved around and would score the game-winning run.

Villava would take the loss for the Norsemen as she allowed five runs of which four were earned on nine hits over six and two-thirds of an inning while walking one and striking out three.

For the Eagles, Baugher who came in and finished the game would pick up the victory as she went one and two-thirds innings, allowing no runs on one hit while striking out one. Knepp who got the starting nod went five and one-third inning in which she allowed four runs of which three were earned on five hits while walking one and striking out two in the no-decision.

With the loss, the Valhalla Norsemen are officially eliminated and finish their season with a record of 21-9.

Granite Hills on the other hand improves to 18-12-1 and moves on to take on the Helix Highlanders who dropped an 11-2 decision to Poway in a winners bracket contest.


Semifinals, Game Two

Granite Hills 4, Helix 2
SANTEE Early runs and a combined strong pitching effort would lead the Granite Hills Eagles to a victory over the Helix Highlanders in a challenger’s bracket Semi-Final contest out at the Santee Sportsplex on Thursday afternoon.

The fourth-seeded Eagles who lost to the top-seeded Helix Highlanders 2-0 in the second round had all the momentum coming into the contest and would strike early as they would take a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

A one-out double by Kailey Sandoval (3-4, R, 2B) would be followed by another double by Audrey Smale (1-4, R, RBI, 2B) that would bring home Sandoval, the next batter Chloe Knepp (1-4, RBI) with Smale on second base would single to left field to score Smale from second base.

Helix though would threaten in the bottom of the inning as leadoff hitter Angel Riggins (1-3) reached on an error, she would be advanced to second on a sacrifice by Lauren Farace (2-2, R, RBI, HR) and would advance to third on a ground ball out. But that would be the farthest she would get as Taylor Rose would get Sophia Ramuno to fly out to end the inning.

Still leading 2-0 in the top of the third the Eagles would add another run when Sofia Mujica (1-2, R, RBI, HR) blasted a solo shot over the center-field fence for her 14th home run of the season and extend the Eagles lead to 3-0.

Leading 3-0 in the top of the fourth inning the Eagles looked for more as Kamryn Flath (1-3) singled with one out, a couple of batters later Kayla Fox (1-3) would single which was followed by an intentional walk to Mujica that loaded the bases but the threat would be squashed when Ramuno got the next batter to pop out for the third out.

Helix would finally break through and get on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning thanks to a pair of runs to pull within 3-2.

The first run of the inning would come courtesy of a leadoff solo home run by Lauren Farace over the right-field fence for her third of the season and after a single by Amber Young (1-3) the following batter Ramuno would single to right field that would allow courtesy runner Elaine Mohammad (RUN) to come into score but that would be the closest they would get as Granite would get out of the inning.

Later in the bottom of the sixth, the Highlanders would again threaten thanks to back-to-back singles by Riggins and Farace. Unfortunately, they would be stranded as Baugher stood her ground and retired the next three batters in order to end the inning.

Only leading by a slim one-run lead the Eagles knew they needed to push across an insurance run of some kind and they would succeed.

Mujica who led off was intentionally walked would be followed by a base hit by Sandoval and later in the inning with two outs Makenna Hines (1-3, RBI) would thru in the clutch as she laced a base hit that would bring home a run to extend the lead 4-2.

The Highlanders down to their final at-bats, unfortunately, wouldn’t get anything going as Baugher who is only a freshman came up huge as she would retire all three batters in order including a pair of strikeouts that included striking out the last batter to end the game.

Ramuno on the day for the Highlanders threw seven innings in which she allowed four runs on nine hits while walking three and striking out nine in the loss.

Taylor Rose who got the starting nod for the Eagles garnered the win. On the day she allowed two runs on three hits over three and one-third inning in which she struck out one, Baugher came in and finished the game as she threw three and two-thirds scoreless innings in which she struck out four on the day.

Helix with the loss ends the season with a record of 22-9.

Granite Hills with the win improves to 18-12-1 and advances to the CIFSDS D-2 Championship game on Saturday against the second seed Poway Titans to be played at UCSD which will start at 4 PM.

Granite Hills will be in the CIF Finals for only the third time in school history. They won the Division I title in 2008 against La Costa Canyon and last made the Division II title game back in 2015 where they lost to La Costa Canyon 2-0. Both times were under current assistant coach Erin Coyne who was the head coach of both squads.