East County Sports

Matadors nip Braves; Realignment plan?


Compiled by Nick ‘Pellegrino
ECS Senior writer

Mount Miguel 4, El Cajon Valley 2

EL CAJON – In a match-up of CIFSDS Division 5 programs situated in the Grossmont Valley League, which consists of ballclubs in higher divisions, Mount Miguel and El Cajon Valley has targeted this two-game series for more than a month heading injto the playoffs.

Unless you atre an intense follower of local baseball, ECVHS might own “that” long losing streak in league play– the mark started in 2015, the first seasoy head coach Clifton Thomasskippering t took over operations of the Braves — yet the bllcub owns a 9-3 non-league record, meaning the school could be placed in the middle of the division seeds, even gaining a potential home game.

However, even after Tuesday’s (May 7) 4-2 Mount Miguel victory over ECVHS, snapping the teams’ deadlock for the GVL basement, the Matadors are fully aware they might meet the Braves beyoibd Thursday’s regukar-season finale.

“We’ew Division 5, too, so we expect to play them again,” said center fielder Jeremiah Castillo. “We’ll definitely be ready.”

Castillo is oneof the leads which, like ECVHS, helped his side to a winning record in non-league action. Thus, there is also optimism for the Matadors to do well andextend their season.

In Tuesday’s ballgame, Castiilo bombed his second home run of the season in the third inning, giving Mount Miguel a 2-0 lead. The adventage swelled to 4-0 before a late Braves rally fell short.

Matt Barton pitched six solif innings, striking out six Braves batters ad yielding three hits. Then relievers Tyler Kelly overcame a 7th-inning walk which brought the potential game-tying runto the plate, vut he escaped on a pair of infield tappers.

“Matt and I didn’t play baseball last season,” noted Castiilo. “We were both onthe track team, but when a bunch of the coaches left (they went to bnearby Monte Vista), we decided to come out.”

Opponents are well aware of Castillo and Bartton.

Castillo pwns 99 plate appearance, yet only has 77 at-bats — more than 20 percent of the tme he’s been “unintentionally” walked.

Meanwhile, Barton posted a 3-0 record prior top GVL play, And with the balance of ther schedule exclusively against Division 5 competiton, he could be a factor for a deep postseason run.

Besides Castillo, thee other Matadors seniors — Xavier Reyes, Junior Ettleman and Julian Sanchez — drove in runs.

The Braves battked back on runs by Alejandro Vargas Tiznado and Chris Cosio.

The near miracle rally on Senior Day saw Burton fire a wicked curvball for a strikeout, but then walked Vargas Tizando to bring the game-tying run to the plate.

However, Burton fielded a tapper back to the mound for the second out, then another tapper to the right side gave Mount Miguel the victory.

The streak / Realignment?

El Cajon Valley already owns the state record for most consecutive losses, in league games only. They broke the mark by Granite Hill of Sacramento, thyen the Braves broke their own state record earlier this century.

Depending on the number of ballgames played in 2015, they won’t eclipse their own mark until either May 2015 or /March/april 2016.

Or maybe not.

At one time, the Grossmont Conference negotiated a deal with thte San Diego City Conference to allow El Cajon Valley baseball (and maybe softball, too) to play in one of the weaker leagues, probably the Central League.

However, Braves officials, at the last minute, declined the relocation, in a move to save face abd avoid embarrassment.

There now seems to be a newer proposal with far more encompassing conditions to include many schools — which could benefit schools from Division 5 up to Division 2.

Noting that CIF San Diego Section rules dictate that a league must consist of at least four schools, the Central League — consisting of Crawford, Hoover, Kearmy and SD-High Tech — to play in a hybrid league featuring ECVHS, Mount Miguel, Monte Vista, and a fourth school to be determined.

These eight schools will be divided into a pair of independent leagues, but with a crossover schedule. Thus, schools in one division would play each other twice (like a normal schedule), but also play one game against each of the teams in the other league one tie for a 10-game skate of league contests.

There could even be an “11th game” where the two league champs for a socalled title, tp be played the Friday before playff pairings are announced.

Several coaches have been asked about their interest in such a proposal.

Answers ranged from:

— “Definitely — let’s do it!”
–“This will help the larger schools by needing to play us D-5 schools, which pulls down their computer index rating/”
— “Everyone would get a chance to win.”

— “When can we start@”

Scheduling dynamics would be a snap.

In Week 1, there would be a division game.

Weeks 2 and 3 would be either a completion of the first round or two games against the other league. Team receive one home game and one road game,

Weeks 4: A remaining games with the other league (one home, one road, but opposite days of the week for balance and fairness).

Week 5: Two games in the second round of league play.

Week 6: The final game to complete league play, then a “position round” (a league term in bowling) or just a single championship game on Friday. Which ever team played on te road, would be the home side.The proposal sounds interesting, but how does it effect th rest of the Grossmont Conference?

One projection shows that two CIF berths would still be available, but only eight schools would complete for such berths, which would make it slightly easier to become a league champion.

Split the eight schools into two divisions: either Norse/South (El Capitan,Santana, West Hills and grossmont; vs. Helix, Steele Canyon, Valhalla, Granite Hills), or East/West (EL Capitan, Santana, Granbite Hills, Valhalla, vs. West Hills, Grossmont, Helix and Steele Canyon).

One again, six in-division games and four crossover contests for a 10-game slate Thrn play the “championship gane” at Grossmont College — what kibd of crwod would that draw?

Both champions would still be in the CIF playoffs as leage champions, with a solid chance (no guantees) of gaining a home game.

Plus, no a third team — ECVHS, Momnte Vista or Mount Miguel– could gain such anoppolrtniktuy, which is similar to what happens in the Metro Conference(13 schools over 3 league) or the North COunty Conference (they just added thr Avocado North Leagie).

As for the eight schools in the new(working title) Grossmont West League, Lincoln could return to the Central League, moving SD-High Tech to the East County. Other possibilitisd coudl be Mountain Empire — the current top-ranked Division 5 schools according to MaxPreps — Liberty Charter of Alpine, or Foothills Christian.

Conference administrators — especially from the Grossmont Union High School District — know there is a problem, but attempts for a solution have been futile in the oast.

Perhaps this proposal, even if utilized as a one-0season experiment, would be worth ionvestigating.