East County Sports

Cougars, Patriots Force CIF play-backs



By Adam Paul


EL CAJON – Despite being outhit 6-3 the two early runs scored would be the only ones needed as Cougars ace Marina Gonzalez made them stick to help No. 4 Steele Canyon hold off No. 1 Granite Hills 2-1 to stave off elimination on Tuesday afternoon.

Steele Canyon in the top of the first inning behind a lead walk by Kamea Sunarine and a double by Lauren Becker to give them runners at second and third would score on a fielder’s choice by Hailey Trujillo to make it 1-0.

Bailey Evans would extend the lead for the Cougars in the top of the second inning when with one out she blasted a deep ball over the center field fence for a solo home run of which was her fourth of the season and a 2-0 lead.

Trailing 2-0 in the top of the third inning Granite Hills would threaten thanks to a leadoff single by Mia Downes followed by a single by Peyton Wells. Both runners would be stranded as Gonzalez would retire the next three batters in a row to end the threat and inning.

The Eagles would finally take advantage of what they were given in the bottom of the fourth inning as they would push across a run to pull within 2-1.

Granite would with two outs receive a base hit by Wells, and consecutive walks to both Mckenna Hines and Ariana Heringer to load the bases. The next batter Kaleigh Baugher would single in Wells.

The only other major threat by the Eagles came in the bottom of the fifth inning on a one-out single by Audrey Smale and a couple of batters with two outs Downes would double to left field to put runners at second and third. However, both would be stranded as Gonzalez enabled a ground bally out by Wells to end the inning.

Gonzalez would only allow one more Granite Hills player to get on base the rest of the way which was a one-out intentional walk to Sofia Mujica in the bottom of the seventh inning.

She would garner the win for the Cougars with seven strong innings of which only one run on six hits was allowed while walking three and fanning five.

For the Eagles, Ashley Yeargain started and would take the loss as she allowed two runs on two hits over an inning and a third in which she walked one and struck out one. Baugher would come into the game in relief in which she allowed one hit over five and two-thirds innings in which she walked three and struck out three.

The win by Steele Canyon moves their winning streak to three in a row and seven out of the last eight and their overall record to 21-7-1.

Granite Hills with the loss sees both their seven-game home winning and five-game overall streaks snapped. Their overall record is now 17-10.

The victory by Steele Canyon means they stave off elimination and force an elimination game to be played on Thursday afternoon slated for a 3:30 PM start time. Also, just like today, you will have to purchase tickets on GOFAN.

Both teams will look to get back to the CIF finals with the Steele Canyon Cougars for the first time since 2017 when they were the runners-up to Santana in the Division II game and Granite Hills who made it in 2022 when they beat Poway to win the Division II championship.

The winner of Thursday’s game will take on No. 3 Otay Ranch who defeated No. 6 Mission Hills 6-4 in the other semi-final.



CHULA VISTA – Strong pitching and a big fourth inning in which five runs were scored propel the No. 3 Christian Patriots to a 5-2 victory over No. 2 Eastlake on Tuesday afternoon to help them hold off elimination.

Starter Sienna Staite didn’t show any typical freshman nerves in a big game setting as the only runs of the game she allowed came in the bottom of the second inning with two outs on a two-run triple by Desiree Gomez.

Staite would give way to Ava Barrios who came in and completely shut down the Titans on the board the rest of the contest to preserve the crucial victory.

Offensively, Christian was capable of striking anytime despite being shut out which would come in handy in the top of the fourth inning.

The Patriots would take advantage of multiple opportunities in the top of the fourth inning especially with two outs as Jordyn Krystek would deal the first blow as she drove in both Lily Reyes and Kayleigh Martin to tie the game 2-2.

A couple of batters later Tyler Krystek would drive in Jordyn on a base hit to right field to make it 3-2, Gia Colmenero would successfully steal home as would Tyler Krystek to round out the scoring and give the Patriots a 5-2 lead.

Barrios who came into the contest in relief of Staite would only face a small threat which came in the bottom of the fourth inning when Eastlake with two outs would put runners on first and second but Barrios would get out of the inning when she struck out the next batter.

Despite giving up a leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh inning, Barrios would induce a double play ground out and another ground out to end the game.

Staite who started picked up the win in which she gave up two runs on four hits while walking one and striking out one. Barrios would be credited with the save as she allowed no runs on four hits over four innings in which she walked one and struck out three.

Christian with the win has now won two in a row and will play in another semi-final elimination game on Thursday at 3:30 PM at Eastlake. Tickets will be needed and they can be purchased on GOFAN.

The Patriots who lost 3-2 in last year’s CIF Division III championship will be looking to make a return trip where the winner of Thursday’s game will take on No. 1 Imperial who punched their ticket to the finals with an 8-1 victory over No. 4 Our Lady of Peace.