By Andrew Smith
El Cajon (6/17/2014) – I first have to preface this with the obvious fact that I don’t take death well at all. If you’re at a funeral that I’m also attending, I’m the last person you want to look at because I will be flat-out balling my eyes out.
Luckily, I have a small family and haven’t lost hardly anyone, but I’ve lived through it with friends. The closest thing I have really lost myself was my best friend — that was my pet beagle named “Boomer” and I was a mess then.
Secondly, I rambled on way too long in this piece, but this brings forward an unanswerable dilemma that I will never learn and this just proves it.
How in the world do you say goodbye to your childhood hero???
Forget all the baseball accolades “Mr. Padre” Tony Gwynn racked up over his 20-year career with them because the only real number than fits our fallen hero is #1.
Our “King of Swing” was much much more than a just hall-of-fame baseball player, he was one of the greatest human beings in the history of San Diego and he will forever be remembered as just such.
Even after his brilliant career was over he was a true local legend. He coached SDSU baseball, still made the rounds on countless radio shows and made public appearances despite battling his fatal fight with cancer.
Anyone with the honor of knowing him or even got the chance to meet him was instantly treated like his best friend that he could share a laugh with.
The very first memories I have of falling in love with baseball came when I was four years old. The year was 1984 and the Padres were in World Series against Motown.
I was lucky enough to grow up in a neighborhood with about 12 guys around my age that loved sports just as much as the next. We played sports in the streets after school every day and loved it.
During that series we all played in the yard while my friends’ mom would watch us and give us all the updates, but when Tony got to the plate we all stopped and listened to it after she would yell “Tony’s up!”
Now that can take a look back on my childhood as an adult I feel so lucky to be born when I was.
In the 80’s I got to pick my favorites like Gwynn, Marino and Jordan, but I also was able to watch almost their entire careers from beginning to end.
The 90’s, in my opinion, was one of the greatest decades of sports in history, but I might be biased. We will probably never see a team like Jordan’s Bulls dominate the game of basketball and football varies, but we may never see another hitter like Gwynn maybe in our lifetime.
This year’s version of the Padres is currently hitting .215 as a team and Tony’s single season low was .309 in his first full year on the team. 19 straight seasons of batting over in today’s game in flat out ridiculous and that’s exactly how watching him hit felt like…almost unfair for the pitcher.
He patented the 5.5 hole on the regular and never struck out it seemed. Two of the best pitchers in baseball in his prime, Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux, were never able to strike him out and only once in his career did he punch out 3 times in one game.
Ted Williams is revered by many sports writer as the best hitter of all-time and the last to hit .400 in a season. Back in 1999 when they asked him to throw out the first pitch at Fenway Park he requested the help of Gwynn as he saw the same in him.
The Padres of the 90’s were just so much fun. Maybe that’s because life still wasn’t too serious for me yet as a teen. We had good teams in the early years, but until baseball realigned to three divisions in 1994 we stood no shot of the playoffs against the Braves era in the NL West.
We finally had a shot after that point. See ya later, Atlanta but we’ll gladly take Fred McGriff from you, as well as add Gary Sheffield from Milwaukee and we suddenly stood a chance.
In ’94 Gwynn accomplished his best year average wise at .394, but the season was cut short due to a strike and his best shot at hitting .400 came to halt in the middle of August. That was the first year of five straight years that he would top .350.
As a kid, before they had cables deals that broadcast every game, I would go to as many games as I could beg my parents to take me to. All of that would change in 1996 when I got my driver’s license and a car.
I spent the entire summer that year at Qualcomm and the Pads finally made the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. Even though they came up short that year it set up the magic of the 1998 season.
As if your senior year of high isn’t fun enough…I got to experience it with what was for my money the greatest year of baseball in my entire life.
Tony was still peaking and so were the Padres as a group after adding some key free agents, but the entire baseball world was mesmerized by the Mark McGwire/Sammy Sosa home run chase of Roger Maris’s magical number 61.
For the whole summer the entire country LOVED baseball which is what the sport needed after the ’94 strike. Especially San Diegans that knew our team was far better than the ’96 squad and we really might have the best team in the NL.
We were so good that year that we were fighting for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs late in the season and they were vocal about it in the media.
McGwire ended with 70 and Sosa had 66 at the end of the year. Sosa sat on 62 when he visited the Cubs came to Qualcomm late in the season so for three days he jam-packed the stadium.
I had the opportunity to go the second game to see him and he came up late in the game with the bases loaded and he hit No. 63 into the upper deck down the left field line.
Even Padres fans stood and cheered the sheer feat of what they had just seen. To this day I have never been more impressed in person at the ball park.
Gwynn and the Padres after the game were mad about the fans cheering because it basically cost them the game, yet the entire place was buzzing, and our team had already sealed a playoff spot.
We went on to face a Yankees team that was too good for us that season. A homerun by Gwynn in Game 1 went on to be his favorite hit of his career because of the stage it was on.
We actually held a lead late in the game and Mark Langston struck out Tino Martinez with a fastball right down the middle, only he didn’t get the call. Next pitch was a grand slam that I still believe changed the entire series in their favor for a 4-game sweep (IT WAS A STRIKE!!!).
In ’99 it wasn’t all about Tony’s Y3K chase for 3,000 hits. It was just a matter of when?
For years, one of my good friend’s dad would take us on a Vegas trip with another friend and his younger brother brought a couple of buddies along with him.
On this particular trip we were staying at the Luxor and they had a talking robot that could hold a conversation with you. I personally found it annoying, but the younger crowd and tourists loved it.
It was August 6th and the Pads were in Montreal. While were getting ready to go out for dinner the game was in in our hotel room, but I was there alone watching at the time running late. I waited one final time for an at-bat and he did it with a single leading to the entire team going onto the field to congratulate him as well as his wife and mother.
It was six years to the day of getting No. 2000 and coincidentally both also came on his mom’s birthday.
Our group was on watch for it the entire trip so after leaping up and down in our room I ran down to spread the word to the rest of the group.
Unable to find anyone for several minutes I found the younger kids of our group in a big group of people surrounding that stupid talking robot, which also included several people wearing Padres gear.
I made my way to the middle of the group and broke the news to that robot before anyone else in the crowd had heard the news and we I ended up having a 15 minute conversation about it with it in front of a big crowd in what looked like a staged show on the Vegas strip.
I’ll never forget the moment when my friends finally saw me and came up to ask what I was doing because they knew I hated that robot so much but saw me yelling at it in excitement they thought I had snapped, but when I broke the news to them the other stranglers who joined the party late and cheered about hearing the news like it was a World Cup goal for the USA.
Tony’s retirement was sad, but expected and the all-time stats are nothing short of amazement for anyone that wants to waste some time on Wikipedia in sheer awe.
Shortly after his career ended I came back from college and was managing a pizza place in Rancho Bernardo. I got a late night order and after gaining the customer’s phone number Anthony Gwynn’s name came onto my screen.
After taking the order for what turned out to be his favorite, just a normal cheese pizza, I had talked to him enough to realize who he really was and this was no joke!
I calmly said, “Tony I’ve always been a huge fan of yours and the love the Padres!”
“Well thank you man,” he replied. “Does that mean you can give me a discount?”
I handed out free pizzas left and right at that job, but for the one time it just didn’t feel right.
I said in an attempt to be funny, “Sorry, we only hand out deals to people who have actually hit over .400.”
He busted out with his infamous laugh and it was just like every story you had ever heard or read about him.
“I like that business approach,” he said. “It feels pretty full-proof now that I’m done.”
We ended up talking baseball for a while after and he turned out to be a weekly regular always ordering that same one large cheese pizza. It didn’t matter how many pizzas I had to make if he wanted to talk baseball I wasn’t going back to work until I absolutely had too.
It legitimately felt like I was friends with my one of my heroes on some strange sort of level.
I met several years later in person for the first time at the baseball CIF titles games played on his field at the SDSU stadium named after him. Between games it was the job of his players to get the field ready for the next.
He would come into the press box and watch a few innings with a whopping all 4 of us media guys. Hang out and talk baseball with us again like we were all a tightly knit group of friends just hanging out.
The first thing he asked was how are you all doing, when all we wanted was to ask him the same because of his health problems, but he was just that kind of guy.
The ego of big-time athletes can be outrageous in today’s day and age, but Tony made everyone in the room feel like they just as ordinary as him. It didn’t take much to get him to laugh, but when you did everyone joined in it was just that contagious.
I’ve spent 30+ years of my life rooting for Gwynn and I don’t ever think I will ever fall in baseball love with any other Padre in my life. I have never been a fan of Petco Park because Qualcomm was perfect in my eyes and I hate going downtown for anything.
I feel bad for kids now-a-days that have to watch such an anemic Padres offense year in and year out in such a pitcher friendly park with anyone hardly getting close to reaching .300 unless it’s a career year.
I highly doubt any sports figure will be as important to one single town and spend an entire Hall of Fame career there the whole time turning into his own.
He will always be my favorite athlete of all-time and I think he deserves every kind word anyone ever says about him, but don’t expect to see me at his public gathering.
Not me! No how!
I attempted to go to Jerry Coleman’s and spent the majority fighting off tears unsuccessfully.
It took two days to put my thoughts about Gwynn’s passing into words, along with countless tears onto a keyboard that wouldn’t surprise me if I broke it in the process.
I will be watching at home online instead with several Kleenex boxes close at hand for the oncoming flood gates that are ultimately inevitable.
Put all the baseball stats, batting titles, All-Star games and awards behind…
If there really is a heaven Tony Gwynn, the person, not the Hall of Fame athlete, is definitely up there looking down on San Diego. I will always remember my childhood hero and may he forever rest in peace.
By Andrew Smith
Linda Vista (6/6/2014) – All season long Francis Parker head coach DAVID GLASSEY preached to his team that defense wins championships. The one pitcher he credited that fully bought into that notion was southpaw GRANT SHIVES and as Friday’s starter in the San Diego Section CIF Division III championship game at USD’s Fowler Park that claim finally came full-circle as the Lancers (23-9) downed Mt. Carmel (21-15) 6-4 in 10 innings.
“I knew today was going to be a battle and runs were going to be at a premium,” Shives admitted after. “But I was mentally prepared for this game because I knew Mt. Carmel was a good team, so I was ready for a fight.”
Freshman shortstop NICK ALLEN single to lead off the game and came around to score on a HAYDEN HASTINGS ground out for an early 1-0 lead.
The Sun Devils countered in the second with three straight singles to start the frame. A couple of sacrifice flies and an error gave them a 3-1 advantage that they would hold throughout much of the game.
“Once I got through that second inning I was able to settle down,” added Shives. “It was my job to hold them at that point and I knew we’d eventually score some more runs.”
With two outs in the fifth Allen roped his second single of the day to left field. JONAH DAVIS and NATE GLASSER were both plunked to load the bases and then Hastings hit an infield single that was compounded with an error to tie the game at 3-3.
However, Mt. Carmel starter Daniel Vasquez retired the next 13 batters he faced as the game went deep into extra innings. Shives matched him out for out setting down 12 in a row himself.
In the 10th inning Parker right fielder AUSTIN ROGERS led off with a single. Allen sacrificed him to second and a ground out got him to third with two outs. Glasser walked and then Hastings hit a slow dribbler to third that Mt. Carmel third baseman Jack Melton was unable to make a throw on as the Lancers took a 4-3 lead.
“I was running as fast as I could to beat that one out,” said Hastings who finished the day 2-for-5 with 3 RBI. “I have to give all the credit to the guys ahead of me though to put me in that situation to be the hero and make a play for my team.”
JONATHAN VIZCAINO followed that by smashing a triple to right field to plate two more to giving Parker a 6-3 advantage.
“I was struggling at the plate today, but my coaches told me the pitcher was going to start me with off-speed stuff first pitch and then come back with a fastball,” claimed Vizcaino. “He left one up and out over the plate so I just went with the pitch and drove it into the opposite field.”
Vizcaino then came in in relief of Shives to close the door for the Lancers, but it didn’t come easy…
Mt. Carmel started the inning with a single and a run-scoring double to bring the tying run to the plate. Two outs late a walk brought the game-winning run to the plate, but Vizcaino got a grounder to third to seal the deal and begin the celebration for the Lancers’ first CIF title since 2007.
“It was really nerve-racking in that last inning especially when they had two men on,” Vizcaino stated. “Coach came out and told me to settle down and I was lucky enough to get that final out after that.”
Shives earned the victory to finish the season with a 9-1 mark allowing only two earned runs over nine innings. Allen and Rogers finished with two hits each and JAKE WIEGAND had a double.
“I don’t think any words can describe this feeling I have right now,” a choked up Allen said after. “I still have four more years to go so I hopefully this won’t be my last ring.”
Hopefully the freshman shortstop phenom’s math is just a little off and he doesn’t flunk a grade, which would only give him three more years of high school, but who’s counting?
“It was our kind of game today,” Parker’s skipper Glassey said afterward. “We never make it easy on ourselves, but there’s also no quit in this group of kids and this was a special season.”
By Andrew Smith
Bonita (6/5/2014) – Bad umpiring or officiating is always a human element that can take place at anytime or by anyone in sports. People simply make mistakes in all walks of life no matter what the situation is or the outcome.
With that being said…Santa Fe Christian got hosed, screwed over, home-jobbed, pilfered, embezzled or whatever you want to call it in their 5-4 season-ending loss against Bonita Vista in the fifth round of the San Diego CIF Division 2 playoffs.
“It’s an absolute travesty the way the game ended,” the usually mild tempered Eagles skipper DON MITCHELL fumed after. “It’s just sad that officiating ended up deciding the game in such a negative way.”
The Eagles had a bad roll of lady luck in the first inning. Thanks to a couple of bad hops in the infield and a pair of strike out pitches from DILLON PAULSON being too filthy for the Barons’ batters and even their own catcher, that they ended up actually recording five outs in the inning.
Last Thursday, Bonita Vista only managed three hits in a 3-0 loss against Paulson, but they did their job this time by capitalizing on it, plating all 5 of their runs on three hits…all in the first.
“Even when we we’re down at that point I knew we could still win and I told all our guys that,” Mitchell added. “They won’t see home plate again just play our game and we’ll be fine.”
And they were fine…
Walks to GARY SAGGESE and LUKE BROWN in the top of the second inning followed by a TYLER STEPHENS single loaded the bases for a DEAN ELIOTT sacrifice fly, but they would only strike for one in that frame.
They trailed 5-1 until they put together a rally in the sixth after Paulson led off with a single, followed by a BRIAN BLATNICK double to center field. A sacrifice fly by TYLER LEDBETTER plated a marker and then Saggese singled to put runners on the corners with one out. Blatnick scored on a wild pitch and LUKE VANDERTIE walked to keep the rally going at 5-3.
Stephens – one of Santa Fe Christian’s fastest players on their roster – then stepped to the plate with one out and runners on first and second base. He hit a slow chopper to short and they got the lead runner as well as Stephens who seemed to have already touched the first base bag with two feet before being called out.
“I may be older in my years,” Mitchell admitted. “But I ran a 4.5 from the third base’s coaching box to first base to argue that call. It was ridiculous.”
However, the umpiring crew – not to be outdone – saved their very best for last…
The Eagles were down to their last out of the season until COLE WEAVER and Paulson hit back-to-back singles. A wild pitch moved them each up one base and the Barons decided to give Blatnik a free pass to load the bases.
As if the drama couldn’t get any higher with a trip to the San Diego CIF Division II championship game on the line it did…
Ledbetter laced a ball to center field easily scoring Weaver. Paulson, having already been pinch-ran for earlier in the contest, wasn’t allowed to re-enter again if so was the case rounded third and bowled through the catcher’s attempt of trying to block the plate, but to no avail…
Even though Paulson’s legs were already through the plate and his heiny was literally sitting on the dish before he was first tagged (we have the pictures to prove it…coming soon) the home plate ump deemed him out, ending the Eagles’ season in utter disbelief.
“In all my years of coaching I’ve never seen two of the worst calls in one game in my time,” proclaimed Mitchell who’s coaching career spans 47 years dating back to 1977. “The umpires knew it too. When I contested the call at first he didn’t have one word in response and after the final out they sprinted to their cars to avoid any confrontation.”
In the end it’s a sad ending for a team that is just flat out better than Bonita Vista and even the team they would’ve faced in the final (El Camino).
By Andrew Smith
San Diego (6/3/2014) – When the initial seedings came out for the San Diego C.I.F. Division III section championships there was a lot of head-scratching going around the county that went with it. Many believe the committee spent too much time deciphering the Division I (3 hours) brackets that they were mentally fatigued at that point and just went with what sounded good.
Wayne and Garth weren’t available for comment at time of press, but one of their Top-10 list would’ve done D3 voters’ suffice.
Case-in-point Santana was given the #1 seed out of a terrible Grossmont Valley League. No problem with Mount Carmel getting the number two seed…but Canyon Crest at (13-15) the #3?! I don’t care if you’re playing the Yankees in their prime every day…you can’t lose your way into a first round bye when other teams have better credentials.
“Apparently if you play against a bunch of big schools and lose to them you get rewarded in the end when you play down to smaller schools in the playoffs,” Christian head coach Mike Mitchell fumed after learning his team had to play a play-in game as a 5-seed and then face their arch-nemesis Francis Parker after that.
The Lancers (21-10) are simply on a roll right now. With or without butter there’s no denying what they’ve accomplished in their playoff run after serving their way to the Division III Championship Game on Friday at USD by beating Santana (22-12) for the second time in four days 6-1.
“No one expected us to be where we are right now,” a happy Lancers’ skipper DAVID GLASSEY said after the victory. “A lot of people didn’t think we could do what we did, so it’s a great feeling.”
After heavy scouting…Parker’s main plan was to put the ball in play and force Santana to make plays defensively. The second train of thought was to make the Sultans’ ace Alan Strong throw as many pitches as possible and look to take the ball right back up the middle.
In the top of the fourth, Parker was just trying to take the lead, but came up on some fool’s gold, plating 5 runs thanks to timely hitting and a couple Santana guitar solos that went oh so wrong that it could never be labeled “Smooth,” like his
NATE GLASSER singled to shortstop and HAYDEN HASTINGS sacrificed him to second base, but the catcher flung the ball down the right field line to plate a run. JONATHAN VIZCAINO laced one of his three hits on the day to right field and it was misplayed for an another error to plating a second run and so went Santana’s fourth inning.
JAKE WIEGAND singled to shortstop and Vizcaino scored on the catcher’s second error of the inning. AUSTIN ROGERS walked and NICK ALLEN singled to center field giving Parker all the runs they would eventually need.
“Jake (Wiegand) pitched really well and Johnny (Vizcaino) is throwing the ball better than I’ve ever seen him throw all year,” admitted Glassey. “We have set ourselves up in the perfect position for a chance at a title and hopefully on Friday we’ll make that dream come true.”
Bonita Vista 4, Santa Fe Christian 3 (10 inn) – It was a heart-breaking loss for the Eagles (23-6) down at Baron Park on Tuesday. They led 2-1 into the bottom of the sixth until a couple of doubles by Bonita Vista (21-11) tied the game at 2-2, eventually leading to extra innings.
Santa Fe Christian finally jumped out in front in the top of the 10th thanks to a walk to COLE WEAVER and a potential game-winning RBI-double by GARY SAGGESE which put the Eagles up 3-2.
But not so fast…
A lead off walk for the Barons turned into a sacrifice bunt putting the tying run on 2nd with one out. SFC coach DON MITCHELL didn’t think twice about intentionally walking Bonita Vista best hitter Esteban Velasco with the game on the line.
However, thanks to the home plate umpire the two teams will meet again on Thursday with a trip to the San Diego Section Division II Championship on the line after calling a “questionable” or as others put it a “home job” balk to put the winning run on second.
“Their batter yelled for a timeout and everyone thought that was the case except the home plate umpire who never granted it to him,” Mitchell said after dumbfound. “Our pitcher casually stepped off and the ump called it. That was the absolute game-changer because the winning run went to second.”
The Eagles had won 12 straight entering this contest, but afterward they could blame themselves as much as the umpiring crew as the flew out 13 times and were struck out another 8 to make up 21 of their 30 outs.
Good news is…if they win Thursday with their backs against the walls they still have the chance to rectify things and bring home a Division II Championship trophy back to Solano Beach along with them.
By Andrew Smith
Bonita (5/29/2014) – Santa Fe Christian head coach DON MITCHELL has been harping since day one of the 2014 season about facing a hard schedule early would only help them when it came to Coastal League play and the C.I.F. Playoffs.
Turns out he was absolutely right…and SFC is proving the voters right that being ranked No. 5 in the San Diego county is absolutely no fluke.
Even though they lost a few games against some top-notch competition early on in the Pirate Baseball Classic and North County Tournaments, they swept through the league play unscaved and are one win away from the Division II Championship Game Saturday afternoon at 1:30 at host USD’s Fowler Park after a 3-0 blanking of Bonita Vista.
“We’re not gonna count our chickens before they hatch,” admitted Mitchell. “We know anything can happen in this sport so we’re gonna keep the pedal to the metal until the very end and keep on trucking.”
Flopping two aces in his deck every day – in COLE ACOSTA and DILLON PAULSON – is certainly a luxury that Mitchell can afford. What gets lost in the mix is that he has a third joker up his sleeve in CHASE BUSHOR and he can be the wild card at a moment’s notice.
Bushor started the scoring in the top of the first by drawing a walk and later scoring on a COLE WEAVER single. GARY SAGGESE drew a base-loaded walk for the second run on a 3-2 pitch with two outs.
Not only did Weaver provide what would end up to be the game-winning RBI, but he also scored the Eagles’ third and final run in the sixth to give Paulson a little more insurance that he would eventually never need.
“I think this was the most poised Dillon has been all year,” said his skipper after. “The umpire had a very small strike zone, but he had zero walks, hit one batter and was overall terrific.”
With graduation slated for Friday for the senior class of Santa Fe Christian the second round game eventually slated for Friday was move up a day. Barons’ head coach didn’t think that mattered in the eventual outcome, but rumor has it that SFC’s coach Mitchell put so much emphasis on this game that he made each individual player drive to the game solo – whether they were going to a late-night bonfire or not – he wanted them all to know what it felt like to be in the driver’s seat…
That’s exactly where the Eagles now find themselves in the lower bracket of the Division II playoffs. They are one win away from a championship game appearance with two and a half aces up heir sleeve.
By Andrew Smith
San Diego (5/28/2014) – The first round of the Division II playoffs wasn’t for the faint of heart on the Solana Beach campus of Santa Fe Christian. DILLON PAULSON went 3-for-3 on the day with a double and plated COLE WEAVER in the bottom of the first inning for his San Diego county leading 44th RBI. That eventually stood as the lone marker as the Eagles out-flew the Falcons from Scripps Ranch 1-0 behind great defense and a pitching gem from COLE ACOSTA.
“It was just a great game from our entire team today,” said SFC coach DON MITCHELL. “Cole pitched one of his best games of the year, our defense – especially DEAN ELIOTT – played fantastic and it was just a great team win.”
Acosta allowed only four hits and struck out nine en route to his 9th victory of the year against only two losses, but it definitely didn’t come easy.
In their at-bat, the Falcons (14-14) led off the seventh inning by putting the tying run on third with a triple. Mitchell then had a conference on the mound with his infield on how they wanted to play it. The final decision was to play the corners up and the middle infield halfway in.
That plan turned out perfect as the next batter hit a grounder to Eliott who calmly threw the runner out at home in a bang-bang play. A fly out provided the Eagles’ second out of the inning, but a ball was then laced to left and the tying run was held up at third.
However, the communication from the SFC (22-5) defense led to the final out of the game by nailing the trailing runner at second base.
“When it was all said and done everyone was exhausted,” added Mitchell. “Our fans went through a roller coaster of a ride for that final inning and they were all exhausted. Trust me…the same went for all of us.”
With graduation slated for Friday the Eagles’ second round game against Bonita Vista will be moved up one day and be played tomorrow on the campus of the #2 ranked Barons.
FRANCIS PARKER 5, Christian 2 – Some things in life are just unexplainable. So too is the Lancers’ (19-9) dominance over the Patriots for the past several years after taking them down for the third time this season.
“I don’t know what it is about them,” admitted head coach DAVID GLASSEY. “For some reason whenever we step onto the field with them we know we can win.”
JAKE WIEGAND got the victory by allowing only two runs over five innings and JOHNATHAN VIZCAINO got credit for a 2-inning save to close things out. Vizcaino was also credited with the game-winning RBI by lacing a 2-run single to left field in the bottom of the fourth, giving the Lancers the lead for good.
“Honestly, I was looking for a ball to drive the opposite way,” Vizcaino recalled. “But he tried to sneak a fastball inside on me and I just turned on it. We had a rough couple of games to end the season, but now we’re putting things together and the wheels are really starting to turn for us so we’re ready for our next opponent.”
Parker added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth after HAYDEN HASTINGS led off with a double. Vizcaino moved him to third, but it turned out for naught as Wiegand tripled him home and then scored himself on a JOSEPH PASQUILL single.
“We have been beating this team ever since my freshman year,” Wiegand said. “It’s gotten to a point where we just have a certain confidence or swagger when we step onto the field with them that we can win every time.”
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
DILLON PAULSON – SFC
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
COLE ACOSTA – SFC
DILLON PAULSON (1B-P) – SFC
NATE GLASSER (LF-P) – FRANCIS PARKER
COLE WEAVER (INF) – SFC
CHASE BUSHOR (SS-P) – SFC
LANE O’DEA (CF-P) – HORIZON
JONAH DAVIS (CF) – FRANCIS PARKER
DYLAN ROBERTSON (INF-P) – LA JOLLA COUNTRY DAY
NICK ALLEN (SS)- FRANCIS PARKER
COLE ACOSTA 1B-P) – SFC
JAMIE ABRAMS (OF) – BISHOP’S
KEATON WEISZ (SS-P) – LJCD
GRANT SHIVES (P) – FRANCIS PARKER
HAYDEN HASTINGS (C) – FRANCIS PARKER
ALFONSO RIVAS (OF-P) – LJCD
RONALD STOKES (3B-P) – HORIZON
BRIAN BLATNICK (OF) – SFC
BRANDON WACHS (1B) – LJCD
JAKE WIEGAND (P) – FRANCIS PARKER
BULLA GRAFT (2B-P) – BISHOP’S
CHRIS TEIXEIRA (C) – ROCK ACADEMY
By Andrew Smith
San Diego (5/14/2014) – It took one one extra day longer than expected, due to the tragedy of wildfires ablaze throughout the county, but Santa Fe Christian took the title of Coastal League champions on Wednesday with a 9-2 victory over Francis Parker.
“This might be the most fun team I’ve ever been around,” said head coach DON MITCHELL. “We really didn’t know what to expect this season, but if you look at where we were at the beginning of the season, compared to now it’s crazy. We knew we were good and this group is so unified, close and resilient it’s just been a blast to coach this group of kids.”
The Eagles’ (19-5, 8-0 CL) skipper has been harping that his No. 8 ranked squad has been doing a great job of scoring early to put pressure on other teams to beat their stellar pitching staff.
And that’s exactly what happened in their league-clinching performance.
DEAN ELIOTT knocked the second pitch of the game into left field. CHASE BUSHOR then drew a walk and COLE WEAVER sacrificed them an extra base.
Last season, as a sophomore, DILLON PAULSON would rather not pitch because he only wanted to hit and for good reason. He led the Coastal League with 14 doubles.
Fast forward one year and he’s still raising more and more college scouts’ eyebrows, as he has gone 15-for-26 (.577) in league play with 4 home runs and 25 runs batted in.
On top of that, he’s also 6-1 toeing the rubber, with a 1.88 earned run average in 52 innings pitched.
“I knew he was a special player, but to expect all the production he’s given us would be insane,” added Mitchell.
Paulson ended the day 2-for-2 with 4 RBI and a couple of runs scored, but his first at-bat single got SFC on the board and they never looked back.
After a rare Lancers’ (15-10, 5-3 CL) error put another base runner on TYLER LEDBETTER came through with a run-scoring single and LUKE VANDERTIE was plunked with a pitch with the bases loaded to give them a 3-0 lead.
Paulson then smashed a 2-run homer to center field in the second inning and TYLER STEPHENS ripped a RBI double to right field in the third to make it a six run game before Parker ever knew what hit them.
COLE ACOSTA earned the victory going 5 and 2/3 innings improving his record to 7-2 with a 1.67 ERA.
Next up for the Lancers on Thursday…they have to face Paulson on the mound.
Santa Fe Christian 7, La Jolla Country Day 4 – There are several baseball aficionado around the county that have the Eagles (17-5, 6-0 CL) ranked in their weekly Top 10 poll the past couple of weeks.
So far, Santa Fe Christian is making them look like geniuses as they haven’t loss since and are now on a 6-game winning streak.
“We’re definitely playing really good ball right now,” admitted Eagles’ skipper DON MITCHELL. “The most important thing we are doing a good job at it scoring early putting pressure on our opponents to score off of our pitchers and that can be a reals daunting task to handle.”
TYLER LEDBETTER was the main culprit against the Torreys (10-9, 2-3 CL) on Wednesday afternoon after blasting his second home run of the year with a 2-run blast to left center field in the top of the second inning.
DILLON PAULSON got the victory on the mound for SFC improving his record to 6-1, but also helped his own cause by smashing a 3-run shot in the third inning.
“Dillon did a great job of hitting all his spots on all three of his pitches tonight,” Mitchell added. “He did a great job of keeping them off-balanced, but his and Tyler homers were absolute bombs.”
SFC catcher LUKE VANDERTIE went 2-for-3 with a RBI double, while BRANDON WACHS and TRAVIS WILKIE each had one of their own for LJCD.
The Torreys actually had the tying run on deck in the bottom of the sixth inning, but COLE ACOSTA came in for the Eagles to close the door by recording the last five outs…four of them by strike outs.
Horizon 7, Bishop’s 4 – Just like SFC, the Panthers (15-8, 3-2 CL) jumped out to an early 6-0 lead. RONALD STOKES started the scoring with a RBI single in the first and added another in a 5-run second inning outburst on his way to a 2-for-4 day with 3 RBI and three stolen bases.
The second inning went like this for the Panthers…
Three walks, a OSCAR CORDOVA double, a pair of wild pitches and errors all led to the outburst, which gave starter TOMMY LEE more than enough run support to turn the switch off on the Knights’ day.
Bishop’s (10-11. 0-6 CL) actually outhit Horizon 10-6 led by 2 a-piece from CYRUS NOALN and REED MEYER. They also were granted four wild pitches and swiped five bags, but 12 men left on base finally did the Knights in.
Santa Fe Christian 8, Rock Academy 0 – Many thought the Warriors (3-10, 0-6 CL) were barking up the wrong tree coming into this year’s version of the Coastal League and that exactly how it’s played out to date. Through six league matchups, they have been outscored 83-8 after the Eagles (16-5, 5-0 CL) handed them their latest loss on Tuesday afternoon.
LUKE BROWN and DILLON PAULSON each had two hits, but DEAN ELIOTT stole the show going 4-for-4 with a double a 1 RBI. Brown along with COLE WEAVER also had knocked a two-bagger in part of a 13-hit attack.
“Dean was locked in today,” said head coach DON MITCHELL.” It didn’t matter what their guy tried to throw him, he was all over it.”
With four games this week in five days, the rest of his Santa Fe Christian teammates will also need to pull their own weight if they hope to stay undefeated in league play to set up a two game series with Francis Parker next week, which would basically be for the league title.
“We can’t afford to look ahead to anything but tomorrow,” Mitchell added, talking about a big game against rival LJCD.
The game was originally scheduled for last Tuesday, but was rescheduled due to a virus that hit the Solana Beach campus so hard they couldn’t even put a full team on the field.
GRIFFIN RYDIN (1-1) and TYLER STEPHENS combined on the shutout going four and three innings respectively. Together they threw a 2-hitter, each giving up a hit a-piece, but they also ending up plunking six batters and walked three to keep things interesting for the Eagles’ faithful fans, giving them something else to worry about besides catching a virus.