Fri, Apr 16 2010 02:11 AM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The 60th San Diego Lions tournament featured 112 teams from both coasts of the United States and though no Metro Conference team played for a championship, four area squads did earn a measure of respect by advancing to the semifinal playoffs in their respective divisions.
Bonita Vista and Eastlake both tied for third place in the 6A Division while top-ranked Montgomery had to settle for a third-place tie with Elk Grove in the elite Classic Division and Olympian took a third-place tie with Morse in the 3A Division.
Semifinal playoffs and finals took place April 1 at various sites around San Diego County, including Southwestern College and Otay Ranch High School in the South Bay.
"There's a lot of pride to get four South Bay teams to the semifinals," said Bonita Vista coach Vincent Gervais, whose team was eliminated in a wild 10-9 semifinal loss to Steele Canyon. "It shows the rest of the county that we're better than what we're given credit for."
Eastlake and Bonita Vista looked to match up for the 6A Division title. However, neither could get past their semifinal opponents. While the Barons were playing catch-up on the Cougars' field in Rancho San Diego, Eastlake was battling Ramona at SWC.
The Titans, who had gone through their three round-robin games undefeated, committed three costly errors in absorbing a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Bulldogs.
In the ensuing division championship game at SWC, Ramona topped Steele Canyon, 1-0, on a home run in the first inning by sophomore Jackson Willeford and a combined three-hitter by hurlers Cody Willingham and Curtis Sullivan.
Willeford was named the division MVP.
Brian Lockey keyed Bonita Vista in its semifinal loss to the runner-up Cougars with a pair of doubles and three RBI while Oli Lopez, Victor Munoz and Daniel Castellanos each scored two runs.
"The results (an 8-5 record) say that we're playing good baseball but, in reality, we're not buying into the game yet," said Gervais, whose team finished 2-1 in pool play with victories against Mira Mesa and Cypress Bay (Fla.) and a loss to Westview. "We're a talented team but we're not playing smart baseball."
The Barons allowed 14 hits against Steele Canyon, including a disastrous third inning when the Cougars poured across seven runs with two outs. Bonita Vista chipped away at an early 10-4 deficit, almost catching up by taking advantage of five errors by the winners.
Lopez and Freddie Velarde lead BV with a .444 hitting average while Justin DiStefano is batting .429, Jose Rivas is hitting .417 and Oscar Sanay is batting .400. Troy Cruz (2-0) leads the Baron pitching staff with a 2.40 earned-run average while Jesse Hernandez (3-1) owns a 3.20 ERA, Anthony Olivieri (2-1) has a 3.23 ERA and Alex Quiros (1-1) has a 3.32 ERA.
Inopportune errors cost Eastlake in its semifinal loss to Ramona. Frank Kopas had a no-hitter going before the Bulldogs erupted for four runs in the fourth inning. Three errors led to four unearned runs in the game as Kopas, Josh Palet and Pat McGuire combined on a four-hitter.
EHS coach Dave Gallegos admitted disappointment but also pointed to the brighter side.
"For my young team it's good for them to get experience for league play," Gallegos said. "It's going to be a tough league this year. The development we're making is encouraging but mistakes continue to hurt us. Other than that, team chemistry is an important asset for us."
Eastlake was the lone Metro team to go undefeated in its three pool games, defeating Point Loma and Patrick Henry both by 5-4 scores and edging San Pasqual 4-2.
Team leaders include Andrew Calica (.429 hitting average), Christian Loera (.343). Jeffery Patacsil (.333), Paolo Isaac (.325), Sean Green (.324) and Patrick McGuire (.323). Henry Ojeda is 3-1-1 on the mound with a 2.14 ERA while Kopas is 2-3 with a 2.67 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 34 innings. Palet has a 0.70 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 10 innings of work while Dylan McDonald has a 2.34 ERA in 12 innings.
Montgomery entered the tournament as the top-ranked team in the section but a 4-0 loss to Poway hurt in pool play. The Aztecs (10-3) finished 2-1 in pool play with victories against Green Valley (Nev.) and El Camino Real and the loss to the Titans. Montgomery drew Jupiter (Fla.) in the semifinals, losing a gritty match-up 6-4.
Luis Leyva slammed a solo home run while Jovanni Reynoso collected two RBI in the semifinal loss.
Otay Ranch entered the tournament as the section's second-ranked team but that is likely to change after the Mustangs' 1-3 tourney showing. The Mustangs opened with a convincing 6-1 over Granite Hills but fared poorly on the scoreboard in subsequent pool losses to Elk Grove (17-1 on March 30) and Rancho Buena Vista (6-0 on March 31). Otay Ranch closed out tourney play with a 9-8 loss to Cathedral Catholic in a consolation game played April 1.
Olympian finished 2-1 in pool play with victories against Brawley (3-2) and Kearny (12-0) and an 11-1 loss to Foothills Christian. The Eagles matched up against Valley Center in the semifinals, with the Jaguars scoring a 3-1 victory.
Johnathan White rocked a double and drove in three runs to pace Olympian against Kearny while also picking up the win to go 3-0 on the young season.
© 2009 The Star-News