Fri, Apr 05 2013 02:34 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
Coaches are still trying to determine exactly how long it’s been since the Hilltop High School baseball team last won a Lions tournament championship. Some are pointing to as far back as the 1980s, though nothing official has been released.
Regardless of how long it’s been, no one can refute that the Lancers deserved to win this year’s 5A title in the nation’s oldest and largest high school baseball tournament as the 63rd edition of the Lions tourney wrapped up March 28.
Division MVP Steven Sherwood called Hilltop’s 4-2 come-from-behind victory against the La Jolla Vikings in the championship finale “a great team win.”
“It’s always a good tournament, so personally I’m honored to get the MVP award but I couldn’t have done it without my coaches and teammates,” he said.
Sherwood stroked a double to left center field in the top of the seventh inning to score teammate Anthony Llamas with what proved to be the game-winning run. Danny Goodrich followed with a smash into the right field corner to score Sherwood to give the Lancers their final margin of victory.
Llamas had started the rally by beating out an infield roller.
Calvin Faucher hurled the final two innings in relief of starter Liam Beyerle. Faucher set down the Vikings in order in the bottom of the seventh inning to close out the tournament championship.
Appropriately, he got the final out on a comebacker to the mound.
Though Beyerle did not get a decision, he did help his team begin its comeback by slugging a 3-2 pitch over the right field fence for a solo home run in the top of the fifth inning. The ball cleared the 320-foot mark.
He left the game after pitching five innings.
“Everybody stayed focused throughout the tournament,” said Beyerle, who rapped one home run and two triples in the Lancers’ 5-0 Lions tourney showing. “Even if we were down, we found a way to win.”
Hilltop opened tourney play with a 23-3 victory against Broomfield (Colo.) on March 25. Beyerle scored three runs in that game — all in a 21-run first inning assault by the Lancers. He also pitched three innings to pick up the win.
Hilltop then edged Valley Center, 5-3, on March 26 and closed out pool play with an 8-2 win over University City on March 27. “We were losing against Valley Center but got a walk-off win,” Beyerle said.
The Lancers faced Oceanside in the semifinals on March 28. The Pirates scored twice to open the game but Hilltop stormed back with four runs in the bottom of the first to take the lead. The Lancers then added a run in the bottom of the second inning to go up 5-2.
The 5-0 run pushed Hilltop’s early season record to 9-4. The Lancers open Mesa League play April 17 at Mater Dei Catholic.
Both Sherwood and Beyerle appear confident their team should be in this year’s championship mix.
“It looks very promising if we play like we’ve been playing so far,” Sherwood surmised.
“This year we have a great team,” Beyerle offered. “We’ve always talked about winning the Lions tournament, and that was one of our goals in the preseason. Now that we’ve actually done it, it feels awesome to get it.”
La Jolla, which fell to 8-5 with the title game setback, topped Escondido, 6-1, in its Lions semifinal match-up.
Sweetwater (2A Division) and Castle Park (3A Division) both advanced to the semifinals in their respective divisions in this year’s 120-team Lions tourney extravaganza.
Sweetwater ended its tourney run with a 3-0 loss to eventual 2A champ Malibu while eventual division runner-up Christian shaded Castle Park 9-5.
The Red Devils closed out pool play 3-0 with a 2-0 victory against San Diego High Tech on March 27. Mario Rivera, who cracked a double and triple in the game, drove in both SuHi runners in the bottom of the ninth. Andres Puga picked up the win by scattering five hits and striking out four batters.
Castle Park topped Boulder City (Nev.) by a 7-1 score in its pool finale. The Trojans out-hit their opponent 10-1.
In a consolation game, also played on March 28, Steele Canyon out-slugged Eastlake 11-4.
Lions Tournament Parade of Champions
(Cal State San Marcos)
•Vista 4, Madison 3
•San Dieguito 2, Valhalla 1
(Westview High School)
•Westview 14, Santa Fe Christian 4
(Hilltop High School)
•Hilltop 4, La Jolla 2
(Eastlake High School)
•Santa Fe Springs St. Paul 5, Fallbrook 4
(Otay Ranch High School)
•Horizon Christian 18, Christian 2
(Alliant International University)
•Malibu 15, San Diego High Tech 0
•Palo Verde Valley 6, Sierra Canyon 5 (8 innings)
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