Sun, Mar 28 2010 09:17 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
Otay Ranch High School baseball coach Bob McCurdy doesn't like to dwell on the events of last season that left the Mustangs excluded from the San Diego Section playoffs because of the inadvertent use of an ineligible player. Otay Ranch won the Mesa League championship but because the team had to forfeit 12 early season games, it was unable under San Diego Section rules to participate in post-season play.
The section permits teams a maximum of six forfeit losses to remain playoff eligible.
"That's such a negative thing and it was beyond our control," McCurdy said. "I want to focus on the positive."
And there are a lot of positive things to talk about concerning the 2010 edition of the Mustangs, starting with last Saturday's 14-1 victory against Mar Vista in the championship game of the Bully's East tournament at Sweetwater High School.
The tourney title was the first for an Otay Ranch team in the long-running event.
"We've entered it in the past and always seemed to shoot ourselves in the foot," said McCurdy, whose team improved to 6-0 on the young season. "We made the most out of it right away this year."
A six-run first inning helped. So did two more runs in the second inning and three more in the third inning for an 11-1 lead.
First baseman Luis Cerda helped lead the 18-hit assault by driving in three runs while catcher Alexis Mercado scored four runs. Center fielder Martin Romo went 3-for-4 with two RBI while Fernando Perez went 3-for-5 with two RBI and Noboyuki Gonzalez went 2-for-4 and drove in one run.
Adrian Guzman got the win by scattering two hits in four innings while reliever Alan Gomez hurled three innings of shutout ball.
Cerda, Mercado, Guzman, Perez and Romo all rank among the Mustangs' top returners, according to McCurdy. The talented trio is complemented by fellow returning standouts Humberto Tovalin (third base), Oscar Fitch (second base), Fernando Gonzalez (shortstop), Eric Moreno (left field), Alex Perez (pitcher) and Andrew King (designated hitter).
Perez is back after earning honors as the 2009 Mesa League Pitcher of the Year.
The Mustangs advanced to the Bully's East championship game after shading Patrick Henry, 5-4, the previous Thursday as King drove in the game-winning run. Mercado went 3-for-4 with one RBI while Moreno was 3-for-3 with a triple.
McCurdy said the team's next goal is to do well in the upcoming Lion's mega-tournament over spring break.
Otay Ranch opened play in the Metro Conference tournament on Monday with a 5-4 victory against San Ysidro as Tovalin hit a two-run home run in the opening frame and also earned the win in relief.
League play starts April 20.
"Our focus is on winning every game - we want to keep our momentum going," the ORHS coach said. "The Mesa League is a very tough league. We think we'll be battling for the title but there are some solid teams in the Mesa League. Hilltop could be the dark horse and Bonita Vista always seems to have a strong team each year. I think Eastlake might be a little down this year but they have a reputation as a solid team as well. I think we probably might have the best-rounded team. We have pitching, defense and hitting. If we can combine motivation and chemistry together, we'll be fine."
Meanwhile, last Saturday's tournament loss was the first for the Mariners after a 5-0 start.
"It's tough when you make six errors in two innings," MV coach Allan Delos Reyes said succinctly.
The Imperial Beach squad advanced to the Bully's final by defeating Kearny, 12-1, on the strength of five RBI by Slater Putland and two RBI by Jason Arroyo. The Mariners rapped out 15 hits while Francisco Garcia tossed a complete game three-hitter and also scored two runs.
Delos Reyes said the team's goal this year is to maintain a consistent pace throughout the season.
"Last year we kind of peaked sooner than later," said the MV coach of last year's 5-7 South Bay League finish. "We're trying to make that peak more toward the end of the season this year to compete for a top half finish. It's been a pretty good run so far. It's not just due to one person but it's been an overall team effort. It's been a terrific start. That Otay Ranch team is a very good team, too."
Montgomery wins Aztec/Foothiller Classic
The Montgomery Aztecs have made themselves the favorite in the early going of the 2010 high school baseball season to capture the San Diego Section Division III title after dealing East County power Grossmont a 2-0 shutout loss in last Saturday's finals of the Aztec/Foothiller Classic. Agustin Lopez earned his third win of the season to go with a 0.67 ERA by walking three batters and striking out five.
Montgomery has finished as the runner-up the past two seasons in the Division III championship game.
Kevin Carreon drove in the first run for the Aztecs (6-0) while Johnny Miranda homered in the third inning.
© 2009 The Star-News