Fri, May 10 2013 03:12 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The Mesa League baseball pennant race has heated up in earnest following Wednesday’s spate of league contests when the host Hilltop Lancers blasted the current league leading Bonita Vista Barons by a score of 16-2 and the Otay Ranch Mustangs and Eastlake Titans each posted wins.
The end result is a three-way tie for first place between Hilltop, Bonita Vista and Otay Ranch, all with 5-2 league records, heading into Friday’s match-ups. Meanwhile, defending league champion Eastlake sits just one game out of the league lead.
On Friday, Bonita Vista will host Hilltop while Otay Ranch will visit Mater Dei Catholic and Eastlake will host Olympian.
The outcome of Friday’s contests will obviously set the stage for a dramatic finish in the final two games of the season next week.
Multiple teams could share the league banner. Maintaining momentum is critical at this point.
“We came out swinging the bats and did something we hadn’t done in a while, which is to hit the ball with guys in scoring position,” Hilltop coach Kurt Gritts said.
The Lancers (19-9 overall) led 5-1 after the first inning, 7-1 after four innings and broke open the game with seven runs in the fifth inning.
Liam Beyerle just missed hitting a grand slam home run in the bottom of the first inning, settling for a long single and two RBI.
Anthony Llamas went four-for-four with a double, run scored and one RBI, while Danny Goodrich went four-for-five with three runs scored and one RBI.
Calvin Faucher pitched the first six innings, throwing 109 pitches with eight strikeouts, one run allowed and three hits. He improved to 6-0 on the season.
Wednesday’s victory was the fifth in a row for Hilltop — all in the month of May.
“After winning the Lions tournament, we hadn’t played very well,” Gritts admitted. “I told the team that April was done and that we had to start turning it around in May, and we’ve done that.”
Bonita Vista dropped to 16-10 overall while Otay Ranch is 20-7 and Eastlake is 15-9.
Both Bonita Vista and Otay Ranch will compete in the realigned Division I playoffs while Hilltop and Eastlake will compete in the revamped Division II playoffs.
Gritts feels his team, if it continues winning in May, could conceivably secure one of the top four seeds in its playoff division and a first-round bye.
Otay Ranch has the third best winning percentage among Division I teams, trailing Carlsbad (23-4) and South Bay League leader Montgomery (19-6).
Montgomery shut out Hilltop, 4-0, to win the John Baumgarten Classic (formerly Metro Conference tournament) on April 13.
In other games on Wednesday, Otay Ranch shut out visiting Mater Dei Catholic, 7-0, while Eastlake topped host Olympian 6-2.
For Otay Ranch, Alec Rios threw a complete game one-hitter while striking out seven. Also for the Mustangs, Eddie Alvarez went four-for-four with a double and two RBI while Julio Melendrez doubled with three RBI.
In Eastlake’s victory, James L’esperance picked up the win on the hill while Michael Ledeboer went three-for-four with a double, triple and three RBI and Roman Garcia homered and scored three runs.
In regular season ending series next week, Bonita Vista will play Otay Ranch while Hilltop will play Eastlake.
The championship race remains too close to call.
“Everybody is still in it to win league,” Gritts said.
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