Fri, Apr 11 2014 07:00 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The Eastlake Titans emerged as the champions of the 14-team John Baumgarten/Metro Conference tournament by defeating the visiting Chula Vista Spartans, 11-2, last Saturday. The Titans, who improved to 8-3 on the season, finished the tournament with a 5-1 record, including a 4-1 pool record.
What could be in store for coach David Gallegos’ team before the season is finished?
Maybe a league title? Maybe a CIF championship?
Gallegos smiles at the suggestion, obviously flattered, but admits the season will have to play itself out to deliver a final verdict, one way or another.
“It’s going to be difficult,” he said. “There are some pretty good teams in Division II and we’re young. But I’m happy about our start. The kids are very good learners and so far they’ve been doing a good job.”
Two freshmen were in the line-up for Saturday’s championship game against the Spartans: Ben Ramirez and Casey Schmitt. The Titans also list two sophomores on their varsity roster: Nicholas Montoya and Julian Escobedo.
Eastlake’s roster also boasts nine juniors to go with nine seniors.
Gallegos had to be pleased by the contribution of the team’s underclassmen in the tourney title contest.
Junior Baley Castro, who went three-for-three in the game, slammed a three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning to help spur a seven-run uprising by the hosts and later just missed another home run by dinging a ball off the top of the left field fence for a stand-up double to finish the game with four RBI. He also scored three runs.
Schmitt contributed a pair of sacrifice flies to score runners while juniors Escobedo (triple) and Michael Wade (sacrifice fly) also collected RBI in the game.
Senior Dominic Field picked up the win with four strong innings of relief pitching, striking out five while allowing two hits.
Gallegos said pitching will be a key factor in upcoming Metro-Mesa League play against east side rivals Otay Ranch, Bonita Vista, Olympian and Mater Dei Cathlolic.
Eastlake, Otay Ranch, Bonita Vista and Mater Dei Catholic all finished with 4-1 tournament pool records, with the Titans advancing to the championship game by virtue of a run-differential tie-breaker.
“Whoever gets the best pitching will be favored,” the EHS coach said.
The Titans, already strong in that department, look to be buoyed by the activation of seniors Hudson Pearson and Michael Martinez Jr., both of whom had to sit out the mandatory 30-day waiting period after transferring from The Rock Academy.
Pearson, who stands six feet, two inches tall and weighs 195 pounds, has been added to Baylor University’s National Letters of Intent list and will join that program in the fall. He compiled a 2.30 ERA with 64 strikeouts and a .212 opponent batting average in 51.2 innings last season for the Warriors while also earning recognition as a Perfect Game 2013 Underclass Honorable Mention.
In 2012, Pearson was named the Frontier League Pitcher of the Year with a 2.09 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 57 innings as he helped guide The Rock Academy (23-5-1) to a Frontier League championship and a runner-up finish in the San Diego Section Division V championship game. He finished his sophomore season 10-2 on the mound with a .188 opponent batting average.
As a freshman in 2011, the 2010 Pony-13 World Series champion for Chula Vista North recorded a 1.28 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 43.2 innings and was an all-league first team selection.
Martinez batted .354 with 30 RBI during The Rock Academy’s run to the Division V final in 2012; he hit .359 last season with five home runs.
Martinez participated in the 2012 Sunshine West Showcase.
Pride & honor
Chula Vista, which finished 4-1 in pool play and dropped to 4-7 on the year after Saturday’s setback, scored both of its runs in the top of the second inning. Brandon Teichman led off the frame with a double and teammates Thomas Otero and Eli Savage followed with walks to load the bases.
Javier Anzar drove in one run with an infield hit while Roberto Valadez later coaxed a bases-loaded walk to plate another run.
Savage came into the game in the bottom of the second inning and remained on the mound until he was relieved with one gone in the fifth inning.
CVHS coach Jim Westlund said his team was “very proud to have won the west bracket of the Baumgarten/Metro tourney.”
“Our key wins over Olympian, San Ysidro, High Tech CV and Bonita Vista have given our team the confidence to compete for the (Metro-Pacific) league title this year,” Westlund said. “While we didn’t play our best game in the final, it doesn’t diminish the hard work and outstanding effort it took to get to the title game.”
The Spartans rebounded on Monday to defeat visiting Lincoln, 11-5, in non-league play.
“We are planning on a positive season from this point on,” Westlund said.
Eastlake defeated Hilltop, 17-3, to capture the Metro tournament junior varsity championship game played prior to the Eastlake-Chula Vista varsity encounter. The JV Titans are 13-0.
Eastlake returned to varsity action by blasting visiting Hilltop, 11-0, in a non-league game on Monday to improve to 9-3 on the season.
The annual Lions tournament starts Monday, April 14, and concludes Thursday, April 17, at various playing sites around San Diego County. Otay Ranch and Montgomery are participating in the upper tier Classic Division while San Ysidro and Eastlake are participating in the Premier Division, Bonita Vista and Hilltop are in the 5A Division, Chula Vista is in the 4A Division, Mater Dei Catholic, Mar Vista, Castle Park and Olympian are in the 3A Division and Sweetwater and Southwest are in the 2A Division. The 3A Division semifinals (9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.) and championship game (3:30 p.m.) are scheduled at Mater Dei Catholic.
Sweetwater defeated Olympian, 4-2, in a Metro tournament game played last Friday at Petco Park as part of the section’s prep showcase conducted in conjunction with the Padres. Marco Rivera, Geronimo Rodriguez, James Zarate and Salvador Rosales each were credited with one RBI in the winning effort while Rosales picked up the victory with five strikeouts in five innings.
Metro Conference Tournament
x-Eastlake 4-1, Bonita Vista 4-1. Otay Ranch 4-1, Mater Dei Catholic 4-1, San Ysidro 3-2, Olympian 1-4, High Tech Chula Vista 0-5
x-wins tiebreaker, run-differential
Chula Vista 4-1, Hilltop 3-2, Southwest 3-2 ,Montgomery 2-3, Mar Vista 1-4, Castle Park 1-4, Sweetwater 1-4
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