The annual San Diego Lions baseball tournament advertises itself as the “oldest, biggest and best” high school baseball tournament in the United States. Certainly, the heralded event – now in its 62nd edition – serves as a top-flight measuring stick for area teams in the early part of the season.
To that end, 14 South County schools, including all 13 from the Metro Conference, entered this year’s imposing 118-team mega draw. Oldest, yes. Biggest, yes.
The best? Area squads certainly were tested in this year’s field, with just one team — the Hilltop Lancers — advancing to Thursday’s playoff round.
Chula Vista coach Jim Westlund called the tournament “an institution for most San Diego baseball teams.”
“It is an honor to play and host games in this tournament because of its historic traditions,” the CVHS coach said. “The Tournament itself is extremely well organized and the Lions Club works with the High School Baseball Coaches Association to ensure a successful tourney. Having a quality high school baseball tournament in San Diego has enhanced the reputation for all San Diego high school baseball teams.”
The Spartans (9-6 overall) competed in the tourney’s 4A Division, finishing 3-1. Chula Vista dropped its tourney opener, 6-2, to La Jolla on Monday and followed with three victories: 2-1 against Brawley on Tuesday, 5-2 against Canyon Crest Academy on Wednesday and 7-0 against Atwater Buhach Colony in a consolation game on Thursday.
John Terrazas hit a go-ahead double in the sixth inning and blasted a game-winning double in the eighth inning to help the Spartans squeeze past Brawley. Nigel Tavarez and Anthony York combined to limit Brawley to one run over eight innings.
York drove in two runs in Wednesday’s victory.
Bonita Vista coach Vincent Gervais said his memories of the Lions tournament go back to his childhood days when games were played at the Navy yard.
“I enjoy the competition afforded by the energy of all the teams involved that come to San Diego, he said. “I enjoy the opportunity to play teams from out of the county and I enjoy playing a competitive schedule.
“The tournament organizers do a terrific job seeding teams by their level of talent, which makes most games competitive ... Bottom line: there is no better tournament around during the spring break.”
The Barons, with a 2-1 showing in he 6A Division, were certainly competitive in this year's tournament. Bonita Vista (8-5 overall) recorded round-robin wins against Grass Valley Nevada Union (8-2 on Tuesday) and Mission Hills (2-1 on Wednesday).
Six players knocked in runs in the win over Nevada Union, including two by Alex Haas while Matthew Ball earned the win by scattering six hits in a complete game effort, striking out eight batters.
Miguel Solano-Espinosa leads the Barons with a .472 hitting average through 13 games, followed by Carlos Herrera (.389), Ryan Miguel (.354), Troy Cruz (.350) and Austin Wilkes (.333). Cruz is 2-1 with a 0.00 ERA in 25 innings of work while Miguel sports a 2.62 ERA.
Danny Siwek is 2-1 with a 1.72 ERA and .148 opponent batting average while Ball is 3-2 with a 2.15 ERA.
Hilltop won its pool in 4A Division play with consecutive victories against Lincoln (8-1 on Monday), Broomfield, Colo. (2-1 on Tuesday) and Mt. Miguel (6-0 on Wednesday).
The Lancers (7-8 overall) dropped a 7-5 decision to Granada in the semifinals at Coronado High School.
James Roman got Hilltop rolling with a four-hitter against Lincoln, striking out seven hitters, while Steven Sherwood, Ian Moses, Justin Sparby and Austin Shirk each drove in a pair of runs.
Erick Tec struck out 10 batters while yielding just four hits in the win over Broomfield while Jonathan Ruiz and Lorenzo Tejeda each drove in one run.
Tejeda fired a complete game victory against Mt. Miguel, striking out five batters while scattering seven hits. At the plate, Ruiz, Sherwood and Moses all stroked doubles.
Sparby boasts a .429 hitting average and a team-leading nine RBI.
Above and beyond
Otay Ranch also posted one of the more successful showings in this year’s Lions tourney for area squads, going 3-1 in the Premier Division with victories against San Pasqual (10-9 on Monday), Madera South (8-7 on Tuesday) and Point Loma (22-4 in a consolation game on Thursday).
The Mustangs lost, 3-2, to San Diego on Wednesday to miss Thursday’s playoffs.
In the win over Madera South, Adrian Tovalin went 2-for-3 with two RBI while Michael Descisciolo slammed a home run.
Otay Ranch improved to 11-4 overall with the three tourney wins.
Montgomery (7-6-1 overall) finished 2-2 in the top-rung Classic Division, including Thursday’s 5-4 consolation victory against Granada Hills Kennedy. The Aztecs finished 1-2 in round-robin play, defeating Grossmont (7-1 on Wednesday) following losses to Woodland Hills El Camino Real (2-1 on Monday) and Torrey Pines (6-2 on Tuesday).
Six players knocked in runs in the win over Grossmont, with Everardo Tovar picking up the win on the hill. Montgomery seized the early momentum on the strength of a 4-0 lead. Dionasys Kalentermidis scored twice.
Kalentermidis (four hits, two doubles) and Jesus Estrada (doubler) each drove in a pair of runs in the win over Kennedy. Three Aztec pitchers saw action: Jimmy Bolanos, Miguel Rodriguez (four strikeouts) and Bernardo Cortes.
Around the horn
Eastlake, which tops all South County teams in the weekly prep polls, finished 1-2 in round-robin play. The Titans defeated Valhalla, 4-3, on Tuesday and dropped Premier Division contests to Pacific Palisades (4-1 on Monday) and Point Loma (10-7 on Wednesday).
Andrew Calica went 2-for-3 while Arturo Hurtado drove in the game-winning run against Valhalla. Josh Palet picked up the victory on the mound.
Eastlake carried an 8-5 overall record into Thursday’s Lion’s tourney consolation game against West Covina South Hills.
Olympian picked up one victory in its three round-robin games by defeating Granada Hills, 7-6, in a 4A Division contest on Tuesday. The Eagles opened tourney play with a 4-1 loss Monday to Palm Springs and closed out pool play with a 10-2 loss to Santana on Wednesday.
Marcos Gonzalez drove in three runs in Tuesday’s win while teammate Austin Perez collected two RBI. Jon White led Olympian with four hits in the game.
Three Eagles took the mound: Tommy Braud, Rob Tarr and Robert Rodriguez. Braud faced 19 batters, yielding six hits and five runs while Rodriguez faced 15 batters, allowing six hits and one run.
Olympian (3-10 overall) rolled across four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to erase a 6-3 deficit.
Southwest (2A Division) also went 1-2. The Raiders (5-9 overall) topped El Cajon Valley (15-1 on Wednesday) after coming up short in contests against L.A.’s Brentwood School (9-2 on Monday) and Imperial (8-5 on Tuesday).
Carlos Acevedo drove in four runs in the win over ECV while Alejandro Ruiz had three RBI in the game. Salvador Meza struck out nine batters and allowed one run in four innings.
San Ysidro, last year’s South Bay League champion, finished 0-3 in Premier Division in round-robin play with losses to Coronado (2-1 on Monday), 3-2 to Temecula Chaparral (3-2 on Tuesday) and La Jolla Country Day (9-1 on Wednesday).
The Cougars are off to a 1-10 start in 2012.
Castle Park (6-5 overall) opened tourney play with 2A Division losses to Palo Verde Valley (15-5 on Monday) and North Hollywood (6-5 on Tuesday).
Sweetwater (2-12 overall) finished 0-3 with 4A Division setbacks to Christian (11-2 on Monday), Capistrano Valley Christian (6-5 on Tuesday) and Bishop’s (6-3 on Wednesday).
Mar Vista (5A Division) also finished 0-3. The Mariners (3-9 overall) dropped contests to Calexico (12-5 on Monday), Visalia El Diamante (13-1 on Tuesday) and West Hills (12-5 on Wednesday).
High Tech High Chula Vista (2A Division) went 0-3 with losses to Linfield Christian (5-4 on Monday), Malibu (16-1 on Tuesday) and Cathedral City (13-3 on Wednesday). The Bruins hold an 8-5 overall record.
Mater Dei (4A Division) closed out round-robin play with a 12-6 loss to Westview on Wednesday.
South Bay League Standings
Castle Park 2-0
Chula Vista 1-1
Mar Vista 1-1
San Ysidro 0-0
Tuesday, March 27
Castle Park 15, Southwest 14
Montgomery 6, Sweetwater 0
Chula Vista 2, Mar Vista 1
Thursday, March 29
Castle Park 4, Southwest 1
Montgomery 2, Sweetwater 0
Mar Vista 3, Chula Vista 2
Metro Conference Tournament
Mesa League Teams
Otay Ranch 3-0
Bonita Vista 3-0
South Bay League Teams
Chula Vista 3-0
Mar Vista 1-1
Castle Park 1-1
San Ysidro 0-3