Last year’s Mesa League baseball championship came down to the last regular season series between Bonita Vista and Hilltop. It proved to be a nail-biting confrontation that went to the Barons.
But the start to the 2011 season for Bonita Vista has hardly been glamorous. The Barons started the spring campaign 0-6 (0-5 in the Hilltop-Lolita’s tournament) before picking up their first win of the season March 23 against San Ysidro as part of the month-long Metro Conference tournament.
Since then, four more wins have followed, including victories against Olympian and Sweetwater as part of the Metro tourney and a two-game sweep against Longmont, Colo., to bring the Barons’ record to 5-6.
“It’s going to be a very competitive league from top to bottom this season,” sixth-year BVHS coach Victor Gervais said. “Every team has a solid set, whether it’s pitching, overall balance or experience.”
Gervais gives Eastlake the nod in the pitching department, Otay Ranch the nod in overall strength and his team in experience.
Bonita Vista returns seven key players off last year’s league championship team. They include pitcher-first baseman Anthony Olivieri, catcher Brian Lockey, third baseman Raymon Campillo, shortstop-center fielder Alexis Ayala, pitcher-right fielder Justin DiStefano, all seniors, and shortstop Troy Cruz and catcher-pitcher Alex Quiros, both juniors.
Among the impact newcomers is junior second baseman Miguel Solano, a member of the U.S. Western National 16-under team.
Gervais said team chemistry is the top thing going for his squad this season.
“It’s a fun group to be around,” the BVHS skipper said. “It would have been nice to play better in the first tournament but we played against some of the best teams in the county.”
In the Hilltop-Lolita’s tourney, the Barons succumbed to Rancho Bernardo (9-1 and 12-3), Granite Hills (17-0), St. Augustine (11-10) and Cathedral Catholic (9-3).
Rancho Bernardo was ranked second to El Capitan to start the season while Cathedral Catholic was ranked fourth.
Bonita Vista’s wins have come against San Ysidro (6-5), Olympian (8-2) and Sweetwater (7-6). The Barons topped the Colorado visitors by scores of 5-4 and 9-1.
Early season hitting leaders included Lockey (.500), Ayala (.361), Olivieri (.344), Cruz (.333), Campillo (.324), DiStefano (.303), senior Mitch Lara (.286) and Solano (.273). RBI leaders included Ayala (11), Campillo (eight), Lockey (eight) and Olivieri (six).
Bonita Vista opens Mesa League play with a two-game series against Chula Vista April 13 (at CVHS) and April 15 (at BVHS).
El Capitan, Parker capture South Bay tourneys
Hilltop coach Kurt Gritts wasn’t fooling when he unveiled the line-up for this year’s Hilltop-Lolita’s tournament, played March 8-19 at the west side Chula Vista school. “We have some of the top teams in San Diego coming here,” he said.
Try top-ranked El Capitan, second-ranked Rancho Bernardo, fourth-ranked Cathedral Catholic and ninth-ranked Poway.
El Capitan out-dueled Granite Hills, 3-1, to capture the championship in an all-East County final.
Francis Parker, meanwhile, defeated Mission Hills, 9-5, to capture the championship title of this year’s Andy Sanchez-Bully’s East tournament in a game played March 19 at Otay Ranch High School. The tournament is named in the honor of the late Sanchez, a youth sports star in Chula Vista and a baseball/football coach at Sweetwater High School.