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Barons, Titans tip-toeing in quest for Mesa League baseball banner Phillip Brents | Wed, May 16 2012 02:23 PM

The championship fortunes of both the Bonita Vista Barons and Eastlake Titans have taken tumultuous turns through the season, with the teams tied for the Mesa League lead, Eastlake going up by a game on two occasions and the teams tied once again after the defending league co-champions split their highly anticipated two-game series match-up last week.

Bonita Vista Barons got back into the race for the league banner by handing loop leader Eastlake a 5-3 loss on May 10 to even up the teams’ league records at 6-2 apiece.

The win was a crucial one for the Barons, who entered the game trailing the Titans by a game in the league standings following a 1-0 setback to host Eastlake two days earlier.

The Metro Conference’s quirky two-game series match-ups once again proved unpredictable.

Bonita Vista’s Troy Cruz weathered an early deficit by hurling a complete game victory. He scattered six hits while striking out seven Titans.

The Barons (17-9) rolled across four runs in the bottom of the third inning to erase a 3-0 Eastlake lead.

BV coach Vincent Gervais’ troops did it by committee, with five players each scoring one run and five players driving in one run apiece.

Miguel Solano-Espinosa slammed a triple, drove in one run and scored one run.

Esteban Velasco, Alex Quiros, Eric Mendoza and Alex Haas also drove in runs while Cruz, Eduardo Perez, Carlos Herrera and Ryan Miguel each scored once.

Solano-Espinosa finished two-for-three at the plate. He led the team with a .455 hitting average entering Tuesday’s game against Hilltop (3-5 in league, 12-13 overall) and was tied with Haas for a team-leading 13 RBI.

Cruz improved to 7-1 with his fifth complete game. He entered Tuesday’s game against the Lancers hitting .365 with nine RBI and 24 runs scored.

Eastlake saw its overall record dip to 16-8-2. The Titans close out the season with a two-game series against Olympian (3-5, 8-17).

The Barons, who were limited to just four hits in the game, scored an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Despite the importance of last Thursday’s victory, Gervais said all it accomplished was to move “ourselves back into contention.”

“We have to beat Hilltop twice this week and that will be tough,” the BVHS coach said. “Hilltop is always tough at the end of the season and they are playing for their playoff life this week. Hilltop must win these games to make themselves viable as a play-off team.

“We are likely locked in to a No. 6 or No. 7 seed but could move ourselves into a No. 3 or No. 4 seed with a sweep this week and if a few other teams ahead of us lose.”

The Barons — and Titans — will have to re-think things after both dropped games on Tuesday. Hilltop dealt Bonita Vista a severe blow by recording an 8-2 victory; Olympian upset Eastlake 5-4.

The 2012 Mesa League championship — and playoff positioning — will thus be decided by the outcome of games on Thursday.

Hilltop hosts Bonita Vista at 3 p.m. while Eastlake hosts Olympian at 4 p.m.

The final conflict
Gervais called Eastlake a “formidable opponent.”

“The coaching staff at Eastlake works hard to keep Eastlake new and relevant,” Gervais said.
The BVHS coach also issued kudos to his team. “But I am very proud of Bonita Vista’s achievements because we have matched Eastlake and actually bettered them over the past three seasons and may share a championship with them this year or fall just one game short even though we practice and play in a decaying facility,” Gervais said.

It is the latter end of Gervais’ comment that strikes a particular chord. He remains critical of the school’s degrading outdoor athletic facilities — with justification.

“The district has allowed BVH to look its age,” he said. “All the other schools built in the 1950s and 1960s have been renewed and revitalized except Bonita Vista. There is an impression that Bonita is still the old Bonita of the 1970s and 1980s but that is not true. That money and influence has moved on to Otay Ranch and Eastlake and out toward Olympian. All of these newer schools are state-of-the art facilities that we must compete with. Add to the mix Mater Dei and you have a huge discrepancy between the “haves” and “have nots” — and make no mistake, Bonita Vista is a “have not” when it comes to facilities.

“The fact that Bonita can compete with these schools athletically amazes me and in some cases, like football, we don’t compete well against these schools because our school goes dark when the sun goes down. Except for the indoor sports, Bonita Vista does not have any fields that have lights. So when the sun goes down, sports practice and field use stops. While other schools can practice later and more sports can work during the extended hours getting more quality time to improve their skills, Bonita sports goes dark.

“So baseball is one of those sports that players and families look at facilities when choosing a school to attend and we have been able to sustain a good program regardless of the lesser facilities, and for that I am proud of the job our players and coaching staff have done.
Gervais praised the talent assembled both on the field and in the dugout.

“Our pitching staff has carried us all year,” the BVHS coach said. “I am fortunate to have Bonita Vista alum Sean Warlop on site working with our pitchers. We are fortunate to be extremely deep in our program with viable arms. Unfortunately, our non-starters have not received a lot of innings this year because our four starters have done well all year. Led by senior Troy Cruz, the other three starters — junior Matt Ball, sophomore Danny Siwek and senior Alex Quiros — have logged about 85 percent of our innings. 

“There is not a single team in our league that is as deep as we are. From what I can tell these four would be starters on any Mesa League team. Our support group -- seniors Ryan Miguel and Alex Haas, juniors Ivan Burow and Jesus Perez -- are also good enough to play for all the other teams and start for them. I am serious about how deep this group is.

“We have given up the least amount of runs in the county as a staff this year by a large margin. If we can muster some offense these final games, we can be a contender in the playoffs, too. Our problem has been scoring runs. The object is to score more runs than the opponent and I like our chances because our staff has been consistent at keeping the other team from scoring.”
The Barons 1-0 loss to Eastlake on May 8 fully illustrated that as Eastlake’s Dylan McDonald and Bonita Vista’s Danny Siwek were locked in a pitchers dual.

“I like what we saw even though we lost the game as Danny is a sophomore and he matched the (Mesa League) Pitcher of the Year in 2011 pitch-for-pitch for six innings.” Gervais said.

Giant killers
Hilltop out-hit Bonita Vista 11-5 on Tuesday, scoring six runs in the top of the fifth inning to expand on a 2-0 lead.

Ian Moses rapped out four hits, including a home run, and drove in two runners while Liam Beyerle smacked three hits, including a double, and also drove in a pair of runners. Moses and Justin Sparby each scored twice in the game.

Erick Tec threw a complete game to pick up the victory.

Estevan Velasco led the Barons with a double and two RBI.

Olympian’s Stephen Rangel had a double and drove in two runs to key Tuesday’s victory against Eastlake. Marco Gonzalez scored two runs and homered for one RBI.

Austin Perez went five innings to pick up the win. Tommy Braund pitched two innings to earn a save.

The Eagles trailed the entire game before pushing across two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 5-3 lead.

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