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Bonita Vista Barons prove on the Ball with 4-0 Mesa League start Phillip Brents | Fri, May 03 2013 02:16 PM

Senior right-hander Matthew Ball has played a big part in the Bonita Vista Barons’ 4-0 start in Mesa League play this season. Ball improved his seasonal record to 5-2 with a 0.81 earned-run average after striking out 11 batters in the Barons’ 9-0 victory against the visiting Olympian Eagles last Friday.

The win was the ninth consecutive for Bonita Vista, which improved to 15-8 overall.

“We’re a younger team than last year, but the juniors and young guys have backed up the team and we’ve gotten better just before league,” Ball said.

The Baron righty has racked up 84 strikeouts in 52 innings so far this season to make him one of the Metro Conference’s top power pitchers. He’s come a long way from his varsity debut as a sophomore.

“I’ve gone from being a junk pitcher to being a power pitcher,” he said.

Part of Ball’s emergence as a potential pick in Major League Baseball’s annual June amateur draft has been his physical maturity. Ball has gone from being a 6-2, 155-pound sophomore to a 6-5, 195-pound senior.

The mental maturity has come as well.

“He’s going to help someone at the next level, whether it’s at Long Beach State or in the pro system,” BVHS coach Vincent Gervais said. “He’s had a plan the last two years to get to that next level. He’s committed.”

Ball was a member of Team California last summer and played on the Orioles scout team last fall.

“You have to make your best pitch, stay focused on each pitch and make all the pitches count,” Ball said in assessing what it takes to be successful at the next level. “You’ve got to come up in the clutch, say with runners at second and third with one out. I’ve been able to handle it so far.”

Gervais’ ball club has certainly handled itself well this spring. The Barons opened league play with an impressive two-game sweep of the defending Mesa champion Eastlake Titans. Ball struck out 15 batters and allowed just three hits in a 5-1 win on April 19.

In last Friday’s game, Gervais noted that six different players drove in runs and six different players scored runs. Ball helped his own cause by driving in two runners.

“For our team to be successful, everyone has to contribute,” the BVHS coach said. 

The Barons sent 10 men to the plate in the opening frame, scoring six times.  Tent Lara, Eduardo Perez, Brandon Torio and Adrian Ventura each collected one RBI in the game while Ivan Amaya matched Ball with two RBI.

Ball, who has been clocked with a 92 mph fastball, pitched the first six innings, with Andrew Lopez hurling a scoreless seventh inning to close out the win.

Bonita Vista closes out regular season play with two-game series against Mater Dei Catholic, Hilltop and Otay Ranch. The Barons' last two opponents will likely determine the outcome of this year's league banner chase: Hilltop won this year's San Diego Lions tournament 5A Division championship while Otay Ranch captured the Bully's East tourney title.

The division playoffs are next, and that's where it could get interesting with the section's new playoff format to debut this spring based on competition level rather than enrollment level.

Bonita Vista is in Division I along with fellow South County opponents Montgomery (18-6) and Otay Ranch (18-7). Division leaders include Carlsbad (20-4), Grossmont (19-6), St. Augustine (18-6),Cathedral Catholic (17-7), Patrick Henry (17-8) and Ramona (15-8).

Cathedral Catholic entered midseason ranked No. 1in the nation.

"With the new playoff format we have a better chance to go deeper," Ball said.

If the Barons do, figure that Ball will have something to do with it.

Hot dogs
The Metro Conference tournament has been renamed the John Baumgartner Classic and Baumgarten's former Hilltop Lancers met the South Bay League leading Montgomery Aztecs in last Saturday's tournament championship game at Eastlake High School. The Aztecs won this year's tourney trophy — shaped like the big hot dog served at Hilltop sporting events, "Baum dogs" — on the strength of a 3-0 shutout victory.

Montgomery scored twice in the bottom of the third inning and added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Martin Rendon had two hits, including a double, and drove in two runs while teammate Mario Perez had one RBI.

Sophomore Herman Alvarado earned the win on the hill with a complete game effort, striking out seven batters while allowing just three hits.

The tournament pits teams from the Metro's South Bay League and Mesa League. Hilltop, Bonita Vista, Eastlake and Otay Ranch all tied with 4-1 records against South Bay League opponents but the Lancers earned the tie-breaker nod on least runs allowed.

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