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Metro teams roar in 61st Lions baseball tourney Phillip Brents | Sat, Apr 23 2011 12:28 AM

The 61st Lions Baseball Tournament is occupying spring break this year, and several South County hardball teams appear ready to make it their showcase.

Four Metro Conference teams advanced to division semifinals in last year’s tournament. Bonita Vista and Eastlake tied for third place in the 6A Division while Montgomery finished in a tie for third place in the top rung Classic Division and Olympian finished in a tie for third place in the 3A Division.

This year’s tourney featured 118 teams (12 from South County) in eight competition tiers: Classic Division (Montgomery and Otay Ranch), Premier Division (Bonita Vista and San Ysidro), 6A Division, 5A Division (Chula Vista and Mar Vista), 4A Division (Hilltop), 3A Division (Sweetwater), 2A Division (Castle Park, Olympian and Southwest) and 1A Division (Chula Vista High Tech).

The Lions tournament is the oldest and largest prep baseball tournament in the nation.

Like a lion
Of the 12 South County entrants in this year’s tournament, 11 were from the Metro Conference. Of those 11 teams, five won their opening games: Castle Park, Hilltop, Olympian, San Ysidro and Sweetwater.

After Tuesday’s second round of play, three area squads remained undefeated: Olympian, San Ysidro and Sweetwater.

San Ysidro got out of the gate strong as Javier Verdugo and Eduardo Rubalcava each delivered run-scoring hits, David Vega and Mike Rios each scored runs and Jose Hildalgo tossed a complete game six-hitter in a 2-1 victory over 2009 and 2010 San Diego Section Division IV runner-up Madison. Hidalgo had six strikeouts.

The Cougars improved to 2-0 in tourney play (8-8-1 on the season) following Tuesday’s 13-4 spanking of Granada Hills Kennedy. San Ysidro rolled across 10 runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to erase an early 4-0 deficit. Included in the eight-hit barrage in that frame was a three-run home run by Jose Garcia, who also recorded another RBI hit in the same inning.

Garcia finished Tuesday’s game with four runs scored and four RBI while Rios scored three times and drove in two runs in support of hurler Diego Piceno, who scattered 11 hits to pick up his second win of the season.

The Cougars needed a win over Pacific Palisades in Wednesday’s round-robin finale to advance to the division playoffs, but fell short 10-4.

Sweetwater opened tourney play with a pair of commanding victories: 7-2 over Yreka and 12-5 over Capistrano Valley Christian.

In Monday’s opener, Arturo Arechiga drove in two RBI with two hits for the Red Devils while Kenny Stein and Ruben Magallanes each scored twice. Adrian Libsack earned the win on the strength of four-and-two-thirds innings of work while striking out four batters and allowing five hits.

In Tuesday’s contest, Magallanes drove in three runs on two hits, including a home run, and scored three runs while Serrano-Sanchez scored four times and David Sanchez knocked in a pair of runs. The Devils, who improved to 7-11 overall, used four pitchers, each working no more than two innings.

Like San Ysidro, Sweetwater needed a win in its final round-robin game to advance to the playoffs but was stymied in a 3-0 loss to  Canyon Crest Academy.

Olympian defeated San Diego High Tech, 5-3, in eight innings in Monday’s opener and came back to roar past Kodiak (Alaska.), 10-1, in Tuesday’s second round. However, the Eagles (11-9) were unable to get past likewise unbeaten Del Norte  in Wednesday’s round-robin finale, losing 15-2 in a battle for a semifinal berth.

Johnathan White,  Zac Norton, Steven Exum and Greg Chilson each drove in runs in Monday’s game, with White and Chilson each stroking triples.

In other openers on Monday, Hilltop shut out San Diego, 3-0, while Castle Park routed De Sales (Geneva, N.Y.) by a score of 13-4.

Erick Tec and Ian Moses combined to strike out 11 Cavers, with Tec recording eight strikeouts and Moses fanning all three batters he faced. Greg Allen cracked a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Tec drove in three runs in Tuesday’s 6-5 setback to Sacramento’s Rio Americano.

The Lancers (8-8 overall) were set to close out tourney play Wednesday against Faith Lutheran.

“For us, we’re trying to get ready for the rest of the season,” Hilltop coach Kurt Gritts said. “We want to get ready for the playoffs, get the type of schedule where you play so many games in so many days.”

The Lancers started the season 0-5 but had since gone 8-3, including a 5-0 showing thus far in the Metro Conference tournament. Hilltop is 0-1 in Mesa League play following a 9-5 loss in nine inning to visiting Otay Ranch on April 15.

The Lancers and Mustangs rematch April 30 at 10 a.m. at Petco Park as part of the annual CIF promotion with the Padres.

“It’s going to be a tough league,” Gritts said. “We lost to Otay Ranch in extra innings. It’s going to be a dogfight. I don’t think anyone is gong to go undefeated in the Mesa League.”

Anthony Wiggins Jr. pitched two innings for Castle Park, striking out five of the seven batters he faced.

The Trojans, however, could not keep their momentum going, suffering a 6-0 setback to visiting Mountain Empire on Tuesday.

Castle Park (7-12 on the season) did close out the tourney strong, however, with a 12-2 win against El Cajon Valley on Wednesday.  Wiggins doubled twice and drove in two runs.

Who’s on top?

Eastlake, highly regarded in the section rankings, is not participating in this year’s Lions tournament, opting instead for Las Vegas’ 2011 Blazer Sportco Spring Bash. The Titans (16-5 overall) won four of their five games, taking 21-1 and 14-4victories against Virgin Valley  (Mesquite, Nev.) and Bonanza (Las Vegas), respectively, following a 7-6 loss to Las Vegas Durango before going on to close out tourney play with wins against Las Vegas Spring Valley (5-1 in an elimination game) and Las Vegas Centennial (13-7 in the championship game).

Eastlake faced off Mesa League play with a 3-1 loss to Mater Dei Catholic on April 13 but evened its record with a 4-3 decision over the Crusaders two days later.

61st Lions Tournament

(Round-robin play)
April 18-20

Classic Division
Monday, April 18
Cathedral Catholic 6, Montgomery 0
Edison 7, Otay Ranch 2
Tuesday, April 19
Temecula Valley 3, Montgomery 2
Green Valley 5, Otay Ranch 2 (9 innings)
Wednesday, April 20
Rancho Bernardo 4, Montgomery 3
Poway 7, Otay Ranch 0

Premier Division
Monday, April 18

San Ysidro 2, Madison 1
Point Loma 14, Bonita Vista 7
Tuesday, April 19
Paramount 4, Bonita Vista 3
San Ysidro 13, Kennedy (Granada Hills) 4
Wednesday, April 20
Pacific Palisades 10, San Ysidro 4
Bonita Vista 3, Valhalla 0

5A Division
Monday, April 18

Monte Vista 5, Chula Vista 0
Fallbrook 15, Mar Vista 1
Tuesday, April 19
East (Salt Lake City) 3, Chula Vista 1
Mar Vista 3, St. Paul 1
Wednesday, April 20
Granada Hills 9, Chula Vista 6 (8        innings)
El Camino 19, Mar Vista 6

4A Division
Monday, April 18

Hilltop 3, San Diego 0
Tuesday, April 19
Sacramento Rio Americano 6, Hilltop 5
Wednesday, April 20
Hilltop 16, Faith Lutheran 1

3A Division
Monday, April 18

Sweetwater 7, Yreka 2
Tuesday, April 19
Sweetwater 12, Capistrano Christian 5
Wednesday, April 20
Canyon Crest 3, Sweetwater 0

2A Division
Monday, April 18

Castle Park 13, De Sales (N.Y.) 2
Olympian 5, High Tech San Diego 3 (8 innings)
The Rock Academy 12, Southwest 4
Tuesday, April 19
Olympian 10, Kodiak (Alaska) 1
Mountain Empire 6, Castle Park 0
Southwest 5, Imperial 3
Wednesday, April 20
Castle Park 12, El Cajon Valley 2
Kearny 2, Southwest 1
Del Norte 15, Olympian 2

1A Division
Monday, April 18

Orange Glen 7, High Tech Chula Vista 5
Tuesday, April 19
Escondido Charter 9, High Tech Chula Vista 3
Wednesday, April 20
High Tech Chula Vista 5, Guajome Park Academy1

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