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Titans squeeze out 2-0 win over Lancers in CIF Division II baseball play-in game Phillip Brents | Tue, May 27 2014 07:40 PM

Pitching, defense and timely hitting appear to be the ingredients to winning championships. In Tuesday’s San Diego Section Division II play-in game between the host Hilltop Lancers and the Eastlake Titans, the emphasis was obviously on all three aspects.

The fifth-seeded Titans got just enough of the latter — timely hitting — to squeeze out a 2-0 victory and advance to Wednesday’s opening round game at fourth-seeded La Jolla.

Meanwhile, the 12th-seeded Lancers, fresh of winning the inaugural Metro-Pacific League championship, saw their season abruptly end.

Eastlake, braced by pitching and defense, nursed a 1-0 lead until adding an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning.

Michael Martinez slammed a 375-foot home run in the second inning and freshman Casey Schmitt drove a sharply hit ball off the first baseman’s glove to allow teammate Izzack Morales, pinch-running for Luke Ramirez, to score from second base.

“A win is a win,” a much relieved EHS coach Dave Gallegos said after the game. “To our advantage, Martinez hit a home run to get us going and Casey was there in the clutch one more time — he’s been one of our hottest hitters all season.”

The single-elimination contest pitted teams from the Metro-Pacific League (Hilltop) and the Metro-Mesa League (Eastlake). The Lancers entered the game riding some genuine momentum after winning their final four games to sew up sole rights to the Metro-Pacific banner while the Titans had stumbled out of the Metro-Mesa pennant race with losses in three of their final five regular season contests and two of their last three.

Julian Escobedo started on the mound for the Titans and yielded just four hits while Hilltop starter Mario Murillo gave up just five hits in the game.

Escobedo finished the game with four strikeouts to up his record to 8-1 on the season.

But he had to pitch out of several jams throughout the game.

The Lancers had two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the fourth inning following a bloop double by Seamus Beyerle but stranded them there on a comebacker to the mound.

Hilltop placed runners on the opening two bases in the next frame but an inning-ending double play killed the rally.

“We had opportunities,” HHS coach Kurt Gritts said tersely. “We just couldn’t get that clutch hit.”

With goose eggs on the scoreboard since Martinez’s mammoth shot over the fence, the Titans (22-7) made it a bit easier on Escobedo in the final frame by pushing across an insurance run.

Gallegos said the lack of timely hitting had been the team’s biggest bugaboo the second half of the season. “Our pitching has carried us all season,” he said.

Gritts described a similar scenario for his team, which closed out an 11-19 campaign after finishing 4-2 in league play.

“We didn’t hit very well, and that kind of surprised me, but our pitching carried us all year,” the Lancer skipper noted.

As nice as it was for the Titans to celebrate Tuesday’s victory, it was also time to immediately put their game faces back on. Wednesday’s game at La Jolla starts at 3:30 p.m.

El Camino (18-11) received the No. 1 seed in the division, followed by reignining Metro-Mesa League champion Bonita Vista (19-9) and third-seeded Santa Fe Christian (20-5).

Winners of Wednesday’s games advance to second-round championship play on Friday.



Division I
Tuesday, May 27
Play-in Round

(9) Helix (16-15) at (8) Montgomery (16-8-2), 3:30 p.m. Helix wins 1-0, advances to double-elimination bracket play

Wednesday, May 28
First Round/Bracket Play

(5) Valhalla at (4) Otay Ranch, 3:30 p.m. Valhalla wins 5-3, Otay Ranch drops to elimination bracket

Division II
Tuesday, May 27
Play-in Round

(9) West Hills (12-17) at (8) San Ysidro (17-12), 3:30 p.m. West Hills wins 10-2, San Ysidro eliminated

(5) Eastake 2, (12) Hilltop 0. Eastlake advances to first-round bracket play, Hilltop eliminated

Wednesday, May 28
First Round/Bracket Play

(7) San Marcos at (2) Bonita Vista, 3:30 p.m. Bonita Vista wins 6-0, advances to host No. 3-seeded Santa Fe Christian on Thursday in a second-round contest

(5) Eastlake at (4) La Jolla, 3:30 p.m. La Jolla wins 5-3, Eastlake drops to elimination bracket

Division IV
Tuesday, May 27
Play-in Round

(9) Souhwest (10-17) at (8) Bishop's (12-14), 3:30 p.m. Southwest wins 5-1, advances to double-elimination bracket play

(7) Sweetwater (10-17) at (10) High Tech High San Diego (16-7), 3:30 p.m. HTH-SD wins 2-1, advances to double-elimination bracket play

Wednesday, May 28
First Round/Bracket Play
(9) Southwest 1, (1) Central Union 0. Southwest advances to second-round bracket play

(4) Mar Vista 6, (5) Imperial 2. Mar Vista advances to second-round bracket play

(2) Olympian 10, (10 High Tech San Diego 0. Olympian advances to second-round bracket play



Open Division
Third Round/Elimination Game
Tuesday, May 27

(3) Bonita Vista 6, (4) Rancho Bernardo 2. Bonita Vista advances in double-elimination bracket play, fourth round

Division I
Third Round/Elimination Game
Tuesday, May 27

(1) Eastlake 3, (3) Patrick Henry 2. Eastlake advances in double-elimination bracket play, next game May 29


Division III
Tuesday, May 27
Third Round/Elimination Game

(7) San Dieguito Academy 9, (1) Hilltop 8. Hilltop eliminated

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