Grossmont High School 2012

Varsity Baseball Highlights 2012


© East County

EL CAJON (3-3-12) – Lead off hitter and shortstop NICO MAIDA isn’t the biggest player on the sandlot. But the 5-foot-8 Grossmont junior went 2-for-3 with a 2-run homer as the Foothillers pounded out 15 hits and scored in 5 of their 6 at-bats.

Hammerin’ Hiller

Despite being listed at a generous 5-foot-8,
Grossmont High leadoff batter Nico Maida packs
some power, including this home run Saturday.
(Photo by Tim Soto)

Because of injury last season, Maida had limited at-bats a year ago. Batting .667 out of the gate in Saturday’s (Mar. 3) Foothiller-Aztec Tournament opener he doesn’t figure to give way to a designated hitter this season.

ALEX CONNOR hammered out 4 singles in 5 at-bats, driving in one run and scoring two more for the Foothillers.
DEREK RUSTICH, fresh off the basketball court, ripped a pair of doubles and a sacrifice fly to drive in two runs for Grossmont.

NOAH BUCHANAN, in his first varsity start, smacked a triple and two singles, stole a base and scored 3 runs for Grossmont.

Four Grossmont pitchers shared in spinning a 5-hitter at Coronado.

“We played well,” said Foothillers coach JIM EARLEY. “It was nice to finally play a game that counts. There were quite a few kids who had good games. We got everybody in the game.”

Devoted Foothillers keep winning

© East County

EL CAJON (3-8-12) — An overhaul of the Grossmont High varsity hasn’t seemed to stop the Foothillers even though they have an influx of new players.

So far it’s been two games; two wins.

Pin-pointing the latest leaders is still up in the air.

Probably the most flashy performance was ALEX CONNOR’s game-saving save when he used 11 pitches to strike out the side in Wednesday’s (Mar. 7) Foothiller-Aztec Classic 8-7 win over visiting Coronado.

“He came in and shut the door, 1-2-3,” said Grossmont coach JIM EARLEY. “As a staff that hasn’t happened much for us in the first two games.”

After falling behind 5-0, Grossmont fought back with three runs in the 4th to tie the game 5-all. TYLER GARDETTO, TRENT GALKOWSKI and NICO MAIDA each drove in a run in the 4th.

Coronado counterpunched with two runs in the 5th, but then gave the game away with three walks and a hit batter as Grossmont produced three runs without a hit in the bottom of the 6th.


© East County

EL CAJON (3-9-12) — The Foothillers jumped on top in Friday’s (Mar. 9) game in San Ysidro by scoring three runs in the opening frame without benefit of a hit in the Foothiller-Aztec Classic.

San Ysidro issued four walks and hit two batters to help propel Grossmont to the early lead.

Grossmont (3-0) made it 6-0 in the 2nd inning on a double by NICO MAIDA, a sacrifice fly by DEREK RUSTICH and a triple by NICK ROCHESTER.

The Hillers one-time 7-0 lead nearly evaporated as San Ysidro scored six times in the bottom of the 3rd. But Grossmont kept pecking away.

Rochester, who hit a solo homer in the 4th inning, also hit a sacrifice fly in the key 5th inning, as ERIC ECKLEY doubled in a run and HUNTER STRATTON singled in another.

The Cougars gave the Foothillers another run on a wild pitch.

Eckley, who most likely will be Grossmont’s ace pitcher, pitched three hitless innings and struck out six during the win.

“Eckley looked good, threw quickly, threw strikes,” Hillers coach JIM EARLEY said. “And that was good to see.”

Look Who’s Trending Following a Quarter-Century, Matadors end massive 60-game losing streak to Grossmont

By Bill Dickens
© East County

SPRING VALLEY (3-21-12) — Upsets in baseball, as a rule, are not all that rare.

But the Matadors of first-year head coach JASON BABINEAU blew the dust off the Mount Miguel record book Wednesday (Mar. 21) as they stunned visiting Grossmont 12-11 in the opening round of the 2nd Annual Bill Dickens Grossmont Conference Tournament. “Our kids believe that we can win big games,” Babineau said. “They aren’t intimidated at all.”

Nico Maida, the Grossmont shortstop,
eats some dirt yet takes third base.
(Frank Price photo,

This was Mount Miguel’s first victory over the Foothillers in 25 years. Last time the Matadors prevailed was 6-4 in 1987. Since then Grossmont rolled to 60 consecutive victories before falling short on Wednesday. “I doubt if our kids realize this is kind of a historic win for Mount Miguel baseball,” Babineau said. “We’re on a roll and we have to keep it going.”

Despite a 7-run 2nd inning, the Matadors (5-1) had to come from behind three times to subdue the Foothillers (4-2).

Trailing 11-10 entering the 6th inning, the Matadors caught a break when JUWUN McCRAY reached base on an error. He swiftly stole second base and scored the tying marker on a base hit by DUSTIN BURKE.

With two outs in the 6th, the Matadors sensed victory after JOHNNY WRIGHT’s game-winning single. Grossmont challenged in the 7th, but left the tying and winning runs on base against BRAD MORENO, who pitched 1 1/3 innings to earn his second win in three decisions.

More of the Hillers’ Nico Maida, making
the long, sidearm throw to first base.

Burke and FRANCO LUNA contributed three hits apiece to Mount Miguel’s 11-hit attack.

NICO MAIDA was 2-for-2 with three RBI in the Grossmont leadoff spot. JEFF BOWERS was 3-for-4 with three runs and an RBI triple for the Foothillers. NICK ROCHESTER ripped a pair of doubles and drove in a pair of runs, while HUNTER STRATTON was 2-for-4 with two RBI.

“Don’t take anything away from Mount Miguel, but we had a recipe for disaster,” Grossmont coach JIM EARLEY said. “We had too many walks, too many errors, too many stupid plays and too many selfish at-bats.”


© East County

EL CAJON (3-22-12) – Rebounding from a stunning loss to Mount Miguel, the Grossmont Foothillers buried visiting Monte Vista in Thursday’s (Mar. 22) 2nd round of the Bill Dickens Grossmont Conference Tournament.

The Foothillers (5-2) hammered out 13 hits.

NICO MAIDA capped a 4-run 2nd inning with a 2-run homer – his second of the season – and finished 3-for-4 in the leadoff spot.

Grossmont broke the game open with five runs in the 5th inning. ALEX CONNOR banged an RBI double and ERIC ECKLEY drove in two more with a double to turn the game into a rout.

ALEX CONNOR allowed only 2 hits and one run while striking out 6 to post his second win in as many decisions. TYLER STOOP and DANNY ROLF each pitched a scoreless inning to secure the victory.

NICK ROCHESTER was 2-for-3 with two doubles and 3 RBI for the Foothillers.

Monte Vista’s only hits were delivered by JOHN BALAJADIA and ANDREW POIRIER.


Pitching, defense spark Torrey Pines in Lions Tournament

EL CAJON — The best shot host Grossmont High had at knocking out Torrey Pines pitching ace Luc Rennie came in the sixth inning of Monday’s opening round of the Lions Tournament Classic Division.

Foothillers shortstop Nico Maida slashed a line drive right at Rennie.

“The ball got there so fast I didn’t have time to react,” Rennie said. “Luckily it hit me on the bottom of my shoe. I didn’t feel a thing.”

The only damage was an infield single for Maida as the ball ricocheted toward third base.

Grossmont rolled up seven hits — including two doubles by Derek Rustich — but the Foothillers could not deny Rennie a complete-game 3-1 baseball win for Torrey Pines. It was the fourth victory for the 6-foot-2, 200-pound right-hander, who walked none and struck out eight.

Rennie, who owns as 0.72 ERA, topped out at 90 mph but felt his curveball was his best pitch.

“They put a charge in a couple balls early, so I had to pitch backward,” Rennie said. “My breaking ball was really clicking.”

Rennie has surrendered just three earned runs in 29 innings.

“Luc is a very gutty, emotionally charged kid,” Torrey Pines coach Matt Chess said. “Sometimes you have to tell him to take a walk and reboot.”

The only loss for the No. 2-ranked Falcons (10-1-1) is 4-1 to San Pasqual. They tied La Costa Canyon 7-7.

Rennie was supported by the Falcons’ flawless defense at windy Joe Gizoni Field.

“I know my guys can make all the plays,” he said. “This was a typical game for us. Pitching and defense … that’s our game.”

Chess agreed. “We pride ourselves in our defense,” he said. “We work hard on it in practice every day.”

Falcons right fielder Kyle Johnson, who collected two hits, two runs and one RBI, said the gusty breeze was a challenge.

“I shaded a little to the right,” Johnson said. “Once in a while it looked like they might get over your head, but most of the time you had to expect the ball to come back to you. It’s a matter of positioning yourself.”

Trailing only El Capitan in this week’s San Diego Section rankings, the Falcons were asked if they thought they belonged in the top spot.

“Wherever they want to put us is OK for the time being,” Johnson said. “We are not concerned with stuff like that, just the next game.”

Torrey Pines met Grossmont three times last season. This year, the Foothillers (8-4) entered the game with a No. 8 ranking.

“Every game went extra innings,” Chess recalled. “These are battles when we play. They are a head-to-toe team that wants to come after you. We are more of a finesse team.”


In a battle of Top 10 teams, the No. 2 ranked Falcons (10-1-1) rode the powerful pitching of Luc Rennie to Monday’s (Apr. 2) Classic Division opener of the 62nd Annual Lions Tournament at Joe Gizoni Field.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound right-hander scattered 7 hits, walked none and struck out 7 as he ran his record to 4-0.

Grossmont’s ALEX CONNOR also coined a complete game for the Foothillers (8-4), allowing only 6 hits and 2 earned runs while striking out 6.

Grossmont scored its only run in the 4th inning as DEREK RUSTICH ripped his second double in as many at-bats. BRETT STONE singled sharply to left, sending Rustich to third. ERIC ECKLEY then hit a roller to third base, allowing Rustich to score, which at the time cut Torrey Pines’ lead to 2-1.

Grossmont made its final threat in the 6th inning as NICO MAIDA reached base on an infield single and Connor singled to center. That’s as far as the Foothillers would get as Rennie retired the next three batters in order.


The host Foothillers suffered from a dearth of energy in Tuesday’s (Apr. 3) second round of the Lions Tournament Classic Division.

They stranded 13 runners on base. Worse than that, they left the bases loaded four of the seven innings, leaving the bases full in three consecutive innings.

Although the game was played at Joe Gizoni Field, Grossmont was designated the visiting team via the customary pre-game coin flip.

The Foothillers came out swinging as NICO MAIDA and ALEX CONNOR singled. BRETT STONE doubled to left center, scoring Maida. ERIC ECKLEY walked to load the bases but the Foothillers faltered after that.

After falling behind 2-1 Grossmont (8-5) tied the game in the 4th inning on singles by Stone, Eckley and NOAH BUCHANAN.

But El Camino jumped reliever BROOKS O’HAVER with the winning run in the bottom of the 7th inning.

Despite suffering the loss this was one of O’Haver’s better outings as he allowed only one run and two hits in 3 2/3 innings.



Despite having their top two pitchers – MITCH COOMBS and ROBBIE SCHMIDT – sidelined by nagging injuries, the Norsemen keep finding a way to win.

In Tuesday’s (May 1) Grossmont Hills League game against visiting Grossmont the Norsemen received a powerful pitching performance by SEAN FLANNERY, who scattered six hits and struck out four in a complete game effort.

None the less this game came down to the final play.

Trailing 4-1 as they entered the 7th frame, the Foothillers made a belated charge to snap their 12-game losing streak. NICK ROCHESTER walked and NICK LORE ran for him. NOAH BUCHANAN got a pinch hit single to left. TYLER GARDETTO tapped into a force play, erasing Buchanan at second and leaving Foothillers at the corners.

ALEX ESTRADA also hit into a force out, erasing Gardetto and allowing Lore to score to make it 4-2. NICO MAIDA doubled to left-center, scoring Estrada but the Norsemen cut down Maida attempting to stretch his hit into a triple. Norsemen center fielder CONNOR HOPKINS fired to shortstop RAMSEY ROMANO, who relayed the ball to third baseman JAMES MARTIN for the game-ending out.

Hard-luck Hillers haunted by Helix [Helix Grossmont 9; Helix 10]

© East County

EL CAJON (5-5-12) — Grossmont High was one inning away from snapping a 13-game losing streak in Thursday’s (May 4) Grossmont Hills League battle with crosstown rival Helix. The Foothillers led 9-7 entering the top of the 7th.

Helix erupted for three runs in the top of the 7th to steal a 10-9 victory vaulting the Highlanders into second place in the GHL.

Due to a previous game ejection to Helix coach COLE HOLLAND, which forced him to sit out of Thursday’s game, assistant BRIAN SCHROEDER took the reins and managed Thursday’s maze.

“I gave them full range,” Holland said. “My coaches did it all…lineup cards… made all the right moves… showed the comeback that we are capable of doing.”

“I thought my assistant coaches did a great job,” Holland said. “They made all the right moves.”

GEORGE GARCIA slapped the game-winning single after RAY PETERSON’s two-run base hit tied the game.

The Foothillers led 9-7 entering the top of the 7th Thanks in part to the Hillers playing some long-ball. Noah Buchanan and Nico Maida, both went yard and each contributed 3 RBIs. Nico Maida who went 2-3 and a walk, had a three-run homer to tie the game 5-5 in the 5th inning. Helix erupted for three runs in the top of the 7th to steal a 10-9 victory vaulting the Highlanders into second place in the GHL.

HELIX 5, GROSSMONT 4 (10 inn.)

The woes continued for the Grossmont Foothillers who suffered a school record 15th straight loss in Tuesday’s (May 8) Grossmont Hills League encounter at Helix.

The Highlanders (16-8, 7-3 GHL) maintained their grip on second place as they overcame a 4-1 deficit to continue the Foothillers downward spiral.

Helix pushed across the deciding run in the 10th inning. DARYL BIBBS walked and KACY SMITH followed with his fourth hit of the game. The runners moved up on a wild pitch. Two outs later BRANDON LEWIS was intentionally walked to load the bases.

It appeared that the Highlanders had won the game when FRANKIE NUNEZ was hit by a pitch. The umpire said that Nunez did not try to avoid the pitch, which is not a rule, so the game continued.

One pitch later Nunez singled to left to score Bibbs with the winning run.

“This was a tough game to win,” said Helix coach COLE HOLLAND, who noted that the Highlanders left 16 runners on base.

Helix left the bases loaded in the 7th inning, had runners on second and third with nobody out and failed to score, and wasted a leadoff double in the 9th before finally finding the victory formula.

Helix starting pitcher MARK YOUNG allowed only one earned run in seven innings. Reliever ALEX BRITSCHGI retired all nine batters he faced in three innings of relief to pick up the win.

After Helix took a 1-0 lead on an RBI single by Smith, Grossmont scored the next four runs thanks greatly to three Helix errors.

The Highlanders fought back in the 3rd inning on an RBI single by BRANDON LEWIS. The Scotties tied the game in the 5th on an RBI single by RORY WAGNER and DIEGO REYNOSO got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to tie the game 4-4.

“I can’t complain because the kids are trying and playing hard,” said Grossmont coach JIM EARLEY. “There’s been a lot of positives and the future of this ballclub is tremendous.”

NICO MAIDA and HUNTER STRATTON had two hits apiece for Grossmont.

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