Grossmont High School 2013

Grossmont High Varsity Baseball Highlights 2013


East County Sports


© East County

02- Mar 13 – SAN YSIDRO 10, GROSSMONT 5

Junior designated hitter PEYTON LINDSAY went 3-for-3 with a home run and 3 RBI for Grossmont in Saturday’s (Mar. 2) Foothiller-Aztec Classic at Joe Gizoni Field.

The Foothillers hammered out 10 hits, including a triple by HUNTER STRATTON and doubles by NOAH BUCHANAN and NICO MAIDA. BRETT STONE was 2-for-3.

Seven Grossmont pitchers paraded to the mound as San Ysidro hammered four home runs to pull out the victory.

“I think we hit it pretty well today, we just didn’t get the big hit that we needed,” said first-year Grossmont coach CHAD WILLIAMS. “We didn’t pitch well at times as far as location. The good news is its game No. 1 and we’ll get back after it on Wednesday.”

09 Mar 13 – Vista 5, Grossmont 10

Hillers awake just in time, down Vista in extra innings

By Bill Dickens
© East County

VISTA (3-10-13) — Despite going hitless for five innings, the visiting Grossmont Foothillers nailed down a 10-5 victory over host Vista in Saturday’s (Mar. 9) Foothiller-Aztec Classic.

It took the Foothillers nine innings and two clutch doubles by junior catcher HUNTER STRATTON to get the job done.

Stratton ripped a 2-run double over the center fielder’s head, giving Grossmont a 2-0 lead in the 1st inning. Then he capped off the afternoon with a bases loaded double that short-hopped the right field fence in Grossmont’s 5-run 9th inning.

Actually it was DEREK RUSTICH’s RBI single that broke a 5-5 tie in the 9th.

At first it looked like Grossmont was going to breeze as the Foothillers took a 5-0 lead in the 2nd inning. NICO MAIDA hit an RBI single in the explosive 2nd inning and ANTHONY CARNEIRA also had a bunt single.

Leadoff hitter NOAH BUCHANAN had two hits and scored three runs and drove in another.

Grossmont (2-1) went hitless from the 4th through the 8th but still came out the victor thanks to some solid pitching by four Foothiller hurlers.

Reliever J.T. BARNES blanked the Panthers over the final two frames to earn the victory.


14 Mar 13 – GROSSMONT 8, MIRA MESA 2

The Foothillers put this one away with six runs in the 1st inning of Thursday’s (Mar. 14) Foothiller-Aztec Classic encounter.

NICO MAIDA and DEREK RUSTICH had RBI singles in the opening frame. HUNTER STRATTON doubled in a run, as did PEYTON LINDSAY.

A throwing error by the Marauders gave the Foothillers two more runs.

An RBI single by Stratton capped a 2-run rally to put the game away in the 6th inning.

“We got another solid pitching performance and did a good job in the 1st inning,” noted Grossmont coach CHAD WILLIAMS. “We did a great job offensively – our 1 through 5 hitters were a combined 10-for-15 on the day.”

Bill Dickens Grossmont Tournament


Host Grossmont made it look easy as JOEY VISKAS, PEYTON LINDSAY and BRANDON WEED combined on a 3-hit shutout with 9 strikeouts in the first round of Monday’s (Mar. 19) Bill Dickens Grossmont Conference Tournament.

The Foothillers (5-1) took command with 3 runs in the 2nd inning and 4 more in the 4th to put the game away.

NICO MAIDA banged out 3 hits in 4 at-bats and drove in 2 runs, including the first run to put the Foothillers in charge.

Hillers’ leadoff man NOAH BUCHANAN was 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.

“It was one of the best games we’ve had all year,” said Grossmont coach CHAD WILLIAMS.

Probably the key serve came in the 6th inning when reliever Lindsay struck out 3 batters after MountMiguel loaded the bases with nobody out.

“One thing about MountMiguel is they’re very competitive,” said Williams. “No matter what the score is they always remain positive, and that’s a credit to their coach.”

Six unearned runs left the Matadors trailing 7-0 after four innings.

“Regardless of who we play we’re not going to win ballgames making six errors,” said Matadors coach JASON BABINEAU. “We need to continue to get better… and we will.”

23 Mar 13 – Santana 1, Grossmont 15
Foothillers making major changes

By Bill Dickens
© East County

EL CAJON (3-23-13) — It’s not often that a high school baseball coach makes eight changes in his lineup by the 3rd inning, as Grossmont High’s CHAD WILLIAMS did in Friday’s (Mar. 22) third round of the Bill Dickens Grossmont Conference Tournament against visiting Santana.

Of course, after two innings, the Foothillers led 15-0.

Even more impressive than that was Grossmont received a grand slam home run by TYLER GARDETTO, a 2-run homers by NICO MAIDA and DEREK RUSTICH, and a solo shot by NOAH BUCHANAN.

Four Grossmont pitchers combined to pitch a 5-hitter as the Foothillers hammered out a 15-1 victory over the Sultans.

“We hit 4 home runs today, which is pretty impressive considering we only hit one in our first seven games,” said Williams.

It’s a whole new atmosphere at Grossmont this year, which concluded last season with 20 consecutive losses.

“There’s a different feeling across the board this year,” said senior third baseman DEREK RUSTICH, who was 2-for-3 with his first home run of the season against the Sultans (3-5). “We know we’re a good team and we’re not feeling the same kind of pressure to prove it like we did last year.”

Of all the home runs, probably Gardetto’s grand slam was hit the hardest as it cut through a cross wind in left field.

“It was a fastball on the inner half,” said Gardetto of his longball.

Life is a lot different for Gardetto from last year when he saw limited playing time.

“I mostly got into the game when Rustich was on the mound,” he said. “I did a lot of pinch-hitting too. Of course I like my role better now because I get to be in the lineup every day.”

ZACH SESTEK pitched the first three innings and allowed only one hit and struck out 5 to earn the win.

Grossmont flips the power switch

03/22/2013, 10:47pm PDT

By Bill Dickens, Special to the U-T

Early-season home run count for the San Diego Section appears headed for an all-time low.

EL CAJON — The early-season home run count for the San Diego Section appears headed for an all-time low.

Most baseball experts attribute that to the hitters’ use of the still relatively new toned-down bats, which deaden the impact far more than the older metal bats did.

Take Grossmont, for example. The Foothillers play in the friendly confines of Joe Gizoni Field, which has typically produced hefty home run totals much like the Cubs’ Wrigley Field does at the major league level.

Yet in their first seven games (four of them at home), the Foothillers hit only one home run.

That all changed Friday. In the first two innings of a Bill Dickens Grossmont Conference Tournament game, the Hillers hammered four home runs on their way to a 15-1 victory over visiting Santana.

Grossmont clubbed three home runs in an eight-run first inning. Tyler Gardetto hit a grand slam into the wind in left field, Nico Maida hoisted a two-run homer over the right-field fence and Noah Buchanan hit a solo shot to right-center.

In a seven-run second inning, Derek Rustich ripped a two-run homer to right-center.

“Obviously with these bats there are going to be fewer home runs,” said Rustich, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior third baseman who will play at Texas Tech. “But it’s still baseball. If you square up on a pitch your chances of hitting the ball hard are a lot better. The home runs will come.”

Grossmont is off to a 6-2 start after closing last season with 20 consecutive defeats.

“It’s a new year for all of us,” Rustich said. “The situation is more peaceful and we’re not feeling the kind of pressure we did last year when we were losing.”


Nation’s biggest, best baseball tournament opens Monday

GROSSMONT 11, ST. AUGUSTINE 1 – An 8-run 5th inning staked Grossmont to a lopsided victory over previously undefeated St. Augustine in Tuesday’s (Mar. 26) Premier Division second round of the Lions Tournament at Hickman Field.

NOAH BUCHANAN blasted a bases loaded triple in the Foothillers 5th inning. DEREK RUSTICH also slashed a 2-run double in the blowout frame, and NICO MAIDA went 3-4.

GROSSMONT 8, ROOSEVELT 1 – Having already secured a berth in the 63rd annual Lions Tournament semi-final game, the Grossmont High Foothillers (9-2) were looking to keep their momentum going on Wednesday (Mar. 27) at Joe Gizoni Field.

The Foothillers took care of business by scoring in every frame but one, closing pool play with a perfect 3-0 record after cruising past Roosevelt High of Los Angeles

Head coach CHAD WILLIAMS discussed the team’s approach today. “We talked about keeping our heads in the game”, he said. “Sometimes you can lose focus when you play three days in a row.”

Focus can be difficult when you have an inning like the 1st. Grossmont put 3 runs on the board without the benefit of a hit. BRETT STONE had a bases loaded walk. Next TYLER GARDETTO was hit by a pitch, forcing home a second run. ALEX ESTRADA followed with a sacrifice fly to centerfield to plate run number three.

A more conventional sequence took place in the 2nd inning. ALEX MARLAY doubled, NOAH BUCHANAN singled and HUNTER STRATTON drove in a run with a sharp single to right.

The Foothillers added single runs in the 3rd, 4th and 6th innings. The final run was driven in by FREDDY WALKER. Junior pitcher MATT LUJAN threw 2 scoreless innings to close this game out. NICO MAIDA was perfect at the plate going 2-2 and adding 2 Walks.

“It’s all hands on deck tomorrow,” Williams stated. “We have a couple of pitchers that threw earlier in the tournament who won’t be available. Some different guys will get a shot to prove themselves.”

— Mark Meadows

Continuation of Bill Dickens Tournament

GROSSMONT 12, EL CAPITAN 3 – The visiting Foothillers pounded out 17 hits as they destroyed El Capitan in Monday’s (Apr. 1) fourth round of the 3rd annual Bill Dickens Grossmont Conference Tournament.

The cornerstone of the latest victory for the 10-3 Foothillers was third baseman DEREK RUSTICH. Not only did the Texas Tech-bound Rustich drive in 3 runs with a double and a triple, he also put on a Brooks Robinson-like defensive display at the hot corner.

“He really put on a show defensively,” said Grossmont coach CHAD WILLIAMS. “I wasn’t sure if he could play third base at the higher levels, but I’m pretty sure now.”

Shortstop NICO MAIDA also drove in 3 runs for the Foothillers, while DAN ROLF whacked a 2-run homer. PEYTON LINDSAY was 3-for-4 and NOAH BUCHANAN had a pair of doubles and was 2-for-4 with 2 RBI.

This game was not without its oddities. Catcher HUNTER STRATTON was 3-for-4 but was robbed of a home run when the base umpire decided a towering fly ball had landed in foul territory.

“Everybody in the stands knew that was fair, but the man in blue said it wasn’t,” said Williams. “It was a weird game because Rolf hit a home run that ricocheted off a telephone pole in the outfield that I thought for sure they would argue about that too, but they didn’t.

“We had an obvious base hit to the outfield but the umpire said the guy caught it. He was the only one who didn’t think it was short-hopped – but what’re you gonna do?”

Six of Grossmont’s 17 hits went for extra bases, and that was more than enough for 6-foot-7 starting pitcher JOEY VISKAS, who rolled his record to 4-0. J.T. BARNES finishing with two innings of 1-hit shutout relief.

El Capitan attempted to make a game of it in the bottom of the 1st after the Foothillers took a 3-0 lead by scoring 2 runs.

AUSTIN CURO-RUIS got hit by a pitch, ERIC LOZANO singled and a throwing error plated the Vaqueros’ first run. CONRAD STANTON had an RBI single in the opening frame.

El Capitan would not score again until TRAVIS BAKER’s RBI double in the 5th inning.

GROSSMONT 9, VALHALLA 0 – Although the Foothillers scored in all six innings Wednesday (Apr. 3) during the final round of pool play in the Bill Dickens Grossmont Conference Tournament, it doesn’t give them any specific advantage in the championship game.

Irony was the order of the day. It was Valhalla that kept Grossmont from advancing last week to the Lions Tournament finale. With today’s Foothillers win over Valhalla, Grossmont proceeds to Friday’s (Apr. 5) Dickens tourney championship game against, of course, Valhalla .

Foothillers starting pitcher ZACH SESTAK broke out the pitching stick on the Norsemen. The senior right-hander went 6 innings giving up just two singles while striking out 8 and walking 4. He got a chance to finish his handiwork, but yielded a lead walk in the 7th.

BRANDON WEED came on to get a double play and a strikeout to finish Valhalla .

“Knowing what’s on the line helped keep me focused,” Sestak said. “They ( Valhalla ) were pretty loud in the beginning, but I think it just helped me concentrate.”

Grossmont coach CHAD WILLIAMS had high praise for his starting pitcher.

“Sestak gave us just what we needed today,” Williams said. “In a tough game with tough circumstances, Zach turned in a quality performance.”

Offensively, Grossmont was the recipient of some early charity as Valhalla loaded the bases with 3 walks. Senior centerfielder BRETT STONE (3-for-4, 4 RBI) then screamed a double inside the third base bag, plating two Foothillers.

Stone’s day was just getting started. In the 3rd inning with nobody on, Stone found a curveball to his liking as he launched a solo homer to left field.

“I noticed they threw DEREK (RUSTICH) back-to-back curves, so it was in the back of my mind,” Stone said. “I wasn’t really looking curve, but after I got the first one, I was aware there might be a second one coming.”

And going.

In the 4th, and following a HUNTER STRATTON (2-for-4) RBI double, Stone collected his 3rd hit with a single to center, bringing Stratton home.

Stone fell a hit short (triple) of the cycle, but admitted he was aware of the circumstances.

“Going into my final at-bat, I knew the situation,” Stone added. “But right now I’m just trying to see things and react instead of thinking at the plate.”

Valhalla ‘s lone hits were registered by SEAN CROSBY and DOMENIC DONATO.

Valhalla head coach MIKE WILSON likes the chances of his Norsemen.

“We’ve got one of our top guys going on the mound,” he said. “We are at home. We are playing for a tournament championship.”

Williams echoed Wilson .

“We have momentum. We have plenty of pitching left. There will be plenty of energy on both sides to be sure.”

— Mark Meadows


Norsemen-Hillers to meet yet again in battke for BDGCT championship

By Bill Dickens
© East County

EL CAJON (4-4-13) — Valhalla High will host Grossmont in Friday’s (Apr. 5) championship game of the 3rd annual Bill Dickens Grossmont Conference Tournament at 4 p.m.

Playing on the Grossmont Valley League side of the tournament bracket this spring, the Norsemen (9-6 overall), posted four wins in five pool play games to earn their ticket to the finals. Grossmont (11-3) was also 4-1 in pool play activity on the GHL side, but needed to win the tie-breaker for fewest runs allowed (11) to edge Granite Hills (14), West Hills (16) and Helix (19).

Ironically, the Foothillers registered a 9-0 romp over visiting Valhalla in Wednesday’s (Apr. 10) final round of Dickens tourney pool play to advance. Just one week earlier the Norsemen flattened the Foothillers 11-2 in the semifinals of the Premier Division of the 63rd Lions Tournament.

Don’t bet on the third meeting being a blowout

These teams will meet three more times in GHL action when league play commences on Wednesday (Apr. 10).


TOURNAMENT – Championship

Romero goes overtime to lift Valhalla

By Mark Meadows and Bill Dickens
© East County

EL CAJON (4-6-13) — RAMSEY ROMANO placed his Valhalla High teammates on his back and carried the Norsemen (10-6) across the finish line for a 7-6 victory over the Grossmont Foothillers in 8 innings to earn the winner’s crown in the 3rd annual Bill Dickens Grossmont Conference Tournament championship game on Friday (Apr. 5).

Romano (4-for-5, 1 run, 1 RBI) set the pace, but DOMENIC DONATO (double, 3 RBI) did the heavy lifting.

Romano’s hitting and pitching kept Valhalla close, while Donato clutched up twice to steer the Norsemen home against the visiting Foothillers (11-4).

“After two blowouts, we kind of expected this type of game,” said Romano of two previous lopsided splits. “I had another inning (pitching) in me if we needed it, but I’m glad we ended it in the 8th.”

Valhalla took the early lead with 2 runs in the second inning. GIUSEPPE CASTANOS led with a double to left and COREY ZIMMERMAN was safe on an error. FOSTER McNARY plated Castanos with an infield single and Romano drove home the second run with a single to left.

Grossmont tied things up in the 3rd. PEYTON LINDSAY doubled to leftfield and later scored on a Valhalla wild pitch. Later in the inning BRETT STONE (2-for-4) singled home NOAH BUCHANAN who had reached on a walk, to knot the score at 2-2.

Grossmont would take its first lead an inning later when HUNTER STRATTON stroked a first pitch fastball over the right field wall for his second homer of the year. Stratton’s ball appeared to be off the end of the bat but carried through a crosswind where the Valhalla right-fielder got a glove on it only to drop it as he crashed into the fence.

TYLER GARDETTO followed with a double and later scored on a Valhalla balk to make it 4-2 Grossmont.

With Valhalla trailing 6-4 in the bottom of the 6th inning, Romano started a one-out rally with a single to center. A ground ball by JORDAN QSAR forced Romano at second base for out No. two. But Grossmont issued back-to-back walks to load the bases.

With two outs and the bases loaded, one had to wonder if the stage might be a tad too big for freshman Donato.

It wasn’t.

After yanking a 3-2 fastball foul down the third base line, Donato smoked the next fastball over the leftfielder’s head. Donato’s drive would easily plate three Valhalla runs for the lead, but the ball hopped over the fence for a ground rule double, and only 2 runs would score to tie it at 6-6.

“I figured in that situation he (the pitcher) had to come to me,” Donato stated. “I was actually looking away, but I got a pitch to drive and just tried to put a good swing on it.”

Romano would leave his regular shortstop position to come in to face 6 batters over the final two innings to give the Norsemen a shot at the championship in the bottom of the 8th inning.

Of course it was Romano who started the victory flame by beating out an infield single to shortstop. Qsar then worked a walk. Following a sacrifice bunt by CHRIS HUDGINS, SEAN CROSBY was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Bring on Donato – again. He worked the count to 3-2. This time he sent a grounder into the hole at short. Foothillers shortstop NICO MAIDA (2-for-3) had no option but to try for the double play.

Grossmont got one out at second base but Donato beat the relay throw and Romano had scored the winning run and became the winning pitcher on the same swing of the bat.

Valhalla coach MIKE WILSON found many things to like about this victory.

“Our execution was much better today, and I like the way we battled back,” he said. “After losing (2-1 to San Dieguito) in the Lions Tournament final, it’s nice to come out on top this time.”

With the rugged Grossmont Hills League starting play next Wednesday (Apr.10), both coaches know that even though the season is half over, it is really just beginning.

Grossmont coach CHAD WILLIAMS noted, “After the Valhalla games and our tough tournament schedule, I think our team is already battle tested. This will serve us well in league play.”

Coach Wilson was on the same page. “Our league is so good we know that playing tough early games is only going to help us down the road.”



Predicted GHL finish:

1. Granite Hills (11-4): The Eagles, who were once ranked No. 1 in Southern California but have since fallen on hard times, figure to rebound behind a deep pitching staff led by SEAN WALKER (2-0-1, 1.00 ERA), DANIEL VASQUEZ (4-1, 1.08), TRENTON BROOKS (2-1, 2.00) and JAYSON ROSE (2-2, 2.49). Shortstop NOAH CUMMINGS leads the Eagles’ offensive attack with a .432 average (3 HR, 18 RBI).

2. Valhalla (10-6): The Norsemen, who lost four of their first five to begin the season, have rebounded into contention and could go all way to the top. RAMSEY ROMANO is the kingpin, as a shortstop (.464) and relief pitcher. SEAN CROSBY (.405) adds to the sporadic Valhalla offense.

3. Grossmont (11-4): After finishing last season with 20 losses in a row the Foothillers have fashioned themselves as contenders, and rightfully so. Shortstop NICO MAIDA (.457), second baseman NOAH BUCHANAN (.404), catcher HUNTER STRATTON (.386), designated hitter PEYTON LINDSAY (.375) and third baseman DEREK RUSTICH (.372) carry an explosive Grossmont offense.

4. West Hills (10-3): No question the Wolf Pack could make a run for the title. This is a team that has better than average pitching, led by DAVID HESSLINK and WILL BENNETT. Catcher JOHNNY ESPINOZA is a solid back-stop, while center-fielder D.J. LEWIS is probably the best outfielder in the league. (No stats were available for West Hills.)

5. Helix (7-7): Corner infielder JORGE GARCIA is one of the top power hitters in EastCounty, but he can’t carry the Highlanders by himself. It all boils down to pitching, and that’s where FRANKIE NUNEZ and JEREMIAH WYLIE pick up the ball. RAY PETERSON, batting .317 for the Highlanders, is a classic leadoff hitter.

6. SteeleCanyon (8-6): This is a topsy-turvy team. The youthful Cougars are
certainly capable of making a run for the title, but they could also finish in the basement. Junior shortstop TANNER PERRY might be the best player in the league with a .523 batting average. He has 3 home runs and 19 RBI. BERNY ARIPEZ is batting .451 for the Cougars, but pitching is a problem. If the Cougars can develop some pitching help they certainly have the offense to rise in the standings.

Hillers pound Helix in GHL opener

© East County
LA MESA (4-11-13) — The visiting Grossmont Foothillers scored in 6 of their 7 turns at bat as they opened the Grossmont Hills League season on Wednesday (Apr. 10) with a 12-2 victory over Helix.

The Foothillers made their intentions known on the first pitch when NOAH BUCHANAN belted a home run over the left-field fence. That was just the beginning for Buchanan, who also scored 4 runs, drove in 3 and collected a double and a single in the Foothillers’ leadoff spot.

“Nine out of 10 times the first pitch is gonna be a fastball,” said Buchanan. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to be right in the strike zone, but you have to be looking for it. The ball I hit was up and in.”

The Foothillers broke a 2-2 tie in the 4th inning when PEYTON LINDSAY lined a home run over the left-field fence. The rally didn’t stop there as Buchanan singled to keep things alive. NICO MAIDA tripled to right-center field to score Buchanan.

Grossmont put the game away with a pair of 3-run innings in the 6th and 7th. The key blow in the 6th was an RBI double by HUNTER STRATTON. Back-to-back doubles by NICK DALEY and Buchanan put the game away with 3 more tallies in the 7th.

For Grossmont JOEY VISKAS pitched the first six frames to roll his record to 5-0.

“In the first two innings I was rushing my pitches and getting my leg too high,” Viskas said. “But once I settled down everything was pretty easy.”

Helix kept pace in the first two innings on RBI singles by JORGE GARCIA and SHANE NOBIENSKY.

The Highlanders (7-8, 0-1 GHL) left the bases loaded in the 7th inning when Garcia popped up.


GROSSMONT 3, HELIX 0 – Not many games are dominated by pitching more than Wednesday’s (Apr. 17) Grossmont Hills League game between the visiting Helix Highlanders and the Foothillers at Joe Gizoni Field.

There were no RBI in this battle of league rivals. Helix (9-9, 2-2 GHL) came up empty thanks to the complete game 5-hit pitching of JOEY VISKAS.

Viskas (6-1) walked one and struck out 5 while not allowing an extra base hit.

Helix’s JEREMIAH WYLIE was the hardluck loser as he allowed two earned runs and six singles in five innings. Wylie, however, damaged his chances by hitting three batters and uncorking two wild pitches.

“Both pitchers were in complete control,” said Grossmont coach CHAD WILLIAMS.

The last time these two pitchers faced off was only a week ago, when the Hillers won 12-2.

“Wylie was much tougher this time,” Williams added. “I don’t know how many pitches he made above the knees but it sure wasn’t many.”

For Grossmont it was vintage Viskas – no cheap hits, no free passes.

“No question, Joey is an efficient pitcher,” Williams noted.

Grossmont’s 8-hit attack featured 2 singles apiece from BRETT STONE and HUNTER STRATTON.

JORGE GARCIA accounted for two of Helix’s five hits.

Grossmont vs.  Steel Canyon – Weed growing at Grossmont 

Another complete game for converted relief pitcher

By Bill Dickens
© East County

EL CAJON (4-20-13) — Junior BRANDON WEED began the season as a late-inning reliever for the Grossmont Foothillers.

A key injury gave the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Weed a chance to better exhibit his talents.

In Friday’s (Apr. 19) Foothillers 7-1 Grossmont Hills League victory over visiting SteeleCanyon at Joe Gizoni Field, Weed logged his second consecutive complete-game victory.

“At the beginning of the year we had Weed ticketed in a middle relief role,” said Grossmont coach CHAD WILLIAMS. “But then we had some injuries and we challenged him, told him we needed more from him, and he’s come through for us.”

Weed limited SteeleCanyon to 3 hits while striking out 6 in his latest outing.

“I really didn’t have my best stuff,” he said. “I just tried to hit spots and keep hitters off balance. But really my goal was to deceive the hitters.”

And so he did.

Two of SteeleCanyon ’s 3 hits came off the bat of TANNER PERRY, arguably the best hitter in EastCounty . In fact it was Perry’s base hit to left field that accounted for the only run for the Cougars (9-10, 1-4 GHL).

Grossmont first baseman PEYTON LINDSAY drove in 3 runs with a pair of singles. His first basehit of the day plated two Foothillers in the 1st inning, which no doubt helped build confidence for pitcher Weed.

The versatile junior, who began the season as Grossmont’s designated hitter and relief pitcher, has now solidified himself as the Hillers first base man.

“You know, it’s completely different when you’re a DH or an on-the-field player,” Lindsay said. “When you’re the DH it’s hard to keep your focus on the game as much as you should. When you’re on the field you’re a lot more active and a lot more aware of what’s going on in the game. I like playing first base.”

NICO MAIDA also had 2 hits for the Foothillers (15-5, 4-1 GHL).

“For some reason we don’t usually start fast, although we did today,” Maida said. “We expect to win every game we play and when we’re clicking we put a lot of hits together.”

Next week will be a true test for the Foothillers as they play SteeleCanyon on Monday and then face off against front-running Granite Hills on Wednesday and Friday.

STEELE CANYON 5, GROSSMONT 3 – After breaking into the San Diego Section Top 10 this week, the visiting Grossmont Foothillers took a pratfall in Monday’s (Apr. 22) Grossmont Hills League clash with host SteeleCanyon .

The Cougars (10-10, 2-4) erased a 3-2 deficit with three runs in the bottom of the 6th to pull back into the GHL race. SteeleCanyon should thank Grossmont (15-6, 4-2) for committing four errors that handed the Cougars five unearned runs.

Case in point was the 6th inning. Two errors set the stage for JOE AGUIRRE’s bunt single that allowed Steele Canyon to take a 4-3 edge. EastCounty batting leader TANNER PERRY then singled home an insurance run.

The Cougars took a 1-0 lead in the first inning as BERNY ARIPEZ doubled, scampered to third and scored on a bloop single by NATHAN MURRAY coupled with a throwing error by the Foothillers.

Grossmont tied the game on a solo home run by DEREK RUSTICH in the 2nd inning. The Foothillers took a 2-1 edge on NICO MAIDA’s infield single in the 3rd inning.

SteeleCanyon tied the game 2-2 in the 3rd inning on a basehit by Murray .

Grossmont regained the lead on a solo home run by HUNTER STRATTON – his 4th of the season – in the 6th frame.

The Cougars’ CASEY BALIKIAN picked up his 4th win in 6 decisions as he scattered 7 hits over six innings. Grossmont transfer BRANDON BROWN pitched a shutout 7th inning to earn the save for SteeleCanyon .

GROSSMONT 5, GRANITE HILLS 2 – Grossmont’s BRANDON WEED pitched his 3rd complete game victory to lift the Foothillers into the Grossmont Hills League lead by knocking off visiting Granite Hills 5-2 on Friday (Apr. 26) at Joe Gizoni Field.

There’s nothing flashy about Weed, who owns a 3-0 record, but he knows how to get outs and win games. And that’s the bottom line.

The junior right-hander was cuffed around in the 1st inning for two runs but quickly regained his footing to hand Granite Hills (16-7, 5-3 GHL) its 3rd straight loss and put the Foothillers one game into the league lead.

“I knew this was a big game so I was a lot more nervous than I was in my two other starts,” Weed said. “I guess probably the biggest thing about pitching complete games is my stamina keeps improving after every outing. If I struggle at the beginning I know I can come back and my team will pick me up.”

“I was spotting my fastball on the outside corner in the 1st inning and they were hitting it to the opposite field,” Weed added.

Granite Hills scored both of its runs in the 1st inning. ROBERT BOSTEDT led off with a bloop single to left. TRENTON BROOKS doubled down the left field line and NOAH CUMMINGS delivered a sacrifice fly. JOSH ROSE then singled in Brooks for the Eagles.

After that Granite Hills struggled against Weed’s deliveries.

Grossmont (17-6, 5-2 GHL) rebounded for two runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning to tie the game. Sophomore RYAN BARNES singled in the first run and ALEX MARLAY’s groundout brought in the tying run.

Grossmont took the lead in the 3rd inning without benefit of a hit on three walks and a hit batter.

The Hillers added a fourth run on singles by Barnes, Marlay and NICO MAIDA an inning later.

Grossmont tacked on an insurance run in the 5th inning as BRETT STONE singled and PEYTON LINDSAY doubled him home.

“Our goal is to win league,” said Hillers catcher HUNTER STRATTON.


First-place Foothillers hitting their stride

© East County
EL CAJON (5-1-13) — The Grossmont Foothillers maintained a tight grip on the Grossmont Hills League lead with a 5-2 victory over the West Hills Wolf Pack at Joe Gizoni Field on Wednesday (May 1).

Led by ace right-hander JOEY VISKAS (8-1, 1.75 ERA), Grossmont (19-6, 8-2 GHL) seized an early 3-0 lead and held off a late West Hills (12-11, 2-8) rally to retain the GHL top spot with one round of league play remaining.

“At this point every win is important,” said Grossmont head coach CHAD WILLIAMS. “Viskas wasn’t as sharp as usual, but he battled like

The Foothillers got on the scoreboard first. Sophomore RYAN BARNES turned on an inside 3-2 fastball and hammered a solo homer to right. DANNY ROLF followed with a hustle double to right-center and NICK DALEY moved him to third on a safety to right. Rolf would score on an errant throw and NICO MAIDA (2-for-4, RBI) would drive home Daley to lift Grossmont to a 3-0 lead.

Barnes is a recent call-up from JV. He was 4-for-4 with 3 walks coming into today’s action. He knew why he was brought up to varsity and what his role would be.

“I knew I was brought up to swing the bat,” he said. “I’ve been the DH for the most part, so I’ve been able to concentrate on my hitting. On the home run I was just looking fastball.”

West Hills closed the gap to 3-1 in the 5th inning when JOHNNY ESPINOZA scored on a bases loaded walk.

The game still hung in the balance until the 6th. Grossmont pinch hitter HUNTER STRATTON was aboard on a 1-out walk. With two outs FREDDY WALKER legged out an infield single to short. NOAH BUCHANAN then found a 2-1 offering to his liking.

“I was looking fastball all the way,” Buchanan said of his two-run double. “I haven’t had a hit in a few games so it was nice to get one in that situation”.

Buchanan’s double would give the 10th-ranked Foothillers a 5-1 lead heading into the 7th.

West Hills’ HAYDEN SCHILLING (3-for-3) scored in the 7th to close the gap to 5-2. Schilling has garnered 7 hits in his last 8 at-bats.

But with two on base and the tying run at the plate, Grossmont’s BRANDON WEED was summoned out of the bullpen to shut the door on the Wolf Pack and record his first save of the season.

Of note for West Hills was junior pitcher TRENT TOPLIKAR who went 5 innings striking out six while yielding only 2 earned runs.

— Mark Meadows

GROSSMONT 4, VALHALLA 1 – The Foothillers posted their 5th straight win and 8th in their last 9 starts Friday (May 3) as their Magic Man BRANDON WEED pitched his 4th straight complete game victory in a key Grossmont Hills League win over Valhalla.

Weed scattered 5 hits and allowed only one run, walked two and struck out 7.

However, Valhalla was toe-to-toe with the first-place Foothillers (20-6, 9-2 GHL) through six innings as freshman DOMENIC DONATO kept the Grossmont bats in check.

Grossmont eventually snapped a 1-1 deadlock with 3 runs in the top of the 7th inning. DAN ROLF led off with a double to left and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by ALEX MARLAY. NOAH BUCHANAN then broke the tie with a single to center, scoring Rolf. Buchanan advanced to second on a wild pitch and NICO MAIDA followed with a walk. HUNTER STRATTON then put the game on ice with a 2-run triple to right field.

“Every week is a big week,” stated Grossmont coach CHAD WILLIAMS. “We’re just taking it one at a time. Weed threw a helluva game – got out of a jam when he needed to. We got a lot of spark from our 8-9 hitters (Rolf and Marlay, who were a combined 3-for-5).”

Grossmont’s victory gave the Foothillers a 3-2 edge over the Norsemen (14-13, 4-7 GHL).

Frantic finish goes to Granite Hills

By Bill Dickens
© East County

EL CAJON (5-11-13) — Granite Hills High senior SEAN WALKER had a plan – both on the field and off the field.

But it was his 2-run double in the 7th inning of Friday’s (May 10) showdown against Grossmont that probably produced the most memorable day of his life.

The 6-5 victory was sweet, but Walker ’s off-the-field plan made it even better. As the Eagles scrambled around, trying to figure out what Walker was up to, suddenly a bouquet of flowers showed up.

A mystified but smiling VICTORIA HARDING, was led blindfolded to home plate, where Walker met her and invited her to the Senior Prom as he handed her the flowers.

She accepted his invitation to the June 1st event.

TRENTON BROOKS, who pitched the first six innings and had his jersey ripped, said he didn’t know what was going on.

“I saw flowers in the clubhouse but didn’t know what they were for,” he said.

One of the players barked out of the background “What if she had said No?”

That wasn’t likely however, as the young couple has been dating for three months.

“I told Sean he could carry out his plan as long as we won the game,” said Granite Hills coach JAMES DAVIS.

So Walker took matters into his own hands.

After Brooks singled to lead off the 7th inning, NOAH CUMMINGS followed with a double. JOSH ROSE was intentionally walked, setting the stage for Walker, who blasted a line drive into left-center field to score 2 runs and win the game.

Grossmont (20-8, 9-4 GHL) had taken a 4-3 lead in the top of the 7th inning as NOAH BUCHANAN singled and NICO MAIDA sacrificed. With two outs HUNTER STRATTON doubled to score Buchanan. PEYTON LINDSAY followed with a triple to give the Hillers a 4-3 edge.

But it didn’t hold up as the Eagles (21-7, 10-3 GHL) rallied in the bottom of the 7th.

CIF San Diego Section

Division-I Playoffs

East County pair will reach

CIFSDS semis, but whom?

© East County
EL CAJON (5-25-13) — East County will have at least two teams in Tuesday’s (May 28) semifinals of the San Diego CIF baseball playoffs as Grossmont Hills League co-champions Grossmont and Granite Hills high schools each rolled their playoff records to 2-0 with victories on Friday (May 24).

The Foothillers (24-8) hammered Valhalla 10-3 for the fourth time in seven meetings this season, while Granite Hills dusted off Helix 6-0 as TRENTON BROOKS notched the Eagles’ 9th shutout while striking out 12.

Included in Saturday’s (May 25) elimination round are: an Open Division rematch between Helix (16-15) at La Costa Canyon (21-11) in NorthCounty; Valhalla (19-15) visiting St. Augustine (24-8) at Hickman Field in Division I; and Christian (21-11) traveling to Escondido (15-12-1) in Division III. All three games start at 11 a.m.

GROSSMONT 10, VALHALLA 3 – The unsung heroes of the playoffs – the Valhalla Norsemen – appeared in line for an upset of No. 2 seed Grossmont in the San Diego CIF Round 2 of the Division I playoffs Friday (May 24) at Joe Gizoni Field.

Make no mistake about it, Valhalla came out swinging. After singles by JORDAN QSAR and JEFF HOUGHTBY, GIUSEPPE CASTANOS hammered a 3-run homer way over the left field fence.

Grossmont could easily have folded at that point, but that didn’t happen. The Foothillers came back in the bottom of the 1st on a single by PEYTON LINDSAY, who was sporting a newly bleached “do” of a reddish hue.

But the Foothillers weren’t clowning around, as they proved in the 2nd inning. With one out Grossmont put together consecutive singles by ALEX MARLAY, NOAH BUCHANAN and NICO MAIDA to make it 3-2.

Grossmont took command in the same frame when HUNTER STRATTON laced a 2-run double to chase Valhalla starter FOSTER McNARY, giving Grossmont a 4-3 edge.

Norsemen closer RAMSEY ROMANO was beckoned to the mound unusually early in the game and served up an RBI single to BRETT STONE to make it 5-3. Romano kept the Hillers in check until the 6th inning, when the roof caved in.

After hitting Buchanan to begin the inning, Romano permitted singles to Maida and Stratton and also tossed in a throwing error to allow Buchanan to score. Stone walked and DEREK RUSTICH singled to right to drive in one run. The Valhalla right-fielder let the ball get by him to allow two more runs to score and Rustich to take third.

That spelled the end for Romano on the hill, as Valhalla brought in LOGAN HESS, who gave up an RBI single to Lindsey and then retired the final three Foothillers.

“All we were trying to do was advance,” said Buchanan, who was 3-for-3 with 3 runs scored.

No question Buchanan was the kingpin of the Grossmont offense as the Hillers’ leadoff hitter. He singled the first three times up, was hit by a pitch his fourth time and scored 3 runs.

“We know these guys and they know us, but this was a story about moving to the next round,” he said.

Batting in the No. 1 spot for Grossmont, Buchanan admitted a leadoff hitter takes a different approach than if he hits lower in the order.

“Nine out of 10 times a pitcher is gonna throw you a first-pitch fastball,” Buchanan explained. “Because they’ve seen me so many times and I’ve seen them so many times, I saw a lot of curveballs. They pitched me backwards most of the time.

“Actually my first hit came on a fastball, the second one on a curveball and the third one on a change-up.”

Obviously Valhalla didn’t know what to throw to get Buchanan out.

BRANDON WEED pitched five innings, allowing only the 1st inning 3-run home run as raised his record to 5-0. ZACH SESTAK pitched the final two hitless innings to earn his first save for Grossmont.



But he would rectify the situation with one mighty swing of the bat. Lindsay took the next Valhalla offering for a ride over the right-center fence and staked Grossmont to a 6-3 lead, providing enough cushion for the Foothillers win.

“He threw me a curve to make it 0-2,” said Lindsay. “I was just looking for something up in the zone and got a fastball I could handle.”

Valhalla has reached the semifinal round four straight years and has knocked off some of the top teams in the county in 2013, but its season would come to an end at the hands of Grossmont.

“Coombs threw a great game,” said coach MIKE WILSON. “He had us in a good spot to win, but that homer was a kick in the side. We battled injuries and obstacles all year, and I’m very proud of our boys.”

The last remaining order of business was whether or not ace right-hander Viskas (11-2, 1.70) could record the final out. With 2 runs home and two outs, coach CHAD WILLIAMS strode to the mound.

“I asked Joey if he could get the last out,” Williams said. “Flat out, how bad did he want it?”

Viskas was up to the challenge and finished the game for his 11th victory in 13 decisions.

“Coach did ask me how much I wanted it,” Viskas confirmed. “I knew it was a huge game for the team and I really wanted to come through for them.”

Round #5 – Game #4 (Championship)

Foothillers Rise from Worst to Champions – Grossmont 5 & Mira Mesa 2

By Mark Meadows
© East County

ALCALA PARK (6-1-13) — From 2005 to 2011, the Grossmont High Foothillers had a dynasty run in the San Diego Section CIF. Advancing to the title game 7 straight years and winning 5 section titles, the Foothillers were the class of EastCounty baseball.

In 2012, Grossmont fell from the elite. And the Foothillers fell hard, going 8-22 and 0-15 in league play. The pitiful calculations included closing the season with 20 consecutive defeats.

Under the lights at Fowler Park on the campus of USD, TYLER GARDETTO’s 3-run double and BRANDON WEED’s strong pitching lifted the Foothillers (26-8) back to prominence with a 5-2 victory over the Mira Mesa Marauders in Friday’s (May 31) San Diego Section CIF Division I title bout.

The championship is Grossmont’s 10th in school history.

That Weed was the winning pitcher in the final game was just as improbable as Grossmont’s turnaround. Slated to be a middle reliever at season’s start, Weed found himself thrust into a starting role early on, due to injuries.

Talk about making the most of your opportunities. Weed finished the season 6-0 with an ERA of 1.80, and is forever engrained as the winning pitcher in the 2013 Division I title game.

“Of course I always wanted to start, but I just wanted to help my team in any way I could,” said Weed. “Tonight, I knew if I could get us at least 5 innings, we had (ZACH) SESTAK in the bullpen and we’d be OK.”

Trailing 1-0 going into the bottom of the 4th, Grossmont would finally get on the scoreboard.

NICO MAIDA started with a hard line-drive to left. BRETT STONE followed suit with another single to left. Next, with the count 2-0, HUNTER STRATTON leaned on a fastball for a run scoring double over the right-fielder’s head to score MAIDA.

“Yeah, he threw me two fastballs away, so I just sat on the fastball hoping he would come inside,” said Stratton. “I knew it was over his (right-fielder’s) head, but wasn’t sure if it was going out.”

But the Foothillers weren’t quite finished. After intentionally walking PEYTON LINDSAY, DEREK RUSTICH was hit by a pitch to plate run No. 2.

Sometimes big games produce unlikely heroes.

Enter Gardetto. By his own admission, Gardetto has struggled at the plate this year. But with the bases loaded and the count 1-1, Gardetto picked a good time to erupt. He rifled a bases clearing double down the left field line and when the dust cleared, the scoreboard read 5-1 Foothillers.

“I figured he was coming with the fastball,” Gardetto said. “I knew I hit it hard but I didn’t know it got by the fielder until I got waved to second base.”

“Tyler has continued to work hard and it paid off tonight,” said Foothillers coach CHAD WILLIAMS. “It couldn’t have happened to a better person than Tyler.”

“Clutch” is usually a term reserved for offense. But the most memorable moment of the evening came on defense.

Mira Mesa (21-15) had runners on first and third, trailing 5-1, with one out. On a short flare down the right-field line DANNY ROLF came darting in and made a sliding catch as chalk flew. In a flash, Rolf popped up, wheeled around and threw a laser to catcher Stratton, who skillfully blocked off the potential Marauder run. Inning over.

“It was the best catch of my career and it came on the biggest stage,” said Rolf. “I knew the runner was tagging and had speed, so I just came up throwing.”

That throw and the tag at home plate were just as impressive as the catch.

Sestak pitched the last 2 innings to seal the Foothillers’ 10th SDCIF championship.

“This is an amazing, amazing feeling,” Williams said. “I couldn’t be happier for these kids and the work they’ve put in. They deserve every bit of this.”

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