2013 Baseball Preview

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Granite Hills and El Capitan high schools seek to defend Grossmont Conference baseball titles when the 2013 season opens during the first week of March.

Granite Hills and Helix posted identical 21-11 overall records, but the Eagles nipped the Highlanders by a single game to capture the Grossmont Hills League pennant. However, the biggest question is how Grossmont, which posted seven consecutive 20-win seasons (2004-11), can bounce back from its poorest season in three decades.

Granite Hills and El Capitan high schools seek to defend Grossmont Conference baseball titles when the 2013 season opens during the first week of March.

Granite Hills and Helix posted identical 21-11 overall records, but the Eagles nipped the Highlanders by a single game to capture the Grossmont Hills League pennant. However, the biggest question is how Grossmont, which posted seven consecutive 20-win seasons (2004-11), can bounce back from its poorest season in three decades.

Meanwhile, El Capitan is the only champion ever known by the Grossmont Valley League since re-alignment in 2009. However, the Vaqueros have new management following the retirement of Steve Vickery. Thus, it will be up to a bunch of ball clubs hovering around the 500 plateaus — Monte Vista, Santana and Mount Miguel — to step in to challenge for the pennant.

Among the private schools, Christian remains a force in Division IV despite participating in the Eastern League, a circuit with otherwise all large-enrollment public schools. Foothills Christian owns four straight upper-division finishes (three runner-up placements), figuring to continue to knock the door for the Knights' first-ever league crown.

Private Schools

Christian: The Patriots will be underdogs in the Central League after finishing 16-17 a year ago. Top returners include senior catcher A.J. Gregorovic, who batted .404 with 21 RBI a year ago. Stephen Johnston is the top pitcher, who posted a 4-6 record with two saves and a 2.96 ERA.

Foothills Christian: Senior double threat Trevor Tinney is the cornerstone of the Knights. He batted .425 and stole 22 bases as a junior. On the hill his record was 2-3 with a 2.27 ERA.
Grossmont Valley League

El Cajon Valley: The annual rebuilding process continues for the Braves as second year coach Travis Udvarhelyi keeps looking for ways to improve El Cajon Valley’s 1-23 record from a year ago.

El Capitan: Jordan Abruzzo is following a legend in 600 game winner Steve Vickery this season. It will definitely be an uphill climb as the majority of the Vaqueros’ talent has graduated. Third baseman-catcher Eric Lozano is the top returner.

Monte Vista: A change in coaches always leaves question marks as Matt Atkinson, a Monarchs alum, takes over at the helm. Paul O’Connor, a senior pitcher-third baseman, is one of the top players in the league. But will he be enough to allow the Monarchs to challenge for the title?

Mount Miguel: Pitcher-outfielder Brad Moreno leads the Matadors into contention for the league title. Versatile Dominic Sawyer, a pitcher-infielder, also figures in the plans.

Santana: Pitchers Alan Strong and Cory Conner head up a rebuilding pitching staff for the Sultans, who finished 11-14-2 a year ago. Outfielder Tyler Browning will lead the offense.

Grossmont Hills League

Granite Hills: Perennial power Granite Hills should be loaded this season as they return 16 players from last year’s 21-11 team. This talent laden roster, which should bring the Eagles a league title, is led by pitcher-outfielder Trenton Brooks, centerfielder Robert Bostedt, shortstop Noah Cummings, outfielder Josh Rose, pitcher Sean Walker, utility standout Jason Rose and catcher Tyler Hopper. They might be the best team in the San Diego Section.

Grossmont: Coming off an unexpected 20-game losing streak, the Foothillers should stop the fall this season. First year coach Chad Williams sure hopes that’s the case.

Helix: Ray Peterson (.381, four home runs, 22 RBI and 12 stolen bases) leads the Highlanders after last year’s 21-11 season. Frankie Nunez figures to contribute as a pitcher and a shortstop, while George Garcia should supply plenty of punch.

Steele Canyon: Eleven Cougars return from last year’s 17-14 season. Tanner Perry (.439, 22 RBI) is the ringleader of a Steele Canyon squad that could surprise.

Valhalla: Paced by Michigan-bound shortstop-pitcher Ramsey Romano (.333, 3-3, 4.00 ERA, 5 saves), the Norsemen hope to make a run for the title. Utility man Jordan Qsar, who also plays basketball, figures to make an impact, as does junior southpaw pitcher Michael Coombs.

West Hills: The Wolf Pack introduces a new coach in Cordell Hipolito. The Pack returns 11 players from last year’s 18-15 team. This is a team filled with versatile players led by infielder Frank Mello (.337).

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