Grossmont back-to-back baseball champs

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When Grossmont senior Tyler Parent stepped into the batter’s box in the bottom of the sixth inning of Friday’s CIF San Diego Section Division I baseball championship, a pair of young Madison fans standing on the deck above the Foothillers’ bullpen debated what would happen next.

“Just look at him,” said a boy who could not have been older than 12. “There’s no way he’s going to hit it.”

The other kid disagreed.

“No, he’s going to ground out to third to force a double play,” he said.

When Grossmont senior Tyler Parent stepped into the batter’s box in the bottom of the sixth inning of Friday’s CIF San Diego Section Division I baseball championship, a pair of young Madison fans standing on the deck above the Foothillers’ bullpen debated what would happen next.

“Just look at him,” said a boy who could not have been older than 12. “There’s no way he’s going to hit it.”

The other kid disagreed.

“No, he’s going to ground out to third to force a double play,” he said.

Parent did not need to hear the kids to know what was at stake. Grossmont was back at University of San Diego’s Fowler Park to defend last year’s Division I title. The bases were loaded with one out in a 2-2 game.

Parent worked a full count against Madison junior right-handed pitcher Chase Schilling and hit a shot to right-center field.

“As soon as I hit it, I kinda thought it was down,” Parent said. “But once I saw the outfielder turned his back to the ball I knew that it was going to be a double.”

All three runners scored to put the Foothillers ahead 5-2. Freshman Isaiah Gomez then knocked in Parent with an RBI triple to reach the final score of 6-2.

Unlike the little Madison commentators, Grossmont head coach Jordan Abruzzo said he was not surprised Parent stepped up.

“(Parent is) a competitor,” Abruzzo said. “He’s an outstanding cornhole player, and anything that he does he competes, so I knew 100 percent that Tyler was going to come through there.”

Maybe even less surprising was junior right-handed pitcher Jack Hyde’s performance.

Hyde got his ninth win this season after striking out four with three hits allowed and a walk in four scoreless innings of relief, capping a playoff run in which he allowed just one earned run in 30 innings spread across four appearances.

Hyde normally starts, but Abruzzo said he was used as a reliever. CIF rules limit players to 10 innings pitched in a calendar week, and Hyde threw six innings in Tuesday’s win over Carlsbad.

“We were just trying to get to the fourth there with a chance to win to get him in and he did a great job competing and got in his groove and really pitched well for us,” Abruzzo said.

The Foothillers made it to the fourth trailing 2-1. Senior Austin Odom led off the bottom of the first with a triple scored on a single by sophomore Giovanni Giganti to make it 1-0, and Madison responded by scoring two runs in the top of the third.

In the bottom of the fifth, Odom tied it with RBI single and stole second with two outs. Odom then took a big lead, only to be hit in the face by the ball when he dove back into second to avoid the pickoff attempt. He stayed in the game after being checked out by the trainers, finishing 3-4 at the plate.

Leaving in the last game of his high school career was simply not an option, said Odom.

“It hurt a bit, I’m not gonna lie,” he said, “but I wasn’t coming out. There’s no chance I’m coming out.”

CIF doesn’t hold state playoffs for baseball, so Grossmont’s season ends with its second straight section title. Abruzzo said it is a good way to go out.

“This is like a bittersweet thing because you win a championship and then it’s over,” Abruzzo said. “The seniors are gone and I don’t get to coach them anymore.”

It was clear when Parent took his position at third base in the top of the seventh and turned to talk to the third-base umpire with a wide grin that the magnitude of the play was on his mind.

“I’m never going to have a bigger hit in my life,” Parent said.

The umpire could not help but smile back.

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