Grossmont Conference makes good showing in playoffs

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School is winding down, students are heading into finals and prom nights and graduations, and that means the last few fiery games of baseball are being played around San Diego County.

Playoffs have been fierce this season, but East County is holding its own with five teams heading into the fourth-round next week. Helix (No. 7) will play Cathedral Catholic (No. 2) in the Open Division on Tuesday, May 30, 2017. The Highlanders, who finished at the top of the Grossmont Hills league this season, were 9-3 in league and are 21-10 overall.

School is winding down, students are heading into finals and prom nights and graduations, and that means the last few fiery games of baseball are being played around San Diego County.

Playoffs have been fierce this season, but East County is holding its own with five teams heading into the fourth-round next week. Helix (No. 7) will play Cathedral Catholic (No. 2) in the Open Division on Tuesday, May 30, 2017. The Highlanders, who finished at the top of the Grossmont Hills league this season, were 9-3 in league and are 21-10 overall.

Tuesday will be a decisive afternoon for the two dozen teams who will be playing for their shot at the finals. In Division I, Grossmont (No. 4) will take on 1st-seeded St. Augustine, and Granite Hills (No. 7) will play 2nd-seeded Francis Parker for the second time. The Eagles beat the higher seeded team in an upset in the first round, following up their victory with another upset against the third-seed team, Scripps Ranch. 

After a rough season in league, 3-9, last year’s Division I champions are finally finding their swing, said head coach James Davis.

“We’ve been playing some solid baseball,” he said. “We’ve had a rough year but hopefully we’re getting hot at the right time.” 

Timely hitting and quality pitching, said Davis, are what has been helping the Eagles fly through playoffs, though facing Francis Parker’s Lancers a second time is daunting. The Lancers (20-7) only lost one game during league season and boast a high round draft pick on their roster.  

Granite Hills has a few of its own quality gloves this year as well, though no one has quite been able to fill the shoes left by Dillan Shrum and Andrew Brown, last year’s star pitchers. Shrum now plays for the University of Nevada and Brown was drafted by the Phillies. 

Still, standout seniors Sean Ross, Brady Joslyn and Josh Verdon have worked to maintain the Eagle’s traditionally high standard of play, Davis said, and the team has been faring well enough without a leader.

“It’s been a collective effort by the whole group to get the job done,” said Davis.

Their game at Francis Parker at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday will tell whether or not they still have what it takes to slug their way into a championship game. 

And while the Eagles are screaming in Lancer territory, Santana (No. 2) will be playing a home game against Montgomery (No. 3) for their shot at the Division II championship game. Steele Canyon also made the playoffs, but lost to Otay Ranch in the second round.

In Division IV, Monte Vista (No. 4) will be pair off against Chula Vista (No. 1).

The preponderance of predictably good baseball teams in East County certainly makes an impression this time of year. Grossmont Conference teams have raised the bar across the San Diego, said Davis.

“I think our conference is one of the best in the county,” he said, “if not in Southern California.

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