San Diego Prep Baseball : Donato Leads Valhalla Into First Place : Catcher Hangs Tough Behind the Plate, Then Has Key Hit in Win

Valhalla catcher Paul Donato learned a lesson Tuesday in how to take punishment. Twice in the first four innings, the 5-feet 10-inch, 175-pound junior was bowled over by a Santana runner on tag plays at the plate.

Donato also learned a lesson Tuesday in how give out some punishment--with his bat.

With Santana leading, 1-0, in the bottom of the fifth inning, Donato singled over a drawn-in infield with the bases loaded driving in two runs.

Valhalla scored five more times in the fifth and added three in the sixth to beat the Sultans, 10-1, in a Grossmont League game at Valhalla.


The victory gave Valhalla--ranked second in the county--sole possession of first place in league with a 4-0 record, 12-3 overall. Santana, the No. 1-ranked team in the county, is 3-1, 11-2.

“Look at him,” said Valhalla Coach John Marlow, referring to his somewhat battered catcher. “He may not look like much of a ballplayer, but he’s fundamentally sound. He’s a scrapper.”

Santana’s Dale Henson and Mike Hook will vouch for that. Henson was the first Sultan to make a run at Donato in the top of the second inning. Henson, trying to score from third base on a double steal, would have been an easy out had he not flattened Donato. The ball rolled free but Henson was ruled out and subsequently ejected from the game because of a high school baseball rule that says a runner may not attempt to run over a defensive player at any base.

Even more damaging to Santana was the play in the fourth inning when Hook was ejected for colliding with Donato while trying to score on Scott Papillon’s two-out single to right. Up to that point, Hook had pitched the Sultans into a 1-0 lead and had not allowed a hit.


“I wasn’t sure whether I should slide or not,” Hook said. “I kind of got caught in-between and I ended up running into him (Donato). I wasn’t so sure about getting ejected but the home plate umpire thought I should and his is the only decision that counts.”

With Hook out the game, Valhalla seemed to gain confidence. The Norsemen, ever aggressive on the base-paths, starting taking the game to Santana.

After Donato’s single, Valhalla got a two-run double from Ted Gilmore and RBI singles from Brett Strickland and John Ace to put the game out of reach in the fifth inning. Rob Sharp, who gave up six hits but only one run in the first four innings, also settled down, allowing just one hit the rest of the way to pick up the victory.

In other San Diego Section games: EASTERN LEAGUE TOURNAMENT


Jeff Gattis hit a two-run single in the second inning to give No. 7 Pt. Loma a 2-1 victory over No. 4 Serra in the final round of the round-robin Eastern League tournament at Serra Tuesday.

Bob “Bubba” Newton (1-0) allowed four hits in five innings. Chris Redding gave up one hit in the last two innings for the Pointers (11-3).

The Conquistadors (12-4) scored in the bottom of the second when Deven Moran walked, stole second and scored on Chuck Pearce’s single. Ron Lardicabal took the loss. GROSSMONT

Helix 7, El Cajon 1--The Highlanders took advantage of three consecutive walks in the second off starter Joey Kaewpalug to score three runs in the inning. Danny Tiumalu’s two-run single highlighted the inning for Helix (2-2, 4-8). Starter Damon Luban (3-1) tossed a three-hitter in 6 innings. The Braves are 1-4 and 1-7.


Granite Hills 9, Monte Vista 2--Starter Aaron Petrich (2-1) struck out seven in 5 innings to earn the win. Don Carroll was 2 for 4 with three RBIs for the Eagles (2-2, 6-6). Monte Vista is 0-5 and 4-9. METRO

Bonita Vista 7, Coronado 1--David Woodhouse (4-0) struck out six, and gave up one unearned run and four hits in 5 innings as the No. 9 Barons beat the host Islanders. Woodhouse also was 2 for 4. Rob Savarese had a single and his first homer, a solo shot in the second to give Bonita Vista (2-1, 10-5) a 1-0 lead.

Chula Vista 4, Southwest 3 (9 innings)--Southwest pitcher Pete Silva, fielding a sacrifice bunt by Chula Vista’s Jose Sosa, overthrew first base to allow Rick Alonzo to score from third with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Spartans (2-1, 6-7) the win.

Hilltop 16, Marian 8--Don Diffenbaugh was 4 for 5 with four RBIs and David Mossman was 3 for 5 with three RBIs to lead the Lancers (1-3, 4-6). Hilltop had 17 hits. Mark Cisneros and Rick Millan each belted two-run homers for Marian (1-2, 3-10).


Montgomery 7, Mar Vista 2--The Mariners committed seven errors, including three on pickoff attempts by starter Mike McCormick. Daryl Crawford was 2 for 4, including a solo homer in the second, to lead Montgomery (3-0, 10-3). Israel Velasquez (3-0) went the distance for the win. McCormick took the loss for the Mariners (1-2, 5-6).

Sweetwater 10, Castle Park 7 (9 innings)--With the bases loaded in the ninth, Augie Ruiz hit a Henry Monreal pitch over the center-field wall, but Ruiz passed a runner on the bases. Three runs scored, giving the Red Devils the come-from-behind win, and Ruiz was credited with a single. CITY WESTERN

University 2, Mission Bay 1--Mike Eggleton pitched a complete-game four-hitter to lead the Dons (2-3, 6-8) past the No. 6-ranked Buccaneers (3-2, 10-5) at University. Rene Acosta’s sacrifice fly in the fourth inning snapped a 1-1 tie and handed Mission Bay its second loss in as many days. Mission Bay was upset by La Jolla Monday. NONLEAGUE

Patrick Henry 1, Morse 0--Eric Watkins, making his first start of the year, allowed three hits and two walks to lead the Patriots (9-3) past the Tigers (7-7) at Patrick Henry.