When Dennis Pugh, Mission Bay High’s baseball coach, arrived at the field Monday morning for the start of the 39th Lions/Mike Morrow tournament, he discovered that the concession stand had been broken into and its contents stolen.
Before he left that evening, the Buccaneers had been ambushed by tiny Francis Parker, 9-7. Pugh called it the worst day of his 10 years of coaching at Mission Bay.
By Thursday, things had turned around--and back to normal--as Mission Bay defeated Escondido, 6-4, for the A Division championship at Mission Bay.
Mission Bay defeated Escondido, 16-4, in last year’s Lions final. The Bucs have won four championships in eight years.
Granite Hills also won its fourth Lions title and second in three years, defeating Patrick Henry, 6-5, in the AAA Division. In AA, Castle Park edged Helix, 3-2, to win its first Lions championship.
“We went from lows to highs,” Pugh said. “After Monday’s game, it was an all-time low for me. We battled back though. That’s the sign of a good team.”
And Mission Bay is a good team. Six starters return for the defending section 2-A champion, although pitcher Sean Rees, the 1988 county player of the year, has gone on to Arizona State.
“These kids are together,” he said. “This is the best defensive team I’ve had in years.”
Against Escondido, Mission Bay was nearly flawless in the field. The Cougars, on the other hand, committed three errors, each contributing to a Mission Bay run.
After Sean Darrock’s check-swing RBI double gave Mission Bay a 1-0 lead after one inning, the Bucs got two unearned runs in the second. Their third unearned run in the fifth put them ahead, 6-2.
“We just had a down game defensively,” said Bill Kutzner, Escondido’s coach.
Escondido got its runs on two doubles in the second, two singles in the third, a home run by Dan Marshall in the fifth and two singles in the seventh.
“They don’t beat themselves,” Kutzner said. “And they’ve had a certain amount of success over the years that breeds confidence.”
After losing Monday to Parker, Mission Bay came back to win four games, including Thursday morning’s 8-2 victory over St. Augustine (5-5) in a semifinal. J.T. Thomas (3-1) pitched a two-hitter against the Saints. Brandon Farley (three hits) and Tony Lennan (home run) led Mission Bay’s 14-hit attack.
Pat Betancourt collected five hits in the two games.
Escondido had a little tougher time in its 7-6 semifinal victory over Crawford. With two singles, a double, a triple and a two-run home run by Jim McCarthy in the top of the ninth, Escondido built a 7-3 lead.
Crawford (8-3), which had scored two in the bottom of the seventh to send the game to extra innings, rallied in the bottom of the ninth but managed just three runs.
Granite Hills’ Shane Spencer hit a two-run home run in the sixth to tie Patrick Henry. Then in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded and no outs, Jason Gandy’s ground ball was misplayed by Henry, and Jeff Weymire scored the winning run.
Weymire (2-0) pitched the seventh for the victory. Chris Regan (2-0), who pitched the final five innings for the victory in the Patriots’ 11-5 semifinal victory over San Dieguito, pitched four innings and was the loser in the final. Granite Hills improved to 8-3. Patrick Henry is 7-6.
Granite Hills advanced to the final by shutting out Point Loma, 10-0. Sophomore Ryan O’Coyne (3-1) pitched a three-hitter, striking out 11. The Eagles’ Brian Giles went four for four, including a double, a homer and three RBIs. Spencer went three for three with two doubles and a home run.
In its semifinal, Patrick Henry’s Shannon Webb went three for four with four RBIs and Tony Maturani hit a two-run homer. Danny Monreal had three hits for San Dieguito (8-4).
Castle Park’s regular catcher, Conrad Ganitano, pitched five innings, and Juan Beltran came on in relief to lead the Trojans past Helix.
Castle Park won despite a depleted roster. The Trojans were scheduled to play in a tournament at Las Vegas beginning late Thursday, so Coach Bob Korzep sent some of his regulars and a few junior varsity players on to Nevada.