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HIGH SCHOOL ROUNDUP : Gil Masters Montgomery for Castle Park

Castle Park’s Benji Gil didn’t seem overly impressed with his four-hit, 3-0 victory over Montgomery High Thursday.

He rated it just his third-best performance this season--behind a one-hit, 5-0 victory over Carlsbad and a two-hit, 1-0 decision against Monte Vista.

It is easy to see why Gil, a junior right-hander, leads the county in earned-run average at 0.55.

In overpowering co-Metro Conference champion Montgomery, Gil (6-3) carried a no-hitter into the sixth before allowing four singles in the final two innings. He also struck out eight, giving him 89 for the season.

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But those weren’t the impressive numbers.

Montgomery managed to “hit” just two balls to the left side of the field. The first didn’t occur until the fourth inning. It was a check-swing blooper that diving shortstop Raul Molina snared over his head as it headed for left field. The other was a weak grounder to Molina.

A third baseman, left fielder and center fielder essentially were of no use to Gil.

“He showed us why he’s the best,” Montgomery Coach Manuel Hermosillo said. “That’s why he’s got that oh-five-something ERA.”

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Said Kiko Palacios, Castle Park’s catcher: “There are times he’s thrown better pitches and had to work less.”

Montgomery’s Mike Arroyo (5-4) was effective as well. He allowed only five singles, but three came in a three-run fifth with two outs.

After two singles and a hit-by-pitch (Gil), Palacios, a sophomore hitting .447, lined a two-run single to left that was misplayed and thrown around enough for Gil to score all the way from first.

Despite the loss, Montgomery completed one of the greatest turnarounds in the 30-year history of the San Diego Section.

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The Aztecs finished 10th in the 10-team Metro last year. This year, with six of eight Metro teams playing .500 or better on the field (Hilltop had to forfeit 17 games), Montgomery is 19-8 and 11-3. Southwest, a 6-5 winner over Mar Vista, is 13-12, 11-3, Castle Park (19-10, 8-4) finished third.

Montgomery and Southwest will play today at Hilltop High at 3 p.m. to determine the league’s top seeding for the 3-A playoffs. The loser is also assured a playoff spot, and Castle Park, playing its best baseball of the season, probably wrapped up one of eight at-large berths in the 16-team draw.


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