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Swinging for the far fences at Petco

04/19/2013, 10:58pm PDT
By John Maffei

Escondido, Point Loma, West Hills make the most of trips downtown with league wins.


La Jolla’s Tyson Youngs warms up before his at-bat against Point Loma, which posted a 1-0 win in one of eight prep games at Petco Park this week.

Fortune hasn’t smiled on the Escondido High baseball program for most of the last decade. But the gods appear to be smiling on the Cougars again under first-year coach Aaron Hoofard.

Friday, for the second night in a row, the Cougars scored in their final at-bat, this time on a Brett Barlow seventh-inning RBI double to beat Avocado East League rival Mission Hills 1-0 in Petco Park.

Thursday, under the lights at Escondido, Jordan Lewis’ seventh-inning solo homer helped the Cougars to a 2-1 win over Mission Hills.

Friday, Lewis was on the mound for Escondido.

The senior right-hander had a perfect game through four innings, finishing with a two-hitter. He struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime deal to play in Petco Park,” Lewis said. “To play where the big-leaguers play is really special. To win like this makes it even better.

“I had some butterflies at the start of the game, but you realize early that it’s the same game. I tried to stay within myself, pound the strike zone.”

Mission Hills had just one scoring threat.

Brandon Gullotti started the fifth with a double and was sacrificed to third. Drew Stetz then lifted a short fly ball to right where right fielder Cade Ukrainetz threw a strike to catcher Brayden McCoy.

McCoy dropped the throw, but Gullotti had stopped and was headed back to third where McCoy fired a strike to third baseman Barlow, who put the tag on Gullotti.

Barlow was in the spotlight at the plate, too.

“He threw me a one-strike changeup the at-bat before the seventh,” Barlow said. “So with one strike, I was looking for it again. It kind of floated in, and the at-bat just clicked.”

After seven straight losing seasons, things have clicked for Escondido. The Cougars are now 10-6 overall, 3-0 in league play and have won five games in a row and seven of the last eight. Since their last winning season in 2005, Escondido was 66-111 and 30-84 over the last four seasons.

Mission Hills slipped to 10-9, 2-4 in league play.

“This was a great three-game series between two good teams,” Hoofard said. “But my team is starting to believe.

“We made 13 errors in our first three games of the season. So we put the bats away and worked on fundamentals — pitching and defense. Now we’re winning with pitching, defense and timely hitting.

“We’re playing well, and we’re on a good run. I want the kids to enjoy this.”

In Friday’s first game, Josh Azar pitched a complete-game two-hitter as Point Loma edged La Jolla 1-0 in a Western League game. Chance Jimenez knocked in the game’s only run with a third-inning RBI single.

In the late game, West Hills beat Valhalla 8-1 in a Grossmont Hills League game. Right-hander David Hesslink threw a complete-game shutout for West Hills (11-7, 1-4). Chase Parsons had two RBIs while Johnny Espinosa, Alex Wagner, Hayden Schilling, Matt Lipscomb and Kris Aguilar drove in runs for West Hills.

Notes

•?Mission Hills assistant coach Neil Jamison has been part of five games in Petco Park — two as a pitcher at Long Beach State and two as part of the Lake Elsinore Storm. He pitched against UCLA and San Diego State in Petco as a member of the Long Beach State team.

•?Thursday’s St. Augustine victory was the 100th career win for coach Craig da Luz.

QUOTABLE

La Jolla pitcher Patrick Dayton: “What an amazing experience this was. I’m stoked to have played here. I couldn’t imagine the experience being better. The mound is by far the best I’ve ever seen — no holes, no hard spots, no soft spots. All in all, a great day.”

Escondido’s Brett Barlow: “This is so exciting. I was smiling the whole game.”

Escondido coach Aaron Hoofard: “What a great setting for a great ballgame between two good teams. It’s something the kids will always remember. Heck, it’s something the coaches will always remember. This place is so beautiful.”

PREPS AT PETCO

Saturday

Valley League: Del Norte (11-5) vs. Oceanside (7-10), 10 a.m.

Manzanita League: Calipatria (5-7) vs. Julian (9-1), 1 p.m.

Eastern League: Scripps Ranch vs. (6-11) vs. Patrick Henry (13-5), 4 p.m.

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