SAN MARCOS In this age of technology, where every stat is recorded, the Avocado East League baseball champion will be determined by a coin flip.
Mission Hills High made that necessary by scoring an 8-5 win over crosstown rival San Marcos on Thursday, forcing a three-way tie atop the league standings among San Marcos, Escondido and San Dieguito, all at 7-5.
With three league tiebreakers in place, the teams are at a stalemate after examining the first two. That forces the third tiebreaker — the coin flip.
All three teams will be considered champions, but it’s important to designate one champ for playoff seeding because the champion is guaranteed a home playoff game.
The coin flip among the three principals or athletic directors will be sometime today.
“We could have made this a lot easier, but we didn’t do what we had to do,” said San Marcos coach Jeff Dufek, who saw his team capture a league championship for the first time in 17 seasons. “Mission Hills was better than us today.
“It was a great battle in what is really a good rivalry. There was a good atmosphere in the park, a playoff atmosphere. That’s going to help both teams. But we faced a good pitcher, a guy with a big, overhand curve.”
Roberto Johnson, the ace of the Mission Hills staff, gave up eight hits but walked only one, struck out six and was tough down the stretch, getting six of the last seven hitters, striking out three.
“Roberto has had a marvelous year,” said Mission Hills coach Ken Putnam. “I’m really proud of him.”
Offensively, first baseman Tony Stanich, one of the stalwarts on Mission Hills’ San Diego Section championship basketball team, was 3-for-4 with a home run, double and three RBIs, capping a week in which he was 8-for-11 with six RBIs, a home run, a triple and three doubles. His home run in the middle of a four-run fourth was the blow that seemed to take the air out of San Marcos.
Stanich has been struggling the past few weeks, so Putnam moved him from the fifth spot in the batting order to seventh, “so he’d see more fastballs,” the coach said.
“I got a fastball, up and in, and my eyes got real big,” Stanich said of his home run that landed on San Marcos Boulevard, far behind the high left-field fence on the Knights campus.
“This game was a big deal. Not only did we beat our crosstown rival, but we cost them a solo championship, and we won the three-game series. And it was big for us because it gives us some momentum going into the playoffs.”
San Marcos is 14-14 overall and should be one of the 12 teams in the Division II playoffs. If the Knights don’t win the coin flip, however, they probably won’t get a home game.
Mission Hills at 15-13 should join San Marcos in the Division II playoffs and could get a higher seed based on record and beating San Marcos twice.
San Dieguito (23-6) should be the No. 1 seed in Division III. Escondido (14-11) could be the third seed in Division III.