Junior leads Eastlake to tourney title
5:25 p.m. April 9, 2016
CHULA VISTA — On a team that prides itself on a sense of family, Casey Schmitt had one of the best individual days of the season.
Eastlake’s junior third baseman had four hits Saturday, including a double and a solo home run leading off the sixth inning.
Committed to San Diego State, Schmitt made a great diving stop and a rocket throw across the diamond to start the bottom of the sixth.
To make his contribution complete, Schmitt entered in relief of left-hander Julian Escobedo with two runners on base and two outs in the sixth.
Schmitt recorded the final out of that inning, then struck out two in the seventh to preserve a 3-0 Titans win over Chula Vista in the championship game of the John Baumgarten Tournament at Mater Dei Catholic.
The No. 7-ranked Titans improved to 12-3 and have won 10 of their last 11 games since a loss to Rancho Bernardo in the Lions Tournament.
“I’m feeling a lot better at the plate,” said Schmitt, who had a two-run homer Friday against Castle Park to propel Eastlake into the title game. “I’ve been doing a lot of extra work in the cages with the coaches. And it’s paying off.
“But every guy on the team puts in extra work. There isn’t one selfish guy on this team.”
Schmitt said he’s a hitter first and pitcher second.
Still, his fastball overpowered the Spartans (6-11), touching 91 mph.
“Casey has good stuff,” said Escobedo, who also hits leadoff and is headed to San Diego State. “We really stress pitching ahead in the count.
“I had a real good curve today, and was pitching down in the zone.
“This team listens to the coaches. We stick together. We grind it out.
“And we’re getting better and better.”
Escobedo pitched the first 52/3 innings, allowing three hits — all singles — and striking out eight.
“Escobedo was very good,” Chula Vista coach Jim Westlund said. “And they have a guy go 4-for-4.
“But I’m really happy with the way we played.
“We were struggling a little before the tournament, but won five games to get to the championship, including Bonita Vista on Friday.
“No one likes to lose, but we made plays and got a well-pitched game.”
Left-hander Ricky Yoquigua allowed just four singles through the first five innings.
Schmitt touched him for the homer to start the sixth. And when Yoquigua walked the next batter, Westlund called for a reliever.
Eastlake scored two more runs on two bunt singles, an error and a balk.
“This team has great chemistry,” said Eastlake coach David Gallegos. “And we’re young with only one senior starter and five sophomores who play a lot.
“And our best pitcher (San Diego State-bound Tre Brown) is just starting to work himself back in after some soreness.
“These guys work as a group, they eat as a group.
“We’re starting to jell, and it feels good.”