San Diego Section Open Division baseball championship
San Diego State-bound right-hander Ricky Tibbett — the ace of the Eastlake pitching staff — had three innings remaining after throwing a complete game against Torrey Pines in the playoffs on Tuesday.
So Eastlake coach David Gallegos had a decision.
Does he start Tibbett, who is 12-1 on the season, against Poway in Saturday night’s San Diego Section Open Division championship game at San Diego State? Or does he use Tibbett in relief?
“My No. 2 pitcher (Ray Cebulski) is a sophomore, a very good sophomore, but still a sophomore,” Gallegos said. “So the plan was to start with Ricky, get a lead, then turn it over to Ray. Maybe take a little pressure off him. Let him pitch with a lead.”
And that’s exactly what happened.
Top-seeded Eastlake scored four times in the first inning in front of a large, but not capacity crowd at Tony Gwynn Stadium. Tibbett threw three scoreless innings, and Eastlake beat Poway 5-3.
Keoni Cavaco got Eastlake (26-4-1), ranked No. 17 in the state, started in the first inning against Dylan Moran with a first-pitch single.
Moran, who was 6-1 with a 1.18 ERA coming into the game, is Poway’s No. 2 starter behind Ivran Romero, who is 9-1.
But Romero threw 41/3 innings Tuesday in a win over Helix.
Cavaco then stole second and went to third on Jake Cekander’s sacrifice.
Iran Fuentes walked, and Cavaco scored on an error. Ethan Cashetta singled in Fuentes. Nico Villarelli’s double into the right-field corner scored two.
Fuentes homered in the third to give Eastlake a 5-0 lead.
“This was personal,” said Cavaco, who threw a perfect seventh inning, throwing 92-93 mph, to get the save. “They knocked us out last year.
“We knew it would be big to get an early lead, but four in the first was huge.”
Cavaco, a third baseman who is projected to be a first-round pick in the MLB Draft on June 3, later had an infield hit and flashed a plus arm in the first inning, gunning down Romero at first. Cavaco also made a fine diving stop on Kyle Nevin’s bid for a hit in the third inning, throwing to second to get a force out.
Cebluski entered the game in the fourth and walked Trevor Tishenkel, the first hitter he faced. Quinn Johnson followed with an RBI double and Robby Williams slugged a long homer to left to make it 5-3.
Cebluski then settled down, striking out the next two hitters and making a nice play on Taylor Johnson’s bid for a bunt base hit. He got the side in order in the fifth on three fly balls, and got the first two hitters in the sixth before Williams’infield single. Cebluski got the next hitter on a comebacker.
“Getting that lead took the pressure off Ray,” Tibbett said. “I’m so happy for him.
“This is the best feeling ever.”
Third-seeded Poway (26-6), ranked No. 18 in the state, was in the title game for the second straight year, taking two of three from Eastlake in last year’s playoffs, beating Eastlake 5-4 in 10 innings in the semifinals.
Poway then lost to Torrey Pines 2-1 in 10 innings in the championship game at USD.
“These were two very athletic teams,” said Poway coach Bob Parry. “Everyone can run. There are great arms everywhere.
“The pitchers throw had and the breaking stuff is great.
“We lost by two, but in my mind it was closer than that.”