Defying odds, Falcons take Div. II regional baseball title in rout

Torrey Pines players pose after beating Etiwanda for the Division II SoCal baseball title.
(Larry Jackal)

With an offense that had scored two runs in a pair of playoff wins, a pitching staff depleted by the top two arms in the rotation deciding not to finish the season and facing No. 1-seeded Etiwanda after graduation Friday night, June 3, and a two-hour bus ride, the Torrey Pines High baseball team faced long odds for taking home a Division II Southern California championship.

So all the No. 2-seeded Falcons did Saturday, June 4, was pound out 16 hits, score 19 runs and run-rule Etiwanda 19-8.

Southern California Prep Baseball Championships

Division II
Torrey Pines 19, Etiwanda 8

“What a ride!” said Falcons coach Tommy Simis. “That’s the best our offense has produced all season. We pieced together the pitching, and the offense was able to grind out every at-bat.

“There were times in that game where I couldn’t breathe.”

Etiwanda (27-9), which had won 10 games in a row and scored 18 runs in two SoCal games, jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Only a nifty 6-4-3 double play started by Thomas Maher kept a two-run second inning from blowing up into five, six or seven.

“Maybe the turning point in the game,” Simis said.

Torrey Pines answered with five runs in the top of the third, six in the fourth, two in the fifth and six in the sixth to put a bow on the win.

Every starter in the Falcons (23-12) lineup had an RBI. Catcher Junior Barajas had four RBIs, including a two-run homer in the fifth.

“It was a completely different mindset today,” Barajas said. “We were determined to flip the scoring thing around. And once we got it going, we wanted to pour it on because Etiwanda is a really good team. We were able to grind this out, and it feels awesome.”

First baseman Ryan Jackel had a pair of hits, walked, scored twice and drove in two.

“We had been pitching so well, maybe the offense got a little lazy,” Jackel said of a pair of 1-0 SoCal wins.

“We knew we were in for a battle today. We came up short in our CIF playoffs (losing in the Open Division semifinals). People are going to be shocked to hear we won a SoCal title.”

Ryan Flather had three hits and four RBIs for the Falcons. AJ Guiliana had three hits, including a double and triple, and drove in a run. Burke Stratton drove in two and Liam Kelly scored four times hitting out of the ninth spot in the lineup.

On the mound, Simis started Dougie Jutronich, then went with Reece Dixon (who got the win), JV callup Ryan Babcock and Tuesday’s starter Grayson Bannano closing in the sixth.

“Just like we drew it up,” Simis said. “What a great effort by the kids and my coaching staff.”

The Southern California Regionals are in their second year with an eye on a State Championship down the road. La Costa Canyon, Granite Hills, and West Hills all won championships last season.

“Feels really good to represent San Diego,” Simis said. “These kids can hold their heads high, that’s for sure.”