LAKE ELSINORE – The half way point for the local high school baseball teams has come and gone and there is a dogfight brewing in the Southwestern League. Vista Murrieta (13-4, 7-1) is the clear front runner with their only loss in league coming from the second place Chaparral Pumas (10-8, 4-3), but it’s the middle of the pack that are fighting it out, as the Rams, Nighthawks and Golden Bears keep exchanging wins and losses at every turn.
The early games last week leading into the ninth annual Southwestern League Triple Header at the Diamond in Lake Elsinore had Murrieta Mesa and Temecula Valley meeting for the final time this season, as well as Vista Murrieta facing Murrieta Valley and Great Oak squaring off against Chaparral.
Murrieta Mesa (6-17, 3-5) headed into their second match-up of the season against the Golden Bears with a new face on the mound behind sophomore Brant Voth, who allowed just three hits against Temecula Valley (11-7-1, 3-4).
The Golden Bears captured the lead in the first inning with one out when Austin Baltierra drove in the only run of the game after he doubled. Murrieta Mesa took the lead for good with two runs in the bottom of the first inning when senior third baseman, Kiel Palm, homered off Baltierra, driving in two runs.
Voth earned the win for Murrieta Mesa Rams Varsity tossing all seven innings, allowing one run, three hits and striking out six. Baltierra took the loss for Temecula Valley. He pitched five and two-thirds innings, allowing two runs, seven hits, striking out six and walking one.
The Rams collected seven hits in the game, Cameron Skinner and Kevin Gameros each collected two hits to lead Murrieta Mesa.
Great Oak (9-10, 2-5) got their second win of league after defeating Chaparral 3-1. Cameron Mabee earned the win for the Wolfpack. He tossed five and two-thirds innings, surrendering one run, four hits and struck out five batters. Hayden Johns took the loss for Chaparral. He went seven innings, surrendering three runs, 10 hits, striking out four and walking zero.
In the other early game last week the Vista Murrieta Broncos jumped out to an early lead over Murrieta Valley and took home an 8-2 victory. Jake Moberg earned the win for Broncos. He went three innings, surrendering two runs, four hits and struck out one batter. Lucas Gonzalez also threw two innings as he helped the Broncos finish off the game. Drew D’Ambre took the loss for Murrieta Valley after only going two innings, surrendering six runs, three hits and striking out three. Joey Hodapp, Nick Mosiello, and Mitchell Moralez each collected multiple hits for the Broncos in their win.
The second game of the week and the final in the three games each team would have to face off against each other this season was held at the Diamond in Lake Elsinore for the ninth straight year in the annual Southwestern league Triple Header.
Though they had the early game, it would be a long day for the Great Oak Wolfpack, falling to Chaparral 5-0. Chaparral scored four runs in the sixth inning thanks to a single by Parker Chase and a double by Matthew Happ.
Jesse Morales earned the win for Chaparral (10-9, 4-3). Morales tossed six innings, surrendering zero runs, six hits and struck out two batters. Trent Topping took the loss for Wolfpack. He threw five innings, allowed one run, six hits, and struck out two batters as well. Worth Planer went 2-for-3 at the plate to lead the Wolfpack in hits. Chaparral collected eight hits. Chase, Cole Saenz, and Happ each collected multiple hits for Chaparral.
The afternoon game consisted of the Vista Murrieta Broncos taking down Murrieta Valley, this time with a 2-0 victory. The Broncos didn’t take the lead until later in the game when Jake Moberg drove in two when he tripled in the fifth inning. Brandon Ross earned the win for Broncos after he tossed five and a third innings, surrendering zero runs, one hit and struck out five. Andrew Mosiello recorded the last five outs to earn the save for Broncos. Blake Timm took the loss for Murrieta Valley. Timm went seven innings, gave up two runs, five hits and struck out five.
Mitchell Moralez, Moberg, Brandon Luna, Mason Campbell and Joey Hodapp each collected one hit to lead Broncos. Downen led Murrieta Valley with one hit in two at bats.
In the final game of the night, despite winning the best of three game series, the Murrieta Mesa Rams watched the game slip away early and couldn’t recover in a 5-1 loss to Temecula Valley. Murrieta Mesa scored one run when Ian Byers doubled with two outs in the first inning, but Temecula Valley countered that same inning when Austin Baltierra singled off Tony Carreon, driving in two runs. Carreon induced McKinney to hit into a fielder’s choice, but one run scored.
Ethan Clough earned the win for Temecula Valley with his six innings on the mound, surrendering one run, four hits, striking out seven and walking none. Carreon took the loss for Murrieta Mesa Rams Varsity. He tossed five innings, allowing three runs, four hits and struck out four.
Byers, Brant Voth, Kevin Gameros, and Anthony Salcedo each collected one hit to lead Murrieta Mesa. Baltierra led Temecula Valley with two runs batted in. He went 2-for-4 on the day.
Murrieta Mesa has this week off from games as Vista Murrieta is competing in the famed Boras Classic, Temecula Valley will face Great Oak and Murrieta Valley will take on Chaparral. Game times are set for 3:30 p.m.