Panthers Topple Titans, Teams Play Again In CIF Semis
Shawn Hobson…VISTA – The Vista High School baseball is one win away from reaching the CIF title game.
The No. 2-seeded Panthers have been taking care of business on their home field during the CIF San Diego Division I postseason. They shut out La Jolla 17-0 in their first game of the tourney on May 25. Then on Friday, Vista rallied to beat Poway 12-9.
Vista senior catcher Korey Lee smashed a bases-loaded triple in the fourth inning, giving the Panthers a lead that would not be relinquished. Lee went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a triple, four RBIs and two runs scored against the Titans.
Photos by Shawn Hobson
“Korey is a stud. He’s been one of our best players all year,” Vista coach Ricky Imperiali said. “What he does behind the plate, he changes the high school game in ways it’s never been changed.”
Lee caught the entire game, in addition to being the most productive hitter for the Panthers (26-6). He bats fourth in the lineup.
“They are a great team, but we had their number,” Lee said. “Andrew Geisler came and pitched strong in the start, and then Nick Longoria came in and shut it down. He always does that well. Ivan Luna then came in and did his thing like always.”
Vista junior pitcher Longoria earned the win after relieving starting pitcher Geisler, who threw 3⅔ innings. Luna pitched 1⅓ innings, allowing one run in the seventh.
Vista sophomore Andre Schweizer was 2-for-4 with a run scored, and junior Ian Hodges went 1-for-1 with a walk against the Titans.
Despite scoring fewer runs, the visiting Titans outhit the Panthers 14-11.
“We walked too many guys. We hit a few guys with pitches, and we left the bases loaded four times today,” Poway coach Bob Parry said. “I told guys. We were going to have to play a solid game to beat them.”
Poway pitchers combined to walk six, and they hit three batters with pitches. The Titans left 12 runners on base. Poway did score the first runs of the game with the first two batters. Blake Wagenseller singled and Clayton Zollmann doubled. Both scored on a sacrifice flies.
Vista will host No. 3-seeded Poway again Tuesday, May 31 at 3:30 p.m. The Titans (19-12) eliminated La Jolla 5-2 on Saturday to earn a rematch with Vista. The Panthers will advance to the CIF championship game with a win, while the defending CIF-SDS Division champions must beat Vista twice to advance. The Titans faced similar circumstances last season before winning the title.
“It’s not impossible, but the way Vista plays a lot of things will have to go in our favor,” Parry said.
Poway faced elimination last season before winning its last five tournament games, capturing the CIF title. The Titans hope to repeat the feat, while the Panthers are up for the challenge.
“Like my dad always used to say ‘Anything can happen. We all put our pants on one leg at a time,’ but I still like our chances at home,” Imperiali said. “We will have to lose twice at home. We’ll be ready to go.”
If Poway should beat Vista on Tuesday, the two teams will play again Wednesday at Vista. The winner of the CIF-SDS Division I lower bracket advances to the winner-take-all title game to be played at the University of San Diego on Friday, June 3 against either Torrey Pines or Granite Hills.
“The goal is to get to USD and play under the lights,” Lee said. “It’s the one last thing we want to do. I’m confident in my team and my brothers.”
Poway…200 312 1..–….9..14..0
Vista…..121 620 x..–…12..11..0
Alex Blaszyk, Javier Olivo (3), Hayden Salverda (4), DJ Ackley (7) and Clayton Zollmann. Andrew Geisler, Nick Longoria (4), Ivan Luna (6) and Korey Lee. W – Longoria. L – Olivo. 2B – Zollmann-2 (P), Matt Ornelia (V), Lee (V) -2, Hodges (V). 3B – Kevin Bristow (P), Ryan Gagliano (P), Lee (V).