Going Downtown

 

The Grossmont Griffins baseball team (17-1) has an excellent opportunity to extend its two-game lead in the Pacific Coast Conference Standings by going for their second consecutive sweep in a three-game series against bitter rival, San Diego City College (7-8).

Stepping up to the mound for Coach Abshier in game one was trusted arm, Tim Holdagrafer in his 10th start of the year. Holdagrafer currently posts an ERA of 2.86 with 52 strikeouts over 56 and two-thirds innings.

Looking to improve from his last start in which he allowed six runs in five innings against San Diego Mesa, Holdagrafer did that and more. The freshman put a smile on his coach’s face by pitching into the eighth inning and only allowing one runner to cross the plate for the City Knights. Holdagrafer would end up getting his fifth win of the year and sending six batters back to the dugout shaking their heads.

This series was unlike others for the Griffins in that there was not the normal blow-out win. Along with that, the Griffins weren’t as sure-handed as usual, having three errors in game one.

However a couple things happened right on cue. Noah Strohl was able to put the Griffins up early in the bottom of the first inning, sending a two-run rocket over the left field wall, his eighth of the year.

Second baseman Reece Hernandez did his job in the lineup, going 3-4 on the day while scoring twice. Trevor Beard also had a nice day himself with two hits and an RBI.

With help from reliever Hayden Shenefield who notched his first save of the year, the Griffins beat the San Diego City Knights 4-1 in game one.

Game two was quite the pitchers duel, perhaps one of the best outings of the year for the Griffins and Knights pitching staffs. Hayden Shenefield started his first game of the year for Grossmont while City Knight starting pitcher Garret Yocum met the Griffin batters 60 feet, six inches.

Hayden Shenefield was like fine wine, getting better as the innings passed. It turned out that Trevor Beard’s two-RBI single was just enough for the Griffins to have the advantage in game two.

Shenefield tossed a complete game, three-hit-shutout while striking out 16 batters, yes sixteen batters. To end the game, Shenefield struck out the side twice, five of the batters he faced were sent down looking and the other flailed on a fastball.

One of the most amazing aspects of Shenefield’s game was the fact that he didn’t allow a single walk in the 30 batters he faced.

Yocum was just as good for the Knights as well. It’s a shame that such a stunning performance was not aided by his hitters. Beard’s hit was one of his only flaws in his outing, going the distance for a complete game and giving up five hits.

The Griffins take game two of the series with a 2-0 win thanks to the remarkable performance of Hayden Shenefied with his third win of the year. I imagine that Abshier might use Shenefield later on in the season as a starter due to the eyebrows he raised.

Following up Shenefield was McCrystal’s stellar performance. For the second consecutive game, Abshier didn’t need to gesture toward his bullpen as McCrystal tossed a complete game.

The Griffins took the upper hand again in another pitchers duel. In inning one, Reece Hernandez was able to score after a throwing error by the Knight infield. Hernandez put his name in the stat book again in the second inning singling to left field with the bases loaded to score Michael Diffley.

The Griffins two runs was enough for McCrystal which was no surprise. Despite giving up a RBI double, it was smooth sailing for the UNLV commit. Sophomore McCrystal earned a win while striking out five batters over nine innings.

Starting pitcher Frank Lopez for the Knights was just as, if not more impressive. Lopez would end his day wth nine strikeout but his inconsistency seemed to be his achilles heel, walking five batters.

The Griffins with their second series sweep in a row after their 2-1 win now have a 17-1 conference record, firmly in first place in the PCAC with no signs of budging.

At home, the Grffins are nearly indestructible with a 10-1 record.

The next home contest for Abshier’s ball club is a non-league game against West LA on Tuesday, April 11 at 2 p.m.

A Greener Playing Field

 

When plodding through the turn-styles, you may notice that fans nowadays pull out their tickets by reaching into their pockets and with two swipes and couple taps of their smartphones they’d have their paperless ticket scanned. From that point, foam-finger toting fanatics will walk past and watch the latest big play on the energy-conserving LED lights of a giant screen while making their way to the tofu burger stand. From conserving water and increasing recycling to using solar and wind as a primary energy source, major professional sports organizations have made a concerted effort in the past years to become more eco-friendly.

“A single individual has a minimal impact on the Earth system. However, the collective actions of over 7 billion people over time can result in creating changes to those “natural” recycling processes that then have negative impacts upon our lives and our environment,” says Mark Goodman, Chairman of the Earth Sciences Department at Grossmont College. “Much is taking place today in the realm of alternative energy sources due to not only the concerns over fossil fuels and things like carbon dioxide but also because fossil fuels are a finite resource.”

The major incentive for the sports industry to consider an environmental means of running its organization are the effective cost-saving measures. “Reducing your energy costs, reducing your water costs, reducing your waste costs is a money saver as it is an environmental winner,” says Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist at the non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Hershkowitz, ranked as one of the top 50 most influential people in sports by SportsBusiness, adds that sports has been a way to connect with people and their passions: “Only 13 percent of people follow science, but 71 percent of people follow sports.” This gives all sports fans a new-found sentiment and broadened awareness of environmental issues.

A major force behind the endeavors of sports programs to become environmentally aware is a non-profit, Pacific northwest-based group called the Green Sports Alliance (GSA) which works in coordination of the NRDC. The Washington-state sports teams are credited with being the first to win the GSA.  “The Green Sports Alliance leverages the cultural and market influence of sports to promote healthy, sustainable communities where we live and play,” states GreenSportsAlliance.org. The NRDC boasts, “Within two years of its founding, the GSA grew to include more than 100 teams in 13 leagues; today it boasts a membership of more than 300 teams and venues.” The Alliance is responsible for the removal of hundreds of millions of pounds of carbon-emission reductions, millions of saved gallons of water and millions of happy smiles on tree-huggers faces.

The National Football League in particular has been the guinea pig of the GSA and has taken some drastic steps in growing their green thumb. CenturyLink Field, home of the brainchild of the GSA, the Seattle Seahawks and Major League Soccer team, the Seattle Sounders, has 3,750 solar panels installed on its retractable roof.

A NFC West foe of the Seahawks, the San Francisco 49ers has lended a hand as well with a new field in Santa Clara, Levi’s Stadium, that accommodates a “living roof”. The “living roof” is a canopy of green and flowering plants encompassing its eight-story tower of luxury suites to provide insulation. And on the field itself, the turf at Levi’s Stadium requires 50 percent less water than most other  NFL fields.

The Philadelphia Eagles are one of the “greenest” teams in the NFL and no, I’m not talking about their uniforms. Amanda MacMillan of NRDC wrote about the Lincoln Financial Field’s plans, “The team’s owners asked NRDC to help them figure out how to reduce the stadium’s carbon footprint, both during and after its initial build, and this changed the game for good.” Gary Mihoces of USA Today Sports said that since January of 2014, 11,000 solar panels and 14 wind turbines have been generating power at Lincoln Financial Field. “The team’s 10-year-old “Go Green” campaign also includes reduced water and electrical use, recycled paper products for all tissues, conversion of cooking oil into biodiesel fuel, a digital version of the cheerleaders calendar to spare trees and compostable packaging for the hot dogs and Philly cheese steaks.” Along with that, upon entering Lincoln Financial Stadium there are signs that plead “Recycle your beer here and your plastics outside.”

“The technology is such that wind-generated power is more cost effective than solar energy. This perhaps explains the explosion of wind farms throughout the part of the US for which I am most familiar and travel through,” stated Goodman.

Major League Baseball stadiums could be seen as giant metal and concrete structures consisting of jumbotrons that squander electricity, lavish troths that dilapidate millions of gallons of water and food stands that exhaust gas in the sake of Chicago Dogs and garlic fries. However, the MLB has made giant steps in decreasing their ecological footprint as well.

In one of the most ecological cities in America is the baseball team, the Seattle Mariners, a founding member of the Green Sports Alliance. “Since 2006 the team has reduced the use of natural gas by 40 percent, electricity by 25 percent and water use by 25 percent. (The savings amount to more than $1.75 million in electricity, natural gas, water and sewer charges)” wrote Michael Casey of CBS News. After a Tuesday home game last year against the Houston Astros, the Mariners organized a promotion in which first 5,000 fans exiting the Safeco Field gates would receive a bag of soil. Safeco Field was also the first MLB park to feature LED lighting to illuminate their field. According to Sepco-SolarLighting.com, LED lights are up to 80 percent more efficient that traditional lighting.

The Boston Red Sox, known for their famous Green Monster in left field, is not the only concept that’s green about them. The Red Sox have went ahead and used solar energy to power Fenway Park, the oldest stadium in the MLB. “Started in 2008, the Fenway Greening program has included the installation of enough solar panels to provide 37 percent of their energy,” said Casey. Toward the end of the Red Sox 2016 campaign, “a pregame ceremony featured many leaders and partners who are part of the city’s effort to reduce Boston’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020,” writes Mark Newman of MLB.com.

In a conversation with Goodman, he stated that applying solar energy to large bases can yield great benefits for the environment.

Coming off one of the best, if not the best seasons in franchise history is the Cleveland Indians. But their success isn’t happening solely on the playing field. Home of the Indians, Progressive Field is the first of it’s kind to install an actual wind turbine. This is part of the “Our Tribe is Green” program ran by the Indians Organization.

One would assume that the state nicknamed the “Land of a Thousand Lakes” would relieve quite a bit of rainfall. Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins, receives that abundance of rainfall and puts it to use in washing down the stadium’s seats.

“Water is critical to life. We live in a semi-desert. There is not enough water locally to support the millions of people who live in our area,” said Goodman. “Much more should be done in our area to conserve water.” Goodman went on to say how pleased he is to see Grossmont College replacing grass with native vegetation. This act alone has resulted in substantial savings on water bills and water itself.

Onto the National League with the Pittsburgh Pirates who have quite the recycling program themselves. The Pirates Organization has effectively removed 65 percent of waste from their stadium, PNC Park, out of the waste stream according Casey.

The Colorado Rockies started feeling green as well last year with their Bike to the Game program to assist in eliminating carbon emissions.

And of course, the hometown Padres did their part with last year’s annual All-Star Game, lighting up the A.L. and N.L. all-stars with LED lighting that is estimated to save over 250,000 kWh per year, which is the equivalent of driving more than 410,000 miles or approximately 16.5 trips around the world.

Onto the asphalt. In attempt to compensate for the burning of fuel and rubber from tires, NASCAR has implemented a program called “NASCAR Green” which includes tire recycling and has vowed to plant 8,000 trees this year to offset carbon emissions. For solar power, the famous 2.5 mile-long Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania links its power to a solar farm which also fuels the electricity for 1,000 nearby houses, writes power-technology.com.

Perhaps more than any other sport, hockey is connected to the natural environment. Hockey requires cold climates and freshwater to preserve and develop its rinks. The National Hockey League is the first professional sports league to issue an environmental sustainability report that’s “goal is to address recent efforts and the challenges faced from an environmental perspective” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

The NHL is partaking in the movement as well with its NHL Green program. “Among the goals of NHL Green: to reduce the use of natural resources in business operations, to track and measure the environmental impact of the sport and to inspire fans and partners to commit to environmental stewardship,” according to NHL.com. “At the NHL, we recognize that we have great responsibility for the way we conduct our business, and we are uniquely positioned to promote the environmental message,” Bettman said.

Also in partnership with the NRDC is the NBA Green program which “generates awareness and funds for protecting the environment” says NBA.com. The NBA has 18 teams that are part of the GSA as well. Many NBA teams part of the NBA Green program donate prepared but unsold food to charities which eliminates landfilling valuable food that would release harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Among the steps inside the arena to eliminate surpluses of energy include team kitchens that use solely Energy Star equipment. Which produces 20-40 percent less energy than standard products.“The NBA’s commitment to reduce its ecological impact and to help educate basketball fans worldwide about the importance of environmental protection confirms why this league is regarded as one of the world’s most responsible sports organizations,” said Hershkowitz. Former NBA Commissioner David Stern said, ”The Seattle Storm and the Portland Trail Blazers are helping to lead the way on the greening of professional sports and the NBA and WNBA are grateful for their leadership. Their participation in the Green Sports Alliance holds the potential to further the greening of professional sports nationally’’.

Goodman advises all Grossmont College students to “plan one’s navigation across space using an automobile more efficiently would help. This means trying to use your car so you reduce the number of miles you put on it during a day while still getting everything you need to get done, done.”

For other tips to generate a better consciousness of the environmental threats and how to make a positive difference in the environment, visit NRDC.org.

Keepin’ the Ball Rollin’

The Grossmont Griffin baseball team has won 14 of their last 16 games and look to end the month of March by continuing their success in an upcoming series against San Diego Mesa College.

In game one of the San Diego Mesa series, team leader in home runs David Maldonado, sent his fifth homer of the year over the fence.

The Griffins must have brought the same bats from their last series against Mt. San Jacinto, as they ended the day with 16 hits and 15 runs. The Griffins are currently averaging a little over nine runs a game.

Some notable performances were from Maldonado who had a three-hit, two-RBI day accompanied by third baseman Justen Burkey who had three hits himself. Outfielder Cabot Van Til had a three-RBI day as well. Van Til has an outstanding .436 batting average on the year.

On the mound, there was a lot left to be desired from pitcher Tim Holdagrafer who gave up five earned runs over five innings. Coach Abshier sent his trusted bullpen piece in Hayden Shenefield to the mound to shut the door.

Shenefield earned the win in game one, striking out two batters in just one inning. Javier De la Torre held his own in his relief outing, knocking down his ERA to a minuscule 1.89.

Griffins win game one 15-7.

There was more of the same in game two for the Griffins. Grossmont had 17 runs, five runs because of two Noah Strohl moonshot home runs.

Maldonado served up another three-hit performance and swiped his team-leading 14th stolen base of the year. Van Til and Burkey both had multi-hit games as well.

Starting on the bump for the Griffins was Andrew Mitchel who was forced to leave the game after two and a thirds innings after giving up three runs. Luckily, Mitchel had the arms of Corey Johnson and Shenefield to rely on as they pitched their way to the win.

Grossmont beat San Diego Mesa to win the rubber match 17-5.

Coach Abshier and pitcher Donavon McCrystal reached into the supply closet and brought out their brooms, looking to sweep the competition away once again.

Mesa jumped on McCrystal early, striking for four runs in the first inning. But as McCrystal kept fighting inning by inning, his teammates kept crawling back, tacking on a run every other inning until it was all tied up 4-4 in the seventh.

The team’s anchor, Justen Burkey, did his job by getting on base for his teammates to knock him in. Burkey would have a three-hit day and account for two of his teams runs.

Once in the eighth inning, Trevor Beard doubled down the right field line to send Sean Crosby and Burkey across the plate. Beard eventually scored himself, giving reliever De la Torre some much needed insurance runs. De la Torre earned his third save of the year by shitting out Mesa for two no-hit innings.

McCrystal got his sixth win of the season in the process and the Griffins are now riding a four-game winning streak after defeating San Diego Mesa 7-4.

The next contest for the Grossmont Griffins is against rival San Diego City. Grossmont will host two of the games in the series on Tuesday and Friday.

An Offensive Explosion

 

Coach Randy Abshier of the Grossmont Griffins (11-5-1) look to keep the ball rolling and extend their six-game winning streak while facing Imperial Valley in a three-game series which started on Tuesday, March 14.

Once you see the box score of game one, you might rub your eyes and not believe what you see. Grossmont sure-handedly put a whooping on Imperial Valley, winning 32-0 with 25 hits. Among the many statistical leaders was first baseman Noah Strohl who came up a double short of the cycle, hitting his third homerun of the year and five RBIs in the process. Centerfielder David Maldonado also had quite the day with six, yes six, RBIs with three hits. A total of 13 hitters for the Griffins had at least one RBI in the “contest” which was helped by a total of five errors made by the Imperial Valley defense.

Pitching wise was just as one sided. Tim Holdgrafer got the start and went five innings with five strikeouts, earning his third win of the year. Multiple relievers came into the game for some extra work thanks to the hefty load of runs put up by the Griffins offense. The Grossmont pitching staff ended game one throwing 13 strikeouts.

Sadly for Imperial Valley, it was more of the same in game two.

The Grossmont Griffins brought out the lumber, winning 17-0. Centerfielder Eric De La Rosa came into pinch hit for Maldonado which resulted in two-run homerun, his second in two games. Maldonado had a homrun himself on Thursday and ended his day with three RBIs.

Led by Andrew Mitchell, the Griffin pitching staff twirled another shutout. Mitchell notched his fourth win of the year and sent five batter back to the bench with a K.

For the series finale, Coach Abshier sent ace Donavon McCrystal to the mound and performed just as expected, tossing six innings and racking up nine strikeouts which was enough to earn himself the win and his team, their third consecutive series sweep.

Shortstop Michael Diffley and right fielder Cabot Van Til had quite the game, each connecting for four base hits each with five RBIs between them.

Now riding an impressive nine-game win streak, the Grossmont Griffins (14-5-1) face Mt. San Jacinto which is their first meeting of the year. The home games in the series will be on Tuesday, March 21 and Saturday, March 25.

Rolling Their Way Through Conference Play

The Grossmont Griffins (8-5), fresh off their three-game sweep of San Bernardino, continued their domination by steam rolling Southwestern this past week.

In game one of the Southwestern series, Pitcher Tim Holdgrafer gave Coach Abshier exactly what he was looking for: another quality start. The freshman phenom Holdgrafer went the distance, allowing one earned run over six innings. In the process, Holdgrafer notched six strikeouts under his belt.

However, Holdgrafer didn’t get the run support he needed and ended his day with a no-decision. Reliever Hayden Sheffield was able to breathe a breath of fresh air after a four-run bottom of the seventh courtesy of a two-RBI double from first baseman Noah Strohl.

The Griffins put the game out of reach in the eighth, tallying another five runs to their total off of five hits and by executing the fundamentals with a sacrifice fly from center fielder David Maldonado and a Jale Sim RBI groundout to the right side of the infield which allowed his man to cross the plate.

The Griffins took game one of the series, winning by an eight-run margin of 9-1. Shenefield earned his first win of the year in the process.

Some more of the same was expected as ace flamethrower, Donavon McCrystal toed the rubber for the rubber match of the three game series. And boy, did McCrystal deliver.

The UNLV commit tossed six and two-thirds innings and gave his team an excellent chance for their tenth win of the year.

Part of the reason McCrystal was so relaxed on the mound was the fact that his newly announced Pacific Coast Athletic Conference of the Week teammate, Robert Bostedt hit a bases-clearing, three-RBI triple in the top of the third inning which rose the Grossmont dugout to their feet, whoopin’ and hollerin’. Just after that, Team Captain Justen Burkey got situated in the batter’s box and pounded a double in the gap to knock Bostedt in. The Griffins led 5-2 after the third inning concluded.

The Griffins would end up continuing their five game winning streak wth their 7-2 victory and McCrystal would tuck another feather in his cap with his third win of the year.

Coach Abshier handed the ball to Buchach Colony High School alumni Andrew Mitchell in hopes that he’d help his team break out the brooms for a second consecutive sweep.

It was a fairly close ball game for most of the game. The Griffins took a 2-0 lead in the third inning delivered by another Strohl double, his fifth of the year.

Trouble arose in the fifth inning for Mitchell and the Griffins as Southwestern took advantage of two errors committed by Mitchell and Strohl. When the top of the fifth inning was all said and done, Southwestern had a 4-2 lead.

But one thing I’ve learned about these Griffins is to never count their bats out and they proved me right once again by responding to the four Southwestern runs with two of their own thanks to two doubles from David Maldonado and second baseman Reece Hernandez, tying the game 4-4 after the fifth. In the bottom of the eighth, Maldonado stepped up to the plate again with the bases loaded and smacked his second double of the game clearing the bases. The game was in the bag for the Grossmont Griffins, winning 8-5.

The Griffins are living up to Coach Abshier’s expectation of another championship, riding a six-game win streak. The Grossmont Griffins (11-5-1) next match up is against Imperial Valley. The home stand in the series will be on Friday, March 17 at 1 p.m.

The Grossmont Griffin Ballclub Has Set Expectations High for 2017

Coach Abshier and the Griffin’s baseball team takes a 7-5-1 record heading into game two of their three-game series against San Bernardino. With the help of Justen Burkey who is sporting a team-leading .348 batting average and Griffin ace, Donavon McCrystal, Abshier expects to “win the championship”, repeating their success from 2016.

Although the accolades of winning coach of the year and a 200 victory career are important to Abshier in his 17-year coaching tenure at Grossmont, that’s not what he takes the most pride in. “What gives me the most satisfaction at Grossmont is seeing my student-athletes move on to the next level. It’s not about my win-loss record at all,” said Abshier. “People would say ‘congrats on your 200th victory!’ The first thing I’d say is that it’s not about me. The student does the work to get out of here. They just make me look good.”

Along the way, Abshier has learned a lot while under former Grossmont College baseball guru, Ed Olsen. Olsen retired at Grossmont at age 71 with a 516-373-7 record which put him as one of the top-10 winningest coaches in community college history. “Olsen used his knowledge as a baseball historian as a means of motivation to get his message across,” said Abshier.

Abshier went on to say the beautiful thing about community college is that “here, we give people second chances and show them the steps they need to get to four-year universities. 97 percent of my ball players at this program receive some sort of financial help to play baseball at the next level. When colleges hear my players go to Grossmont College, they know what they’re getting.” 2016 Coach of the Year, Abshier reiterated the fact it’s not just him, “I have to applaud Grossmont. We have great academics here.”

In Abshier’s coaching career he’s assisted in preparing 22 professional baseball careers and has seen one of his former baseball players, Sean O’Sullivan, blossom into a major-leaguer.

This coming season appears to be a promising one for the Griffin’s ball club. “We’re bringing a lot of the guys back from last year who bring the winning tradition with them. Those sophomores and the leadership they have is one of our biggest strengths. Plus, along with them the freshmen have stepped up,” said Abshier. “By seasons end our goal should be to win a consecutive championship despite losing some players to big time four-year programs.”

One of those players they lost last year to University of Nevada Las Vegas was Alan Strong who just won Mountain West Conference Pitcher of the Week after pitching in a 6-1 win over Cal State Fullerton, the number seven team in the country.

However, so far this season Abshier and his team have had some troubles with weather as the rain has not been kind to them. “We call ourselves road warriors,” Abshier laughed. “We’ve been ran off the field due to all this rain lately and that’s tied our hands behind our back in preparing for this year.”

Despite the weather inconveniences, I wouldn’t read too much into their record. Most of their losses have come in tight, one-run games that could’ve gone either way.

For continued success, “it all starts on the mound” according to Abshier. “What’s key to our success is a strong pitching staff and a solid bullpen. In high school, it’s innings one though seven, but in college it’s seven through nine and that’s where games are won and lost.”

A member of Abshier’s strong starting rotation is sophomore ace, Donavon McCrystal. Last season, McCrystal bolstered an 11-1 record with his only loss coming in the final game of the year and also led the state in a lot of pitching categories. McCrystal has received a scholarship to play at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and will be attending UNLV next year.

McCrystal shares the same expectations with his coach, “Last year we were so close to going to Fresno so that’s got to be on our to-do list along with winning another conference championship.”

“This year our coaches did a good job in mentally preparing us,” McCrystal said when asked how they’ll accomplish their goal.

“This year’s been a little rough,” McCrystal said. “But we’ve won two in a row and I think we are going to keep this winning streak from here on out.”

“But it’s not just on the field where I’ve developed. In the classroom, Grossmont has helped me in becoming a better person,” McCrystal said.

With his 93 mph fastball, McCrystal says his personal goal is to pick up right where he left off and have another undefeated regular season by working even harder for his teammates. McCrystal, leading the team with a 2.83 ERA over 29 innings, says “there’s times when I’ll have two strikes on somebody and I’ll release the ball and already know it’s a strike before it hits the catcher’s mitt.”

On the other side of the ball is sophomore third baseman Justen Burkey who has been tearing the cover off the ball as of late. Early morning on March 3rd, Burkey broke out his finest pen and signed a letter of intent to play for Clark University in Iowa after receiving a scholarship.

Burkey drives from Valley Center to Grossmont to help Abshier’s program and don the Griffin jersey.

Burkey who has committed no fielding errors this season takes pride in his defensive prowess at the “hot corner”.

Carrying on his father’s love for baseball, Burkey gained his inspiration for playing the sport from his dad who passed away when he was young.

“If we can click like last year’s team that ended the regular season on a 13 game win streak we probably won’t lose another game. Last year we were only two games away from going to Fresno and we beat ourselves by committing too many errors,” said Burkey.

For the remainder of the year, Burkey says he’ll go up and compete during every at-bat and help his team in the field work towards a victory.

Grossmont College baseball has set the bar high in terms of expectations and has plans to reach them in Fresno, California in May.

The next home game for Coach Abshier and company is against Southwestern on Friday, March 10 at noon.

Beard’s 3-Run Homerun Helps Lift Grossmont Over Irvine Valley

The Grossmont Griffins (3-5) and starting pitcher Donovan McCrystal looked to earn their fourth win of the year and second consecutive game against Irvine Valley.

The Griffins ousted Irvine Valley in extra inning in their last match up, winning 7-6.

In just the 2nd inning, shortstop Michael Diffley hit a double which knocked in 2 runners and later scored himself thanks to another Cabot Van Til double down the left field line. The Griffins ended the inning with a 3-1 lead.

McCrystal ran into trouble in the top of the 5th after allowing a single and a walk. Coach Abshier sent pitcher Hayden Shenefield in from the bullpen to pitch for McCrystal who would end the day pitching four and a third innings, allowing four earned runs. Shenefield did not stop the bleeding however, allowing the two runners who McCrystal was responsible for to cross the plate and another of his own. Irvine Valley ended their half of the inning with a 5-3 lead.

After Irvine Valley upped their score to 6-4 with a RBI single in the top of the 6th, it was the Griffins turn at the plate. Irvine Valley’s pitcher dealt two walks to the Griffins. Luckily, catcher Trevor Beard was walking up to the batter’s box. Looking to extend a two-out rally, Beard hit a bomb over the left-field fence. A clutch three-run homerun gave the Griffins the lead, 7-6 in the bottom of the 7th inning.

This was short lived however as Irvine Valley came right back with another RBI single to left field to tie the game.

Grossmont, still hyped after Beard’s homerun went into the dugout again with their new-found energy. A four-hit inning in the bottom of the 8th put the Griffins back on top. A 2-RBI hit by third baseman Justin Burkley gave the Griffins the lead and another hit from Michael Diffley gave them the insurance run they needed going into the top of the 9th to close the game. Griffins lead 10-7.

Javier de la Torre notched his first save of the year after a three-up-three-down inning. Final score: Griffins 10 Irvine Valley 7. Burkley, Diffley, and Beard all ended the day with 3-RBI’s to help their team get its fourth win of the year.

Tim Holdgrafer earned his first win of the year as well by tossing two and a third innings in relief with three strikeouts.

The Grossmont Griffins look for their excellence at the plate to continue today as they play at San Diego City at 2 pm. Their next home game is this Saturday at 2 pm as well.

Griffins Topple Irvine Valley in Extra Innings

Head Coach Randy Abshier and the Grossmont Griffins (2-4) went on the road to take on Irvine Valley for a preseason game. Tim Holdgrafer got the nod to be the starting pitcher in the game for the Griffins, looking to bounce back from taking a loss in his last outing.

Irvine Valley got off to an early start, scoring their first run of the game in the bottom of the first due to a throwing error by Holdgrafer. Griffins answered back right away in the top of the 2nd inning thanks to a double by RF Jale Sim who knocked in 3B Justin Burkley for his first RBI on the young season. 2B Reece Hernandez allowed for Sim to score from a sacrifice fly ball to centerfield.

Holdgrafer allowed 6 more hits and 4 earned runs in the 4th and 5th innings giving Irvine Valley a 5-2 lead. Holdgrafer would finish the day with 7 innings and 7 strikeouts and 5 runs and a no decision.

In the top of the 5th, the Griffins loaded the bases with one out and all three runs came in to tie the game 5-5. Grossmont scored off of a sacrifice fly to left field by LF Robert Bostedt and a double by 1B Noah Strohl which brought in two runners.

In the top of the 9th, the Griffin’s SS Michael Diffley doubled down the left field line and set up a prime opportunity for Grossmont to take back the lead. CF Cabot Van Til reached base on an infield single which put Diffley only 90 feet from scoring. Bostedt cashed in and was able to get Diffley to cross the plate by reaching on an error by Irvine Valley’s pitcher. Til moved into scoring position at second base after the error and then moved up to third base after another throwing error by Irvine Valley’s second baseman. The Griffins however were not able to hit Til in for an insurance run going into the bottom of the ninth which would come back to haunt them. Griffins lead 6-5.

After Griffin Andrew Mitchell’s three-up-three-down inning in the 8th, he ran into trouble in the bottom of the 9th giving up a single to right field and a base-on-balls. Cooper Copeland came into finish what Mitchell started and was able to get a groundout but the runners were both able to move up into scoring position. The Griffins then decided to put on Irvine Valley’s clean-up hitter, effectively loading the bases with only one out.

Copeland was able to strike out the next batter and was only one out away from sending the Griffins back home with a victory.

Under pressure, Copeland blew his save opportunity by hitting the batter with a pitch, allowing Irvine Valley to tie the game. Javier de la Torre came into to replace Copeland on the bump and got the final out of the inning with the winning run stranded at third base. Tie game, 6-6, going into extra innings.

Til in the top of the 11th was as clutch as it gets, forcing a walk and putting himself in scoring position all by himself by stealing second base. Bostedt came up to the plate and got his second RBI of the day, hitting in Til for the winning run.

De la Torre shut down Irvine Valley in the bottom half of the 11th giving Grossmont its third win of the year, 7-6.

Grossmont ended the game with 12 hits and de la Torre was the winning pitcher (1-0).

Grossmont faces Chaffey College for their first home game of the year on Thursday, February 16th at 2:00 pm.

Meet Your PCAC Male Player of the Week!

Freshman forward for the Grossmont Men’s Basketball team, Ronald Blain, has won PCAC Player of the Week back-to-back times after kick-starting a 2-win week for the Griffins.

Earlier this week I was able to sit down with the Griffin star to gather his thoughts on how this season has played out so far for the Griffins basketball team and what he is looking forward to in the final stretch of the regular-season schedule.

Ronald Blain

– 2x PCAC Player of the Week

– Height: 6’ 5”                                                                                      

– Weight: 195 lbs.

– Number: 20

– Hometown: McDonough, GA

– High School: Union Grove

– Transfer from San Diego Christian

– Position: Forward

– Year: Freshman

– Age: 19

– Major: Communications

– Statistical Averages Per Game: Points – 12 Rebounds – 8 Field Goal % – 46

– Team has a 13-12 record, 5-3 in conference play

Q: How would you describe your team’s performance so far this year?

A: “A little up and down. We started off pretty well, then we caught fire after Thanksgiving break, coming in 2nd place at our home tournament. Then after that we won the Santa Barbara tourney. But once we came back we hit a rut and things went sour. We ended up losing 6 (games) straight, taking a toll on our 8-5 record. It was pretty tough going through that losing streak, it really affected our team’s morale. I’m kind of scared that our 6 straight losses are going to affect our playoff chances. But we’ll just have to grind out the remaining few games.”

Q: How would you describe your personal performance?

A: “I started off pretty slow but I’ve kept progressing. My individual performance has been increasing in conference play even more so. My free throw percentage has been going up and my points per game has as well. I’ve just been trying to find different ways to score.”

Q: What aspect of your game are you most proud of?

A: “Being able to adapt to playing the post due to my team’s lack of size. I’m originally a guard. Whatever it takes to help my team win, I’ll do it. I take great pride in being able to adapt to new positions.”

Q: What will you do personally to help your team as you go down the final stretch of the regular season schedule?

A: “Continue what I’ve been doing. Rebound, provide a leadership presence, score down low, come off the bench and help my team anyway possible.”

Q: Do you plan on pursuing a career in the field of basketball?

A: “Whether it be playing basketball, a managerial position, trainer, that basketball is gonna pay the bills one way or another.”

Q: If there was any basketball player, past or present, you could sit down and have a conversation with who would it be?

A: “Female? Skylar Diggins (WNBA), she is so hot… Male? LeBron James, I just wanna see where his mind is at.”

Q: Who is your biggest role model?

A: “Definitely my grandma. My grandma is always pushing me, expecting greatness. She is always there for me. Athletics wise, it’s a combination of people and certain aspects about them. I’d have Odell Beckham’s (New York Giants WR) fashion, James Harden’s (Houston Rockets G) scoring and passion for the game, Jimmy Butler’s (Chicago Bulls G) willingness to not give up and make his way up to stardom through the junior college system, LeBron James’ (Cleveland Cavaliers F) winning tradition, Kyrie Irving’s (Cleveland Cavaliers G) laid back personality, and John Cena’s care for the community.”

Q: Who do you try to model your game after?

A; “I just do me, but I’d love to play like James Harden of the Houston Rockets. His scoring ability is out of this world…”

Q: What’s the craziest thing that has happened to you on a basketball court?

A: “The craziest thing was when a 5’9’’ kid dunked on me… thank god no one got it on camera!”

Q: What have you learned this season that is most valuable to you?

A: “Don’t stop, don’t settle. Don’t shoot the three-pointer, drive to the hoop. Our coaches have engraved that into our brains.That’s how I got my crazy dunk against S.D. City.”

Q: Is there any feeling greater than dunking on someone?

A: “Yes. Winning championships. Simple. You can dunk on someone but they can still wave a ring in your face. But at the moment nothing is better than dunking. Signing a letter of intent is one of the best feelings ever as well.”

Q: Favorite professional sports teams?

A: “Yankees… Derek Jeter, A-Rod, Mariano Rivera are all legends. NFL? My team is the New England Patriots. Tom Brady is the greatest of all time! I don’t have a favorite NBA team, but I love to see LeBron win.”

Q: What aspect of your game do you think needs the most improvement?

A: “Probably ball-handling and strength if I want to move up to the next level. I’m not going to be able to compete if I don’t increase those attributes. But all-around I should try to improve at everything.”

Q: What does Ronald Blain play for?

A: “I play to win. I don’t like losing. I can have the worst statistical night but I could care less about how many points I score if we win. The “W” column is all that matters. Long term, I have a career in professional basketball in the back of my head but right now I’m concerned with getting a scholarship, and once I get that all the little things will fall into place.”

Griffins Handled at Home by Cross-Town Rival S.D. City

Back to back PCAC player of the week, Ronald Blain and the Grossmont Griffins (12-11, 4-3) take on rival S.D. City Knights (22-5), looking to avoid a 3-game series sweep.

Right out the gate both teams were on mission playing physical defense, forcing turnovers and diving for loose balls. Exhibited by forward Ronald Blain, the team’s leading rebounder, after he stripped a ball away from the Knights and Forward Corwin Feerick as he attempted to salvage a ball going out of bounds.

The energy in the building ramped up as the Knights and Griffins exchanged leads on 6 straight possessions. For every shot that went down by LeAndre Powell and Blain, the Knights were able to answer back. All the air left the building however once David Wheeler was forced to leave the game after suffering a brutal cut to the face, falling down below the basket onto the hardwood floor.

Just before the end of the half, The Griffins drew a charging call which gave them a new found energy going into the locker room at half time. The score was tied 33-33 with LeAndre Powell leading the way with 9 points.

The Knights surged ahead to start the second half, knocking down 4 three-pointers in a row and forcing errant passes by the Griffin offense, increasing their lead to 10 points. Just 5 minutes into the second half, the referee grew tired of the S.D. City Knight’s head coach’s animations and served him a technical foul for arguing about an out-of-bounds call. #1 of the Knights went on a shooting rampage and scored 3 three-pointers in a row.

Just as the Griffin crowd and bench were about to be taken out of the game emotionally, Blain bullied his way through the paint, scoring a layup while drawing a foul. That was just the beginning for Blain’s success in the second half. The newly announced player of the week made one of the most emphatic dunks seen by the whole team all season.

Blain’s dunk over a Knight caused the whole crowd to get on its feet in amazement of what they just saw. Blain’s celebration, running to half court and flexing his muscles, yelling, “I’m a man!” warranted a technical foul. Ronald Blain was playing out of his mind, scoring 8 of his teams last 10 points all coming from in the paint. It appeared as if he was going to bring the whole team back at once.

The Griffins began to slip away however. D’Aubre Doucette had trouble passing ball towards the end of the half, ending the night with 5 turnovers. When Grossmont went to the striped they were unable to cash in when they needed to most. The S.D. City Knights dunked their way to a win 82-67.

Blain’s team leading 20 points was not enough for the Griffins. The Knights pressure on defense proved too much to handle as they forced 22 turnovers in total. The Griffins (12-12, 4-4) next contest is against Imperial Valley on February 10th.

Other notable performances: LeAndre Powell scored 14 points and crashed the boards for 8 rebounds.