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Patrick Henry, West Hills represent East County at American Legion state tournament

The song remains the same for the Patrick Henry Trojans American Legion baseball team after repeating as San Diego District 22 champions.

The Trojans, stocked with players from Patrick Henry High School, defeated the West Hills Tomcats in a pair of double-elimination games July 18-20 at Mission Bay High School to win this year’s 19U title.

Patrick Henry defeated the Coronado Seals, 7-5, in last year’s district championship game en route to posting a third-place finish at the state tournament.

Both Patrick Henry and West Hills qualified for last weekend’s state tournament in Yountville.

Patrick Henry coach Sheldon Watkins credited last year’s state championship appearance as a catalyst for the high school team’s success this past spring. The Patriots finished 23-8-1 overall with a deep run into the San Diego Section playoffs and a City League championship title.

With much of last year’s cast returning for another summer, the Trojans once again proved to be one of the district’s top teams.

However, Patrick Henry needed a little extra in its tank to emerge as back-to-back champions after dropping its opening game in the revamped four-team, three-day double-elimination tournament.

Originally tabbed as a six-team postseason tournament, this year’s championship event was scaled back to four teams with a site change. Not all the top teams this summer participated due to the close proximity of classes starting in school districts featuring a year-round schedule.

The Trojans, representing Squad 460, entered the district tournament with a 10-1 regular season record while West Hills, representing Post 364, qualified with a 9-2 regular season record. The La Jolla Vikings (Post 275) and the Hoover Panthers (Post 731) also participated.

La Jolla promptly put the defending district champions on the defensive after recording a 3-2 upset win while West Hills secured a berth in the winners bracket semifinals by defeating Hoover by a score of 14-0.

The opening day of competition closed with Patrick Henry defeating Hoover, 3-0, in an elimination game to narrow the field to three teams.

The second day of competition featured two games. West Hills defeated La Jolla, 4-3, to drop La Jolla to the challenger bracket final against the Trojans.

Patrick Henry eliminated the Vikings, 14-0, to advance to the championship round the following day.

The Trojans swept the Tomcats by scores of 4-3 and 3-2 to win the double-elimination tournament.

Ben Manis and Garrett Willis pitched well in the opening game of the championship double-header while Xavier Lopez hurled a six-hitter in the second game, allowing one earned run with six strikeouts.

Manis, an incoming senior, posted a 6-5 record with a 2.79 earned-run average in 17 appearances for Patrick Henry during the spring high school season.

Lopez, who finished 4-0 as a sophomore on the team’s junior varsity roster, received recognition as the Pitcher of the Tournament during the playoffs.

Mateo Medina batted .389 with seven runs scored and three RBI in five tournament games to earn the Hitter of the Tournament award. Medina hit .350 with a team leading 39 RBI in 31 games for the Patriots during the spring as a junior.

Last weekend’s state tournament featured six teams — three from Northern California and three from Southern California (including two from San Diego).

Patrick Henry played four games during the four-day event, dropping a thriller in its final game against the defending state champion Petaluma Leghorns for a bid to advance to Monday’s state championship game.

West Hills dropped both of its games at the tournament, falling to the Humboldt Eagles and Leghorns. Top players for the Tomcats this season included Kyle Dobyns, Christian Schmid, Josh Gaylord and Andrew Ritayik.

Gaylord hit .300 in 19 games with West Hills during the 2019 high school season while Ritayik batted .295 in 26 games with 25 RBI. Dobyns hit .291 in 23 games with 10 RBI.

The Merced Volunteers (Post 83) opened the tournament with a win over the Long Beach Rams and topped Patrick Henry in its next game to earn a berth in the championship game against Petaluma.

The Leghorns swept Monday’s double-elimination double-header against the Volunteers to repeat as state champions.

The Trojans defeated Petaluma and Long Beach in its opening two games en route to a third-place finish in this year’s bracket with a 2-2 record.

The state champion advances to the Western Region tournament Aug. 7-11 in Fairfield, north of the Bay Area. The Western Region tournament will include teams from California, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah.

The American Legion World Series follows Aug. 15-20 in Shelby, N.C.

Source: East County Californian

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