SAN DIEGO — Santana High, the defending San Diego Section 3-A baseball champion, is finding out that while it may be easy winning one title, it's always much harder the second time around.
The third-ranked Sultans were dealt their second consecutive loss Friday as fourth-ranked Granite Hills moved into first place in the Grossmont League with a 6-3 victory at Granite Hills.
Earlier this week, Santana (4-2 in league and 10-5 overall) dropped a 9-4 decision to seventh-ranked Valhalla.
"Sure, it was a tough week for us," Santana Coach Marty Nellis said. "But this is the kind of team that can come back. I'll tell you one thing, when the dust clears, we'll be there."
Against the Eagles, Santana jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on back-to-back home runs by Jeff Gay and Jim Franco in the first inning. But Granite Hills starter Fred Helm (6-2) settled down thereafter and allowed just two hits the rest of the way to help the Eagles improve their league record to 5-1 and their overall mark to 13-3.
"What Fred did after those two home runs is showed what kind of maturity a senior should have," Granite Hills Coach Gordon Thompson said. "When your best pitcher gives up two quick runs like that, you just have to hope he keeps his head in the game. He really did a fine job after he settled down."
Meanwhile, the Eagles rallied to tie with a run in the second and one in the third on catcher Damon Hansel's ninth home run of the season, a towering blow to center field off Sultan starter and loser Jim Tatum.
In the fifth inning, Granite Hills took the lead on Kyle Robbins' RBI single to right-center field that scored Frank Carey, who opened the inning with a single. Lance Allister followed Robbins' hit with a line-drive single to left that scored two runs and increased the Eagles' lead to 5-2.
"It's really a nice win for us because we were able to beat Tatum, who was the San Diego Section Player of the Year last season," Thompson said. "Whether or not that was vintage Tatum today, I don't know. But the fact that we beat him has to give them something to think about next time we play them."