SAN DIEGO — Grossmont was a team of destiny, and Mission Bay was simply happy to be there. So in Grossmont pitcher Mike Spears' mind, anything less than a victory in Thursday's San Diego Section 2-A baseball championship game at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium would have been unacceptable.
Spears made sure Grossmont (29-1) fulfilled its destiny, throwing a two-hit shutout in a 3-0 victory in front of 3,000.
It was an appropriate final chapter in a two-year dynasty for the Foothillers, who captured their second consecutive section title while going 58-3 during that span. They tied their own section record for victories in a season (29) and set a new single-season winning percentage mark: .966.
Spears, a senior left-hander who pitched a perfect game earlier in the year, capped a perfect varsity career. He finished 10-0, 17-0 in two seasons.
"I wouldn't have been satisfied at all if we'd lost," said Spears, who struck out six, walked four and hit a batter. "I wanted back-to-back championships."
Spears got all the runs he needed when Grossmont scored in the fifth off Mission Bay ace Manny Castillo (8-3), who had a no-hitter going through four innings. Castillo, a junior left-hander who struck out six, walked two and yielded three hits, gave up two hits in the inning. The second hit--a sharp grounder by Matt Jones that bounced off shortstop Jesus Munoz's chest and rolled into shallow left field--allowed pinch-runner Shannon Monroe to score from second base.
"Spears smelled it when they got that run," Buccaneers Coach Dennis Pugh said. "He had a whole new attitude. I could tell they really wanted it. They've been here three times. We've never been here before. I saw a lot of wide eyes before the game."
Mission Bay (22-9) finished second in the City Western League and came into the tournament unseeded. But the Bucs--Castillo in particular--gave the Foothillers all they could handle. Spears had only two 1-2-3 innings. Mission Bay stranded seven runners, five at second base. But its No. 3 and 4 hitters, Marlon Gardinera and Danny Gil, were 0 for 6 with runners on base.
Castillo was behind in the count to only two of the 27 hitters he faced and he threw first-ball strikes to 18 of the first 19. But his one mistake was an 0-1 fastball he threw to Wynter Phoenix in the sixth. Phoenix bounced it off the 370-foot sign in right-center for an RBI triple and scored when J.J. Ibarra's relay bounced past third baseman Ivan Espinoza and into the dugout to make it 3-0.
"His first pitch was a curve," Phoenix said. "I just waited for his fastball. Luckily, it was right down the middle. (Castillo is) a good pitcher. But I don't think we were concentrating enough. A lot of us were thinking about home runs in the stadium."
"My curveball was breaking a lot and I was pitching away from them, trying to keep them off balance," Castillo said. "But a couple pitches I didn't want to throw. My catcher called them.
"We didn't expect to come this far. We had just two bad innings. That's it."