Granada Hills’ playoff run ends in a 3-2 loss to Carson in the CIF Semifinals

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The top-seeded Granada Hills Highlanders rode into Dedeaux Field on the campus of USC looking to punch their ticket to the CIF L.A. City Section Open Division Finals. Ranked 3rd in the city, the Highlanders entered their matchup in the Semifinals against a Carson Colts team that had won five of their last six games, including their win in the Quarterfinals over El Camino Real. In a tightly contested contest, the Highlanders were able to get out to an early 1-0 lead in the 1st inning and quickly responded with a run after Carson tied the game in the 4th inning. Despite a valiant effort, the Highlanders were unable to hang onto the 2-1 lead, as the Colts pulled ahead with two runs at the top of the 6th inning to go ahead 3-2. Carson finished out the contest without surrendering the lead, ending the Highlanders’ season in heartbreaking fashion.

Senior pitcher Andrew Cuervo got the start on the mound for Granada Hills against senior Jaime Quezada from Carson. Following a scoreless first inning from Cuervo, the Highlander offense got going in the bottom of the inning with a single from junior second baseman Jackson Lyons. Granada Hills tallied a run on the board when junior first baseman Easton Hawk added a triple to bring Lyons home. The Highlanders continued to maintain a 1-0 through the 3rd inning, as Cuervo had only surrendered a single and a walk.

Carson started to get their offense going at the plate in the top of the 4th inning. The Colts quickly put two runners on base with a single from junior first baseman Dylan Mares and a walk from Johnny Munoz. Carson advanced both runners to second and third base with a sacrifice bunt, leading to a groundout RBI from junior infielder JoJo Olloque to tie the game. Cuervo found himself in a jam when he loaded the bases with an additional walk and hit junior outfielder Ryan Camacho with a pitch. He was able to successfully force a ground out from the Colts to end the inning with a 1-1 tie.

Granada Hills quickly responded in the bottom of the 4th with a double from Cuervo and a single from junior outfielder Juan Tirado. The Highlanders regained the lead with a squeeze play from junior designated hitter Jack Donahoe. Quezada regained his composure by not allowing any additional damage in the inning keeping the deficit at 2-1. Both teams were held scoreless in the 5th inning, but in the top of the 6th the pendulum of the game swung back to the Colts.

Carson got hot at the plate with back-to-back singles from Quezada and Olloque. Both runners advanced to second and third base on a sacrifice bunt, followed up by an RBI bunt from Camacho to tie the game 2-2. Down to their last out, Camacho successfully stole 2nd base, leading to Cuervo loading the bases with back-to-back walks. The Highlanders made a pitching change by subbing in sophomore Alex Schmidt in an attempt to get the final out. The Colts stayed disciplined at the plate, as junior Aiden Brasher walked in Camacho to put them ahead 3-2.

Brasher proceeded to take the mound in the bottom of the 6th inning and held the Highlanders scoreless with a strikeout in the process. Granada Hills added a single in the bottom of the 7th inning, but was unable to save their season, as Brasher successfully secured the 3-2 win for Carson. Despite the disappointing loss, the Highlanders established themselves as a top contender this season with a 22-8 record and a West Valley League championship. Carson will attempt to ride their momentum into Dodger Stadium against the Highlanders’ West Valley League rival Birmingham on Saturday at 1:00 with a city championship on the line

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