Rams will rely on defense this season

 

The Gavilan baseball team may be the youngest it’s been in
awhile. But despite having just six sophomores on the roster,
sixth-year coach Neal Andrade is confident his team can come
together and be competitive.
GILROY

The Gavilan baseball team may be the youngest it’s been in awhile. But despite having just six sophomores on the roster, sixth-year coach Neal Andrade is confident his team can come together and be competitive.

“It’s probably the youngest team I’ve had,” Andrade said. “Recruiting went pretty well. We got a good mix of kids from local schools and around the area.”

The Rams opened up their season with a 3-1 loss to Merced Tuesday and a 9-5 loss to Los Medanos Thursday. Both games featured solid starting pitching and good defense by Gavilan – traits Andrade says will be needed this year if the team is to improve on its 10-27 overall record and 5-19 conference record from a year ago.

“We will need to do the little things to win games,” Andrade said. “We have to play solid fundamentally.

“We will have to be one of those teams that manufactures runs by doing the fundamentals and minimizing the mental mistakes. It starts with pitching and defense. We won’t be able to wait for the three-run home run.”

Carrying 30 players on the roster will give the team some added depth even if it means less playing time for some.

“More competition for spots makes everyone better,” Andrade said. “That competition is something we were lacking last year. It’s a good problem to have and a bad problem to have.”

There are 13 pitchers on the roster. While he hasn’t set a rotation, Andrade says he will probably have three or four main starters.

There will be times the added depth will come in handy, such as when Gavilan played four games in three days over the weekend.

The Rams improved to 2-2 Sunday after taking both games of a doubleheader against visiting Barstow, 11-9 and 10-1. Gavilan played Barstow again Monday, although results were not available at publication.

Andrade hasn’t ruled out having two or three players redshirt this season either.

“Right now, they’re getting adjusted to the college game,” Andrade said. “They’re learning the little things like going from seven to nine innings. They all practice hard and enjoy baseball. Many have aspirations to play at the next level.”

Miles Sanchez and Matt Gattis were the starters in the first two games. While neither picked up a win, they pitched well-enough to win, Andrade said. Gavilan’s lone out-of-state player is Chris Archuleta from New Mexico. He played football for the Rams. Andrade was hoping to use him as the closer, but he’s had some arm problems, so that could change.

Other pitchers include Chris Barber (who could also play first base when), Mark Jenson (probably out of the bullpen), James Lafuente (a crafty reliever and graduate of Gilroy High, with a good fork ball and rubber arm), Adam Martinez (a lefty and possible spot starter), Chris Salter (another GHS grad who will come out of the bullpen), Robert Silveira (bullpen), Michael Stewart (bullpen), Kevin Sullivan (spot starter and bullpen), Blaine Sutton (transfer from San Jose City) and Anthony Trefielo (a left-handed specialist).

Catcher Jacob Ohman, from Palma, has worked with the pitchers the first two games. Max Myers, also a catcher who has been a designated hitter for Gavilan, has shown some power early. He had two hits in the first game and a solo home run in the second.

The top of the lineup is anchored by speedy center fielder Danny Contreras, who was one of Gilroy’s top hitters last year.

Then the Rams have guys like Stephen Smith, from Live Oak, Kevin Medeiros, from San Benito, and Tyler Osbourne, from Gilroy, at the heart of the lineup to provide some pop. Smith, a crafty middle infielder, knows the game and is a hard worker, Andrade said.

Osbourne, a third baseman, will be one of the offensive leaders on the team. He had seven home runs for the Rams last season.

Cody Meek, from North County, is another mid infielder who Andrade would like to see batting high up in the lineup. Dane Lamanna, from San Benito, will be battling for spots in the infield. He is one of the few left handed hitters in the lineup.

Joe Forestieri, from Live Oak, will be competing for time at first base.

Joe Cano, a GHS grad who redshirted last season, is one of the players Andrade is looking to set the stage at the bottom of the lineup.

Others who Andrade would like to step up include Charlie Duffy (GHS grad who will see some time at first), Ryan MacPhail (a fundamentally strong team player with good speed), Brandon Castillo (a left-handed batter and reserve infielder who redshirted for Gavilan last year), Eddie Gomez (a utility player who can play catcher and third base, just eligible Friday), Henry Millan (a reserve player) and Ryan Evanger (a utility player who can play outfield and pitch, redshirted last year).

The Rams added two new coaches this year – Brandon Hennessey and Brian Bueno. Hennessey, a pitcher, just finished his four-year stint with San Jose State. He has been part of recruiting and is working with the pitching staff. Bueno, a Gavilan alumni who played for Andrade will be working with hitters and catchers. Ryan Dequin (second year), Nick Bakich (third year) and Bob Reggiani (sixth year) round out the staff.

The Rams will play their first road game Tuesday against West Hills College in Coalinga.

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