BASEBALL: Seventh-inning rally lifts Mustangs in TCAL opener

Gilroy residents will have a chance to meet three players from

GILROY – The Gilroy High baseball team needed two runs to win
its Opening Day dual with Tri-County Athletic League opponent
Salinas. And it turned out the number two would be its lucky
GILROY – The Gilroy High baseball team needed two runs to win its Opening Day dual with Tri-County Athletic League opponent Salinas. And it turned out the number two would be its lucky number.

The count: two balls, two strikes with two outs and two runners on base. And up at bat: Eric Vegas, No. 22.

It’s like baseball poetry.

Vegas’ two-out, 2-RBI double in the bottom of the seventh inning propelled the Mustangs to a 6-5 victory over the Cowboys on a brisk Tuesday afternoon in Gilroy.

“I was thinking off-speed because they had an extra pitch,” said Vegas, a senior. “I’m just trying to not let my team down.”

Vegas guessed right, ripping a Robert Wayman curveball down the right-field line, scoring Taylor Chris, who also started on the mound, from third and a hustling Bubu Garcia from first for the clinching run.

The heart-pounding triumph gives new skipper Johnny Ramirez his first win as manager, a welcomed outcome for the excitable coach.

“Right now I told them that’s what makes a championship team. A championship team finds a way to win in the last inning,” the vociferous GHS alum said of his ball club’s win. “I told them all along that it will not be an easy road through TCAL. Hats off to Salinas, they battled us. This is one of the toughest leagues. You have to strap it up every game.”

The Mustangs’ comeback trail began one inning earlier, trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth.

After back-to-back singles by Chris and Garcia, and a Vegas walk, sophomore Jordan Dexter also drew a free pass, scoring Chris to make it 4-3 with one out. Neal Dinsmore knotted things at 4-all with a clean base hit to left field, however, the Mustangs left the bases loaded and the Cowboys made them pay in the top half of the seventh.

Two walks and a fielders choice later, the Cowboys had runners on the corners and pulled off their second double steal for a run in the game, jumping ahead 5-4.

“I knew we were going to come back,” Vegas said. “We have a really strong offense so I wasn’t too worried.”

Returning all-leaguer Chris struck out nine allowing four hits and an unearned run in his four innings of work. Though he left with the lead, Garcia was the pitcher of record, tossing the top of the seventh.

“It’s a great way to start the season. We played as a team all the way through to the end,” Chris said. “I let a little more runners on, but we got the outs and kept them close.”

Tyler Price spelled Chris in the fifth inning, giving up one run on three hits and four strikeouts in two innings.

Vegas’ game winner was his second double of the afternoon. The third baseman also found the right-center field gap in the bottom of the first inning for an RBI two-bagger to put the Mustangs up 2-0.

After the Mustangs jumped out 2-0 on the Cowboys and starting pitcher Aaron Vasquez, their bats were silenced for the next four innings as the Cowboys began to chip away at the lead, eventually taking control in the top of the fifth, scoring twice for a 3-2 lead.

The Cowboys tacked on another run in the top of the sixth on a homerun by Jesse White, but the Mustangs were not to be denied on their home field.

“That pitcher they threw at us, that first inning we jumped him, after that he settled in his groove and started hitting corners,” Ramirez said. “We had to find a way to get on, which our guys did. You have to win these close games.”

These same two teams will be right back at it Friday in Salinas. Michael Hartman is expected to make his season debut on the hill for the Mustangs, Ramirez said.

Notable stats:

Chris finished the day going 2-for-4 at the plate, Garcia went 1-for-3 with an RBI sacrifice fly, Vegas went 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBI and Dinsmore put together a 1-for-3 effort with a RBI.

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