Sustaita belts homer; Kirkish, Mickartz join forces on hill for
surprise 3-1 upset over Hollister
GILROY – After Mustang outfielder Marty Sustaita missed the call for a sacrifice bunt in the fifth inning with a runner on first base and only one out, he knew there was only one way to redeem himself.
“I missed a sign so I said, ‘I might as well do something,'” said Sustaita, who transformed his mistake into a blessing in disguise when he turned on an inside fastball and blasted it over the right field fence to seal Gilroy’s 3-1 upset over Hollister. “It was inside and a little high. I just turned on it… I thought it was on the warning track, maybe it had a chance. When I got past second, I saw that it was still in the air.”
Sustaita broke an 0-for-9 slump and, more importantly, gave the Mustangs an added insurance run going into the final two frames of Friday’s home victory over the visiting Haybalers.
“We’re just hoping for a last one against Live Oak,” said Sustaita, looking ahead to Tuesday’s regular-season finale against the Acorns on the Gilroy High diamond at 4 p.m.
Following three solid innings of work by senior starter John Kirkish – who shook off a rocky first frame where he gave up one run on two hits and tossed a pair of shutout innings – sophomore right-hander Peter Mickartz took to the hill and completely shut down a hard-hitting Hollister line-up with a nasty breaking ball.
“That was probably the first time this season I’ve used it that much and it has been that effective,” said Mickartz, who allowed only one hit in the final four frames. “I was warming up in the pen and broke a few off (breaking balls). Then I got on the hill and broke a few more off. It was breaking hard and sharp.”
Mickartz forced eight pop-outs and two ground-ball outs as well as striking out a pair in his masterful performance that extended the surging Mustangs’ winning streak to four straight.
“Winning is always a lot more fun, but we still have one game left and, hopefully, we can make it five in a row,” Mickartz said.
After Hollister went up 1-0 in the top of the first inning, Gilroy came right back – tying the score in the bottom of the second with some aggressive base-running. Sophomore shortstop Jordan Newton (2-for-3, RS, RBI) singled up the middle, stole second, and then on his steal of third came around to score on the Haybaler catcher’s errant throw into the outfield.
“We just realized that we have nothing to lose. We started really coming together. It feels good, real good,” said Newton, playing in his first varsity season. “We just come out and play hard because all the pressure is on them.”
Hollister, at 10-4 in league, and Live Oak, at 11-3 in league, are in a heated battle for the inaugural T-CAL title. Meanwhile, Gilroy – which got of to a horrid start to the season – is now 6-8 in league and once again can play the spoiler in Tuesday’s match-up with the Acorns.
“It took a little while to figure it out, but the guys have been playing hard the last 15 games. We’ve been right there,” head coach Clint Wheeler said. “Today things went our way, but you have to give the kids credit. They’ve been battling.”
Wheeler added his team would be thinking playoffs right now if it weren’t for an early two-game series against last-place North Salinas – which swept the Mustangs for its only two T-CAL wins – and a last-inning collapse against Palma on the road. Despite sitting in the bottom half of the T-CAL Standings, Gilroy has beaten both Live Oak and Hollister this season.
“Hopefully, we can get one more,” Wheeler said.