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May 25, 2022

Christopher, Gilroy baseball teams look to get on track

Evenly matched the last couple of years, the Christopher High and Gilroy High baseball teams typically have nail-biting, white-knuckle contests. 

Their latest game on March 18 was no exception. The Mustangs defeated the Cougars, 7-6, on Carter Martinez’s one-out, walk-off single. The victory allowed Gilroy to even the season series at one game apiece as Christopher won the first game, 5-4, by scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning on March 16. The rubber match for the season series is April 28. 

“It was fantastic to come out and beat our crosstown rivals on a walkoff,” said Mustangs pitcher Aaron Valdez, who started and earned a no-decision but left the game with one out in the top of the seventh inning and Gilroy leading, 6-4. “It was just a great overall team effort and good to get that first league win out of the way. Once that one comes, you feel more and more wins are going to come.”

The ending was a bang-bang play and a tough call as Martinez hit a ball down the right-field line just off the glove of the CHS right fielder whose body landed in foul territory. The umpire ultimately ruled it fair, meaning pinch runner Sam Guerrero was safe at home plate and the GHS celebration was on. 

Guerrero was running for Jacob Harden, who drew a one-out walk. Guerrero advanced to second base on a wild pitch and Estevan Cortez walked before Martinez’s single. Martinez and his twin brother sophomore Brayden Martinez were called up from the junior varsity team the week of the two-game set. 

Brayden Martinez hit a home run in the first CHS-GHS contest and Carter Martinez—in addition to his game-winning hit—recorded the final two outs on the mound for Gilroy in the top of the seventh in the second meeting. 

“They’re making a pretty good impact and making great contributions, which is great to see,” Valdez said. 

Cougars coach Ryan Dequin didn’t see eye to eye with the home plate umpire afterward, both with the final call and how the home plate umpire reacted to one of Dequin’s assistant coaches who argued the ball was fair. Even with the close loss, Dequin kept the team’s postgame meeting much shorter than usual and focused on the positives. 

“We did have a lot of good at-bats, had a good practice (Thursday), guys put the bat on the ball, we hit in situations, we put pressure on their defense, and defensively we played pretty good so there really wasn’t much to say,” Dequin said. “I apologized for the stuff that happened afterward (having words with the umpire as he was leaving) because we have to be the examples as coaches.”

The future looks bright for the Cougars, who started four sophomores, three juniors, one senior and a freshman. However, experience goes a long way at the high school level and Dequin knows it’ll take time for his younger players to mature. 

“We’ve got 15, 16-year-old guys playing 17, 18-year-old guys,” he said. “That’s a big difference.”

Will Anderson, Nathan Weiler and Matt Anderson have been Christopher’s top pitchers, while Eric Cantu, Mateo Alcantar and Aiden Simeon have shined as some of the top position players. Will Anderson led CHS offensively with two singles and two runs driven in.

The Cougars have been undone by physical and mental errors this season, especially in the second game against Gilroy when a leadoff single in the seventh was wasted after the player got picked off leaning too far off the bag.

“One error, one brain fart or not being able to throw strikes in certain situations, that is what’s costing us in every game,” Dequin said. 

CHS and GHS both lost their following games on March 22, as the Mustangs were defeated 7-0 by Pacific Grove and the Cougars losing 9-7 to Carmel. That dropped both teams to 1-4 in Pacific Coast League Gabilan Division play. Gilroy received a huge lift on March 18 from Jacob Godwin, who hit a towering home run in the sixth that gave the Mustangs a 6-4 lead.

“That was a huge home run for us,” Valdez said.  

Gilroy fell behind 3-0 but responded with a five-run third, capped by Harden’s two-run single. Also in the inning, Cortez and Brayden Martinez had run-scoring singles, and Godwin was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring in the Mustangs’ second run. Quinn Larson reached base three times, all via walks. Valdez didn’t have his best stuff but battled and left the game with his team leading by two runs. 

“Getting deep in the counts and getting behind, I just had to come back and throw strikes and try to compete,” he said. “Just trying to get them to make soft contact and let my defense do their thing.”

The CHS players get pumped after scoring the tying run in the 7th inning at Gilroy. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.
The Cougars’ Eric Cantu rounds third base to score during the CHS-GHS league contest. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.
The Mustangs’ Jacob Godwin is greeted by teammates after hitting a solo home run. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.

Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]

Emanuel Lee
Sports Editor of the Gilroy Dispatch, Hollister Free Lance and Morgan Hill Times. PR of 3:13.40 at the 2019 CIM. Hebrews 12:1.

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