If the Gilroy High baseball team was going to win a league championship this season, it would need Quinn Larson to be dominant on the mound and at the plate.
The Cal Berkeley-signee has been nothing short of spectacular this year, going a perfect 8-0 in the regular-season in leading the Mustangs to a Blossom Valley Athletic League Santa Teresa Division title. The Mustangs (17-6-1) earned the No. 5 seed in the Central Coast Section Division V playoff bracket and play at No. 4 Monte Vista Christian on May 20 at 1pm.
Larson has allowed just 18 hits while striking out 106 in 47 ⅔ innings, one of the more dominant seasons you’ll ever see. He also has two complete games, which even at the high school level is becoming a rarity in today’s game.
The team’s turnaround has been a pleasant surprise given Gilroy struggled to a 3-23 campaign last year.
“It’s been great, a fun season,” Larson said. “It’s been a real testament to how we’re working and all the guys buying into the program and the coaches doing a great job with us this season.”
Despite his accolades, Larson exudes a team-first mentality, crediting his teammates for elevating their game. In particular, he noted the play of catcher Brayden Martinez, No. 2 pitcher Eric Hernandez, and multi-purpose threats Ryan Villanueva and Carter Martinez as making big impacts throughout the season.
“Brayden has been on fire and might be leading the league in batting average,” Larson said. “He’s been doing great behind the dish. Eric has been coming up clutch for us and getting a lot of big wins. Ryan is doing great defensively, swinging the bat well and getting a lot of RBIs. Carter is doing a lot for us and it’s been a lot of fun to win a league title, especially after last year.”
Hernandez is 4-1 with a 1.50 ERA, and Carter Martinez is 3-2 with a 2.28 ERA and leads the team with 15 appearances and two saves. Brayden Martinez leads the team in several offensive categories, including average (.457), hits (32), doubles (11) and RBI (20).
Larson has delivered and then some. Armed with a fastball that consistently hits in the low to mid-90 mph range, along with a slider and change-up, the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder can throw three pitches for strikes. Larson’s improved command has also been key in him having a dominant senior season on the mound.
“I made a lot of changes last summer with my slider, and it’s been a great pitch for me, an out pitch I can throw any time,” he said. “And midway through the season my change-up came along a lot more. During spring break, I had some off time from games so I was throwing some bullpens at KPI and just messing around with my change-up and found a grip to work for me. That pitch has really helped me out big time because I can throw hitters off a little more.”
The Mustangs won their league opener and dropped their next game to Prospect before running off 12 consecutive victories to win an outright Santa Teresa Division championship. Larson was often the center of attention from pro scouts, as an estimated 20 to 25 scouts showed up to watch Larson’s first start this season and 10 scouts were in attendance to watch his start at Silver Creek on April 7.
“It was kind of a surreal experience with all the scouts being there,” he said. “I don’t notice them too much during the games because I’m pretty locked in, but afterward friends and family will tell me they were there, so it’s a pretty good feeling.”
As strong as Larson has been on the bump, his batting has been impressive, too. He was hitting third at the start of the year before moving up to the leadoff spot about halfway through the season. Admittedly, Larson said he’s had good and bad stretches with the bat, but the numbers don’t lie, either.
Larson ranks among the top three on the team in nearly every major offensive category, and first in home runs (3), runs scored (28) and stolen bases (19). It’s the latter statistic he’s particularly proud of, as his ability to get on base and steal a bag has resulted in the team’s steady run production.
Larson said he felt at his absolute best in a 5-1 win over Evergreen Valley on May 5. He allowed no earned runs and struck out 12 over six innings.
“I was feeling pretty great that day, got up to 96 with the fastball and all the pitches were working for me,” he said. “That was a really fun one for me because it was a lot more competitive atmosphere because it was for first place.”
Larson credited his teammates, coaches and parents John and Carol for being a great support system to aid in his success.
“I’ve been really thankful to have all of them and it’s been a great ride,” he said.