Eleven scouts—the majority of them from MLB teams—were on hand to watch Gilroy High senior Quinn Larson’s start against Silver Creek High on April 7.
That’s a large turnout even for a top level talent such as Quinn, who has signed with Cal. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound right-hander didn’t disappoint, striking out 12 over five dominant innings in leading the Mustangs to a 9-1 win.
That improved Gilroy’s Blossom Valley Athletic League Santa Teresa Division record to 4-1, just a half-game back of Prospect High. With most of the BVAL schools on spring break the week of April 10, no Santa Teresa Division games are on the slate.
However, Gilroy had its spring break last week and to avoid a long layoff from competition, the Mustangs have three non-league games until their next league contest against Lincoln on April 19. Brian Collom spent 10 years as an assistant coach at Gavilan College and one season as an assistant at Christopher High last year before taking over the reins as the GHS skipper this season.
So far, he’s been pleased with the players’ attitude and effort.
“I can’t really speak enough for all of our boys,” Collom said. “They’re all eager to learn and get better, and so far they’ve done a fantastic job of that. There’s been some growing pains, but they’ve definitely bought into the program.”
Gilroy (6-4-1 overall) seems poised to contend if not win the Santa Teresa, which entering this week’s play only had two teams—the Mustangs and Evergreen Valley—with above .500 records.
“We just have to play our game, pitching and defense,” Collom said. “That’s when we’re at our strongest, when we can pitch it and play defense.”
Larson can definitely pitch it, hitting 94 mph on the radar gun a couple of times and his fastball sitting in the low 90s throughout. He allowed just two hits and walked two in five shutout innings. Larson also went 2-for-4 at the plate, including a solo home run with one out in the top of the sixth inning.
“Quinn is obviously our most talented player and he’s that five-tool athlete we talk about in baseball,” Collom said. “Fielding, strong arm, can hit for contact, can hit for power, good speed. He comes ready to play everyday and that’s what I like about the kid.”
Scouts have become commonplace at Gilroy’s games whenever Larson is on the bump, though it hasn’t affected his focus.
“With 18-year-old kids there comes the understanding there will be mental mistakes, some physical mistakes. But they’re few and far between with Quinn,” Collom said. “For the most part, the kid doesn’t miss a beat. He’s just a gamer.”
The Mustangs had several other players flourish as well, with cleanup hitter Brayden Martinez going 4-for-4 to lead a 17-hit attack. His twin brother, leadoff man and shortstop Carter Martinez, had a single and two stolen bases.
“Both those kids work their butts off everyday,” Collom said. “You can tell through the way they play, they love the game of baseball and those are the type of kids I just enjoy coaching the most, the kids you can just see the joy coming out when they’re playing ball.”
Collom also praised No. 2 starter Eric Hernandez, a sophomore with tons of potential.
“Eric goes out there and competes,” Collom said. “I love that kid. He may not have all the physical tools Quinn has, but he still has a great arm. I wish our team showed the same confidence with Eric on the bump that they do with Quinn because he’s right up there. But I can’t say enough about him, a good hard working ball player. Only a sophomore so we’ve got a couple more years to work with him and see him grow, so we’re excited about that.”
Ryan Villanueva, Evan Passama and Hernandez had two hits each as eight of the nine batters in the starting lineup collected at least one hit. Villanueva has been a stalwart in the program and is one of the few players remaining from Gilroy’s 2021 CCS championship winning team.
Another consistent and reliable player, Sam Guerrero, displayed excellent bat-handling with a bunt single in the fourth inning. Collom is hoping for the best in a league title run, but as long as the players put forth the effort, he’ll be satisfied.
“It’s been a good experience so far and been a lot of fun,” he said.