music in the park san jose

Gavilan uses sparkling pitching, defense to outlast Seahawks
2-0; Gronor hurls eight shutout innings to spearhead victory
Scott Campbell Staff Writer

It was a throwback game, a reminder of how baseball used to be played. A good, old-fashioned pitchers’ duel. A contest in which sparkling defense abounded and runs were at a premium.

In the age of aluminum bats and eye-popping offensive numbers, it was the little things that mattered when Gavilan hosted Cabrillo Tuesday. And the Rams walked away with a 2-0 victory because they executed the small-ball gameplan to the end.

A riveting duel between Gavilan starter Eric Gronor and Cabrillo’s Paul Brock stretched on into the late innings, with both pitchers weaving their way through the lineup and using their defenders to ensure a long string of zeros on the scoreboard. The Rams finally broke through what had been a scoreless game through 7 1/2 innings with four hits in the eighth to pocket the victory.

“That’s our style of baseball this year. We’ve got to pitch and play good defense,” Gavilan head coach Neal Andrade said. “The defense is going to play better when you have a pitcher on the hill throwing strikes.”

And Gronor threw plenty of those. The second-year right hander kept Seahawk batters off balance all afternoon, using an effective change-up and slider to keep his infielders sharp and effective.

“I was just trying to get everyone groundballs,” said Gr1nor, who allowed four hits over eight shutout innings to even his record at 3-3. “The defense has been doing pretty good lately, so I just wanted to feed them groundballs.”

Third baseman Justin Baker spearheaded the Rams’ error-free defensive effort, coming up with several stops on hard-hit balls to deny Cabrillo batters extra-base hits to left.

After recording just four hits through the first seven innings, Gavilan (13-18) finally saw its bats come to life in the eighth. Shortstop Scott Mead reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to third on a hit-and-run single by left fielder Efrain Ruiz. James Molina followed with an RBI single to score the game’s first run and then catcher Seth Hudson provided Gavilan insurance with a double to left that drove in Ruiz and pushed the lead to 2-0.

“I guess we figured this was a do-or-die situation,” Hudson, a San Benito High alum, said of the late rally. “Eighth inning, the guys who want it the most will gut it out.”

Gavilan finished with eight hits on the afternoon and improved its Coast South Conference record to 7-11. Hudson led the offense by finishing 2-for-3 with two doubles and a walk. Mead went 2-for-4, the only other Ram to record multiple hits.

With Brock matching his Gavilan counterpart pitch for pitch, the outcome of this Coast Conference contest seemed destined to be decided in favor of whichever team scored first. Or at all.

Both offenses had their chances, but the pitchers worked their way out of jams effectively throughout the game. The Rams threatened first, putting runners on second and third with two outs in the second on the heels of a double by Mike Gatz and a walk by Nick Ramos. But Brock secured a groundout to end the threat.

Cabrillo (7-10 Coast Conference-North) struck next in the fourth, getting two singles and a steal to put two runners in scoring position with no outs. But Gronor calmly collected a groundout, an infield pop-up and a foul out over the next three batters to preserve the scoreless game.

A single, a hit batter and a sacrifice gave the Seahawks two chances to score the go-ahead run in the sixth, but two flyballs later, Gavilan again escaped a jam.

“We had a couple of good chances, but we didn’t get it done,” Cabrillo head coach Andy Messersmith said. “You can only pitch so good for so long. We didn’t put the pressure we needed to on ’em.”

Meanwhile, Gavilan put its leadoff batter on board in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, but saw Brock strand them all. The Cabrillo pitcher received a hard-luck loss, throwing a complete game and leaving eight Gavilan runners on base.

San Benito High graduate Brian Rossi recorded the last three outs to pocket the save for Gavilan.

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