JUCO Baseball: Gavilan claim Coast South crown

The Gavilan baseball team poses for a picture after beating Hartnell 10-5 Thursday at home.

GILROY—Bryant Cid was one of several Gavilan College baseball players who returned this season looking to take care of some unfinished business. A year ago, the Rams started the season strong only to taper off toward the end and miss their shot at the playoffs.
Not this time.
On April 23, Gavilan not only punched its ticket to the postseason, but clinched the Coast South Conference title after beating Hartnell 10-5 at home. It’s the first time the Rams have won a championship since 1979. Gavilan (23-12) earned the No. 8 seed in the NorCal playoffs, and hosts No. 9 Cosumnes River (23-13) in a best-of-three series starting on Friday. 
“Looking at all my teammates and what we accomplished and where we’ve been, it’s just truly amazing,” Cid said. “It’s kind of hard to explain … Coming here and finishing the job from our freshmen year for the sophomores, it really feels special.”
Dynamic defense and stellar pitching have been the cornerstones of Gavilan’s success this season, and the team brought both in its matchup with the Panthers.
Sophomore Gabe Katich pitched six solid innings, allowing four runs on nine hits while striking out five and walking two. Erik Barron, also a sophomore, closed out the game, tossing a perfect final inning for the Rams.
And when the final out was recorded, the Gavilan players swarmed their pitcher on the mound.
“(I was just thinking) don’t give up any hits—three up, three down,” Barron said. “That’s all that was on my mind and I’m glad we got it done.”
The Rams jumped on Hartnell right out of the gate. Cid homered over the left field fence on just the second pitch of the game, kick-starting a four-run first inning.
A walk, a single and an error loaded the bases for freshman Matt Peterson. Peterson reached on another error by the Hartnell first basemen to score John Forestieri and Tony Amaral. Barron came home on a passed ball to give the Rams a 4-1 lead.
Peterson struck again in the bottom of the second, hitting a two-run single to deep left field to score Barron and Amaral. Two batters later, Rex Lagman singled to score Peterson and put Gavilan ahead 7-1.
Peterson led the team by going 3 for 4 with four RBIs and a run.
“I was trying to keep my hands in the zone and get the ball up. I thought we did a good job getting people on base to score runs,” Peterson said. “We’ve had this family mentality all year. We knew we would do it.”
Both benches were silent until the top of the sixth inning when Hartnell put up a three spot off back-to-back RBI singles from Jose Guzman and Matt Flores. Katich kept his composure on the mound and forced the Panthers to strike, fly and pop out, stranding two runners.
“Gabe (Katich) battled through. The pitchers at this point in the season are all tired; they’re all fatigued. For him to get us through those six innings and still have the lead was great,” Gavilan coach Neal Andrade said.
The Rams defense complimented the pitching. Cid made two stellar plays in right field, including gunning down a Hartnell player at third base in the top of the eighth to end the inning. He made a similar play in the top of the second as he hustled to cut off a Hartnell runner at second for the third out.
“That shuts down innings,” Andrade said of Cid’s assists. “Plays like that not only get an out, but it’s just demoralizing for the other team. He had some big plays that just spoil any threat that they had.”
Cid was also vital on offense, scoring two runs in addition to an RBI, a homer and a stolen base.
The Rams shut the door on Hartnell in the bottom of the eighth. With Cid on third and Amaral on second, John Forestieri singled to score Cid. Amaral took advantage of a wild pitch and sped home for a score. 
And they weren’t done yet. 
Barron took a big swing and sent the ball deep into center field to score John Forestieri for the final run.
Forestieri finished 3 for 4 with two runs, an RBI and a sacrifice. Barron was 2 for 4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Rex Lagman and Brennan Wilson each had two hits a piece.
Hot bats, solid defense and stellar pitching don’t just happen overnight, however. Andrade said his assistant coaches—Bob Reggiani, Alan Andersen, Kyle Bennett, Rob Sanchez, Noel Provost—were instrumental to the team’s success with recruiting and on the field guidance.
“Game-to-game, day-to-day, this is only accomplished with the help of my assistant coaches,” said Andrade, who has coached the Rams since 2003. “Right now, it’s hard for me to even think about the game. It’s just about where the program has been … It’s just kind of fun to sit back and try to enjoy it.”
Said Cid: “We need to win this. We need to continue this. We to win this for Gav, for Gilroy and for ourselves and everyone.”

Leave your comments