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Gahr’s offense hits brick wall against Paramount in league opener

SAN GABRIEL VALLEY LEAGUE BASEBALL

By Loren Kopff

It was a San Gabriel Valley League opener that had the intensity of a game in the final week of the regular season with first place on the line. Gahr senior ace Andrew Encinas was given the ball opposite Paramount’s Ulices Moreno in what turned out to be a classic pitcher’s duel.

Unfortunately for Encinas, he didn’t get the run support he’s accustomed to getting out of the normally bruising Gladiator offense. Paramount scratched across a fifth inning run and it held as Moreno and reliever Frankie Valenzuela combined on a one-hitter to blank Gahr 1-0 last Friday at Tom Bergeron Field.

“I liked the way we prepared,” said Gahr head coach Gerardo Perez. “I knew what they were going to do and what we were going to do. We didn’t execute our approach and our plan at the plate. Their pitcher did a good job of jumping ahead strike one and we didn’t do very much with it.”

Encinas faced the minimum through the first four innings, walking Aaron Pleitez in the second inning but he would eventually get caught stealing. Then with one out in the top of the fifth, Jose Ruiz and Pleitez singled off of Encinas. After a sacrifice moved the runners over, Jose Montalvo’s base hit to right scored Ruiz.

Encinas (2-1) would still go the distance for the second straight game, allowing only four hits and striking out seven batters.

“He pitched great; he’s pitched great all year,” Perez said. “His numbers are phenomenal. He’s done a good job and hopefully this motivates him to work even harder and stay positive with his teammates.”

As for Gahr’s offense, it had only one base runner through the first five innings. Junior center fielder Jamie Estrada reached on an error to begin the bottom of the second. But he was doubled up on a failed bunt attempt. With two outs in the fourth, senior third baseman Kevin Franklin sent a deep ball to left field which was caught at the wall by Montalvo.

The best chance for Gahr to score came in the sixth when junior designated hitter Octavio Lara was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a sacrifice from senior second baseman Edgar Morales. But the play of the game came when senior pinch hitter Dominic Bueno bunted back to Valenzuela who threw to third to get Lara for the second out. It proved to be critical because senior shortstop Adonis Morrison followed with Gahr’s lone hit, a blooper to the left field gap. Three pitches later, sophomore right fielder Joe Dressel flew out to center to end the threat.

“You would like to think that you can take care of your home games,” Perez said. “Unfortunately we haven’t done a very good job of that. Hopefully we’ll improve and we’ll do a better job of practicing. Right now, my focus is that.”

Gahr (4-3 overall, 1-1 in league) rebounded this past Tuesday with a 3-0 win at Downey as senior Greg Humbert, a transfer from Mayfair, threw a one-hitter for his first win in three starts this season. Gahr will host Dominguez today, St. Paul on Saturday and Lynwood on Tuesday before travelling to Warren on Thursday.

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