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CIF: Gahr handles adversity on the road following easy wild card win

CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION DIVISION III BASEBALL PLAYOFFS

English: State Seal of the California Intersch...

English: State Seal of the California Interscholastic Federation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Loren Kopff

GARDEN GROVE-After blasting Beverly Hills 11-0 in a California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division III wild card game on May 21, Gahr head coach Gerardo Perez was anxious to see how his team would face adversity on the road. The eighth ranked Gladiators were facing Garden Grove League champion Garden Grove, which had the same number of victories, 20, as they had.
Despite stranding 11 runners on base including the bases loaded in the top of the second, the Gladiators conquered the adversity and got the timely hits they needed to scratch out a 3-1 first round victory last Friday afternoon under windy conditions. If anything, Perez can credit the team for having a solid practice last Thursday.
“What I do know is we won 11-0 and the next day was one of the best practices we had all year long,” Perez said. “Even though we won 11-0, that game never existed. We still have to do stuff right, in which we do. We’re not going to hit a three-run homer; there’s not going to be a three-run homer to make up for any mistake.
“When you play the game, the game doesn’t know that when you show up at the ballpark, what you did against Beverly Hills means nothing to them,” he later added.
The Argonauts grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when senior George Castillo hit his counterpart, Eddie Carranza, to lead off the frame. Later in the inning and with two outs, Beto Vasquez hit a chopper up the middle to bring in Carranza. But after that, Castillo was solid.
He would allow only three runners the rest of the way, none of them getting to second base. In addition, he got some nifty defensive plays behind him. The first came when sophomore catcher Victor Salazar picked off Andy Nguyen who tried to steal second in the third inning. Then with one out in the fourth, senior third baseman Nick Guerra made a sliding catch in between Castillo and Salazar. Castillo went the distance, striking out five and scattering four hits. He retired 14 of the last 16 he faced.
“It was a tremendous performance,” Perez said. “When you talk about George Castillo and his time at Gahr, you use the word poise; making the pitch when he has to make the pitch. Both are signs of previous great pitchers who have come through the program including his dad [George Castillo Sr.], who was a left-handed pitcher in the late 1980’s.”
Gahr broke through in the third inning to take a 2-1 lead. With one out, Carranza walked sophomore designated hitter David Balboa, who would find his way to third after a sacrifice from junior first baseman Rafael Alvarez and a wild pitch. Sophomore shortstop Jesus Salazar was hit by a pitch and advanced on the same wild pitch that moved Balboa.
Then on a 1-2 count, junior left fielder Joe Dressel singled to left to plate both runs. In the next inning, Carranza walked Guerra and with two outs, Balboa’s run-scoring single to right capped off all of the scoring Gahr needed. Dressel had two of Gahr’s six hits.
“We didn’t play, offensively, our best game,” Perez said. “But this isn’t an easy place to hit. Obviously the wind was in our face, but with all that said, I’m very content with the effort and the commitment. Those two things helped to get us through today.”
Gahr hosted Temescal Canyon this past Tuesday in a second round game and posted a 4-2 victory as Castillo picked up his first save of the season in relief of senior Octavio Lara. Gahr improved to 22-10-1 and will host unranked Redondo Union today in a quarterfinal game. The Seahawks upset second ranked Bonita 6-4 this past Tuesday. This marks the third straight season and four out of the last five that Gahr has advanced at least to the quarterfinals.

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