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John Glenn takes advantage of Gahr’s depleted pitching staff, doubles up Gladiat

ST. PAUL EASTER TOURNAMENT

By Loren Kopff

Two of the area’s strongest baseball teams faced each other in pool play action of the annual St. Paul Easter Tournament when Gahr hosted John Glenn last Saturday morning. What figured to be a low scoring affair on paper turned out to be just the opposite.

Glenn scored five runs in the top of the fifth inning and put the game away in the final inning as the Eagles knocked off the Gladiators 8-4. It was the first time since Mar. 8, 2005 that these teams had faced each other, and that came in an El Segundo Tournament game. Other than that, Glenn had faced a San Gabriel Valley League opponent five times since 2000 while Gahr was opposite a Suburban League foe for the 10th time since 1998.

Despite not facing the Gladiators in 10 years, the victory was a signature one for the Glenn program, which has been a contender for the league crown for two seasons. The win definitely brought a smile to head coach Jack Brooks, who saw his ace pitcher, senior Victor Sanchez, go six innings and scatter seven hits.

“They’re the best team in the area, without a doubt,” Brooks said of Gahr. “I know we didn’t see their best arms today. But what [Gahr head coach Geraldo Perez] has done for the past 10 years is…he’s built a top program with him and La Mirada. For us to come in here and get a win is huge for our school and the city of Norwalk.”

Gahr sent junior David Molino to the mound for the first time this season and he was brilliant in his three innings of work, yielding a pair of hits and striking out two while throwing 27 pitches. Perez was monitoring Molino’s pitch count due to the fact that the Gladiators had split a doubleheader with Corona just two days prior with each game going nine innings.

“In life, sometimes you meet challenges head on and I’m very excited that he met the challenge head on and not only that, but asked for innings two and three,” Perez said. “Because going into it, I didn’t know what to expect and I wanted to make sure that…I didn’t want to have anybody hurt, which is part of not bringing anybody back today after throwing 18 innings, playing two games on Thursday.”

“You have to give him credit; he was throwing a good breaking ball,” Brooks said. “He was mixing in a good breaking ball and he was spotting up that outside corner. We weren’t being very patient. I think we had a lot of first pitch outs and a lot of fly ball outs. He did a good job.”

The Gladiators took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning when senior first baseman Rafael Alvarez and senior second baseman Alberto Avila singled around a strikeout. A base hit from junior third baseman Jesus Salazar plated Alvarez and a sacrifice fly from senior designated hitter Jorge Rivas brought in Avila.

But the Eagles finally got their bats going against Rivas, the third of four Gahr pitchers in the game, in the fifth. With two outs and freshman second baseman Humberto Chiquito already on base, Rivas walked junior center fielder Sammy Lopez and Sanchez to load the bases. A walk to senior shortstop Jake Carr put Glenn on the board.

Rivas then hit senior catcher Luis Rosas to bring in Lopez and a walk to junior right fielder Hector Sanchez put Glenn in front, 3-2. Senior first baseman Erick Galindo added a run scoring double off of sophomore David Martin.

Gahr crept back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth when senior catcher Joe Dressel singled and senior right fielder Leotis Johnson doubled with one out. Dressel would come home on a wild pitch and Johnson was brought in on a sacrifice fly from junior center fielder Oscar Carvajal.

But the Eagles iced the game with three unearned runs in the seventh as Martin walked three batters, Rosas reached on an error and senior designated hitter Tony Varoz singled in a pair of runs. While not at his best, Victor Sanchez still picked up his fourth win in his seventh outing of the season. He also struck out seven.

“There was a miscommunication on a pitch call that hurt us on that single that brought in the first run [in the third inning],” Brooks said. “It could have been an E-6; it kind of jumped up on Jake. But that’s what a quality kid does. He didn’t have his best velocity today. He didn’t really have a command of his off speed stuff but he still got through it through six innings against a quality team without his best stuff. That’s what a pitcher does.”

“I think he competed,” Perez said. “I’m sure he’s been better on better days. But he threw strikes and competed and gave them a chance to win. I think he did a noble job on that aspect of it.”

He, Galindo and Varoz all had a pair of hits as Glenn (9-6) would lose to Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks 5-4 this past Monday and Narbonne 13-1 this past Tuesday. The Eagles will visit Norwalk on Wednesday in the front end of a home and home series with the Lancers to resume league play.

As for the Gladiators (9-7), Avila went three for four and Jesus Salazar added a pair of hits but the team would fall to Carson 6-5 this past Monday before routing Paraclete 13-2 this past Tuesday. Gahr, which will travel to Warren on Tuesday to open up San Gabriel Valley League action in the front end of a home and home series, entered its game with Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary this past Wednesday losing four of its last seven.

“I’ve never had 18 innings, period, let alone two days before you play a third game,” Perez said of last week. “The kids who threw on Thursday were also two-way guys, meaning they played a position and pitched prior.”

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