Italy — The JV Gladiators tried to make the most of a home game against the visiting Red Oak Life Mustangs with plenty of fans on hand offering their support.
Head coach Jon Cady got support from assistant coaches Jackie Cate and Brandon Ganske. ROL lead early 2-1 but the Gladiators battled back to take a 4-3 advantage. Italy’s Hunter Ballard hit an RBI single to score Colin Newman to increase Italy’s lead 6-3. Ballard thought about turning the single into a double but was forced to scamper back to the bag with Coach Cate pointing out the bag’s location.
After a strong start, pitcher Eli Garcia began to fade so he was relieved by Cody Boyd who took over on the mound. Boyd, who was more like a third assistant coach Monday night, looked comfortable atop the hill. The Mustang’s, however, would not allow Italy to steal back their new found momentum and soon overtook Italy on the scoreboard.
A walk earned by Pedro Salazar helped push the runners around with Boyd eventually sliding across home plate to beat the throw home for Italy’s final run. Salazar was stopped at third but, as he trotted off the infield, Salazar was all smiles as he leaped into the waiting arms of fellow teammate and first baseman Tristan Cotten. Why the fuss? Salazar was tagged out at third.
Cotten celebrated with Salazar the rookie’s earned walk and the fact he almost made it to third, with those moments being some of Salazar’s first game experiences. The celebration may have seemed bizarre to the Mustangs but Salazar couldn’t hide his smile and Cotten did not hesitate in helping his teammate enjoy the moment.
Notable efforts were also turned in by freshman catcher Kenneth Norwood, Jr., who continues to add to his solid year in Italy sports, Mason Womack, who makes things happen on offense and Samuel Corley, who got on base with a walk and played some first base as well. Jorge Rodriguez, in right, and Michael Hughes, in left, did their jobs when needed but Joseph Celis, and later Garcia, were not really challenged in centerfield.
Jorge Galvan had a strong game at shortstop and was successful as a batter while Austin Crawford was more than willing to shetland the ’Stangs.
The Mustangs eventually rallied back to win 16-7 but the night belonged to the JV Gladiators and Salazar who have set the tone for another exciting season of JV Gladiator baseball.