GILROY — Normally a 13-4 score wouldn’t make a coach happy, but Gavilan coach Neal Andrade was still smiling following the Gavilan baseball team’s season opener against San Joaquin Delta College Tuesday.
“It was eye opening,” Andrade said. “For them to get their feet wet, so to speak, against a good team I think is good. There were some bright spots, some negatives. Obviously it’s the first game out the gate, first game of the season and we’ve got to work out some kinks. ...We’re going to find ways to get better. We’ll go through the bad aspects of today’s game and the good ones, too.”
All three Rams pitchers that took the mound were rookies — including starter Matt Oxner. Oxner, a Pioneer alumni, hadn’t played baseball in two years before joining Gavilan this season and said it took him awhile to shake off the nerves and the rust.
“It was hard trying to keep everything under control,” Oxner said. “I was just trying to get strikes, trying to throw strikes. I was trying to get the ground balls, ground ball outs.”
Oxner put in five innings of work for the Rams, giving up 10 hits and eight runs — only five of which were earned runs. He also had two walks and two strikeouts.
“He had that rough (fourth) inning that had some defensive mistakes behind him, but he kept his composure,” Andrade said. “I think he’s going to be able to keep us in some games this year for sure.”
Gavilan was still in the ballgame, trailing 3-1 heading into the top of the fourth inning. But the Mustangs broke open the game, scoring five runs to jump out to an 8-1 lead. An error on the short stop Aaron Wallace started off the inning, which allowed SJD’s Kris Barlett to reach second. Bartlett and Jelanie Davie had already crossed the plate when centerfielder DJ Santellano committed the Rams’ second error of the inning to score two more runs. Connor Torres was the final run across the plate for the Mustangs in that inning.
The Rams showed signs of life in the bottom of the sixth, putting up three runs. Adam Kocina had a lead off single and advanced to third on a Danny Guiterrez single to right field. With two on and one out, Jake Conlan hit an RBI single to drive Kocina across the plate. Conlan and Guiterrez were able to advance to second and third, respectively, on an error by SJD catcher Collin Theroux. The duo were brought home after Richard Flores got on base off an error by Mustangs’ third baseman Connor Torres.
“All the balls (we saw) we were able to make contact. We made them make plays and they didn’t in certain occasions,” Andrade said. “All the contact was on the ground — hard ground balls, making them (make) defensive plays. An inning like that is something for us to kind of build on. ...(We have to) make good, solid contact on the ground and make them make plays.”
Conlan was 1 for 2 with a run, an RBI and a walk. Flores was 0 for 3 with two RBIs and a walk.
Gavilan’s other score came in the bottom of the third when Kocina reached on a fielder’s choice to send Wallace home from third.
Kocina was 1 for 4 with run and an RBI while Wallace was 1 for 2 with a walk.
The Rams will host a double header Friday against College of the Siskuyous. First pitch is slated for 11 a.m. with start time for Game 2 set for 2 p.m.
Erin Redmond can be reached at (408) 842-1694. Follow her on Twitter @DispatchERed.