In the fifth inning Tuesday, Ryan Martinez stepped up to the plate with two outs and Matt Liddell on base with Gilman clinging to a 1-0 lead over Mount Saint Joseph.
The Greyhounds got all the insurance they needed with one swing. Martinez hit a two-run home run off Gaels left-hander Jackson Bauer, powering Gilman to a 3-0 victory.
For the University of San Francisco signee Martinez, it was all about taking a strong approach against the steady lefty.
“I’ve heard a lot about him, and some of my guys have played with him and against him,” Martinez said. “He’s a great pitcher and he worked a lot with his breaking ball and got his stuff over and struck a lot of guys out. He’s a great pitcher and we’ll definitely be looking out for him in the postseason.”
Gilman (9-5, 8-3 MIAA) was paced by a strong pitching performance by Peter Heubeck, who struck out nine while allowing four hits and four walks in seven innings. Speicher left several runners stranded on base and kept a steady hand when under fire.
“I think as a team, we did a really good job of damage control,” Heubeck said. “I didn’t have my best stuff during the first couple of innings, but I settled in and we made good plays when it mattered. It was a good win.”
Most importantly in Heubeck’s victory was his team’s ability to play strong defense behind him. Whether it’s a double play to get out of a jam or a play in left field to take away a sure double, Gilman coach Larry Sheets preaches to his team to make defensive plays.
“That’s the beauty of baseball,” Sheets said. “All you can do is put a good swing on the ball and where it goes after that, you don’t know. We did get a nice double play, we did get a couple of other plays — I’d put our left side of our infield against anybody’s. They’re pretty good.”
Gilman struck in the second inning with a double by Adam Hicks. Two batters later, with Owen Holmgren at bat, Hicks scored on a throwing error by Bauer to give Gilman a 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the fifth, Liddell walked for Gilman and Matt Leikus immediately grounded out. However, Martinez cleaned up with a home run over the left-field fence for the 3-0 lead.
Mount Saint Joseph (8-5, 5-5) was held to one final hit, a double by Zachary Wainio, in the seventh inning.
Bauer had a strong outing despite the loss. The Mount Saint Joseph lefty allowed three runs on four hits in six innings with four walks and six strikeouts. Gaels skipper Phillip Kraska was pleased with his starter’s day, but mentioned that his lineup needed to give him more run support.
“Jackson has been a good competitor all year,” Kraska said. “He keeps us in ballgames and stays cool under pressure, doesn’t blink — he made a bad pitch that went over the fence over there. Other than that, he was really tough all day and I’m really proud of his effort. We’ve just got to be able to make adjustments offensively to get him some runs.”