Friday’s matchup between Wilcox and Los Altos pitted the 7-3 Chargers (fourth in De Anza) against the 3-7 Eagles (sixth in De Anza). After the first three innings, it looked like a game Wilcox would win going away. Chargers ace Jesse Gutierrez shut the Eagles down without allowing a base runner through the first two innings. In the third it was Gutierrez’s bases-clearing, three-RBI triple that extended the Chargers lead to 7-0.
Wilcox would carry an 8-0 lead into the fourth and a 10-3 lead into the fifth, but Los Altos responded by dropping a crooked number in the fifth, scoring four runs and getting right back into the game at 10-7. At that point the Wilcox bullpen needed to get just six outs while protecting a three-run lead, but they could not hold down the fort. The Eagles would fly all the way back to complete a miraculous comeback, winning in extra innings, 11-10.
“That was definitely a tough one,” said Wilcox Head Coach Matthew Huth on the loss. “We had an error at short that cost [Gutierrez] an extra 25 pitches in an inning. That got him a little tired there and the game just kind of got away from us there at the end.”
Huth noted that a couple of his go-to relief arms were not available due to injury which forced the coaching staff to go a bit different of a route than they otherwise would have on the mound. Free passes came back to haunt the Chargers.
“Something we can take away from that game is not walking guys in crucial spots,” said Huth. “We walked too many guys in the bottom half of their order. We gotta have that attack mentality and attack the zone.”
Gutierrez certainly attacked the zone early in this one. The junior struck out the side in the second inning and had four total strikeouts through the first couple innings, three of which were called strike threes on nasty breaking balls.
“My stuff on the mound, when I’m going well, nobody can touch me,” said the southpaw. “I use my two seam to righties, four seam to lefties, and I have a curveball, changeup and slider.”
The level of confidence shown from Gutierrez will need to be replicated by the rest of the team as the season winds down. The Chargers have just two games remaining, both against Los Gatos, who currently sits in second place. Key middle of the order hitters in Tyler Haruta, Alan Ramirez, Angelo Yslava and George Bouldt will need to help lead the way for Wilcox as they prepare to head into the CCS playoffs.
“George has really stepped up for us this year. He didn’t start at the beginning of the season, but he’s stepped it up on the mound and first base,” remarked Gutierrez. “Alan is my go-to guy on defense whenever I need a play behind me, he’s always got me and Angelo has such great range in the outfield. And then Tyler is our spark, he’s our captain.”
The Chargers will host Los Gatos on Wednesday, May 26 and close up the regular season at those same Wildcats on the 28th.