The first-place Capuchino baseball team went to San Mateo to face arguably the hottest team in the Bay Division in Aragon.
The Dons came into Wednesday’s contest riding a six-game winning streak, but the Mustangs had their four-year ace, Devin Meyer, going on the mound.
Meyer may be the known quantity, but it was Aragon hurler Junior Gudino who stole the show. The senior lefty was masterful in throwing a complete game, as Aragon won its seventh-straight game, 7-1.
“Junior did a great job,” said Aragon manager Lenny Souza, adding Gudino gave up only one earned run during his sophomore year on junior varsity. With Wednesday’s win, Gudino is now 5-2.
“We’ve seen this for three years and no one else has seen it yet.”
By all accounts, Gudino wasn’t even at his best, yet he limited Capuchino (7-2 PAL Bay, 15-4 overall) to just one run while scattering nine hits, none of which were hit particularly hard.
“How many times have I heard, ‘It’s the fourth inning. Why aren’t we hitting this guy?’” Souza said. “He competes his ass off. … He gives us an edge.”
Meyer wasn’t bad on the afternoon. He only gave up a couple of loud hits, but the Dons proved there is more than one way to score runs.
Aragon (6-3, 10-6) scored six of its seven runs in the second inning and they were six of the quietest runs you’ll ever see as the Dons sent 10 batters to plate. The Dons scored six times on four hits, only two of which left the infield — an RBI triple from Ty Barrango, followed by an RBI double from Jace Jeremiah.
Otherwise, it was a litany of small ball. Ethan Casas-Wu led off with single, Patrick Mori walked and Ryan Fernandez bunted his way on to load the bases. Jack Fitzgerald, whose brain freeze in the top of the inning resulted in Capuchino’s only run of the game, atoned for it by drawing an RBI walk to tie the game at 1.
Zach Harte followed with an RBI groundout to third, which was bobbled. Danny Geller then hit a routine grounder to shortstop, who went to second with his throw.
Unfortunately for the Mustangs, there was no base runner at first. Geller was safe with an RBI and a 3-1 Aragon lead. Fitzgerald then scored on the back end of a double steal to put the Dons up 4-1.
Following a popout for the second out of the inning, Barrango came up and hit a ball into the left-center field gap. With the wind swirling at Aragon’s diamond, both Capuchino left fielder Nick Gomez and center fielder Ryan Choi chased down the ball, clipping each other enough to allow the ball to fall in for an RBI triple.
Jeremiah followed with the hardest hit ball of the game, drilling a double off the fence in the right-center field gap to drive in Barrango with the sixth run of the inning.
The Dons tacked on another run in the sixth, with Darren Randolph, who had singled and moved to second on a walk, came around to score on Casa-Wu’s infield hit into the hole at second base.
“Offensively, it was a collective effort,” Souza said.
After that, it was Gudino’s job to keep the lead safe. While he wobbled through some innings, he always escaped unscathed. After a Ryan Lordier fielder’s choice in the second inning drove in Ryan Lapuyade for their only run of the game, Gudino did not allow a Mustangs runner to third base over the final five frames.
“Every time I thought (six runs) wouldn’t be enough, [Gudino] would shut them down,” Souza said.
After working a perfect third, Gudino ran into some trouble in the fourth, giving up three hits. But a perfect relay from Aragon left fielder Fernandez to Jeremiah to second baseman Geller gunned down a runner at second to thwart a potential rally.
In the fifth, the Mustangs again were trying to rally, as Choi and Gomez led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Following a flyout to center, and Choi going to third, the Dons came up with the sequence of the game. Gudino struck out Justin Verna for the second out of the inning and catcher Harte threw out Gomez attempting to steal second for a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out end to the inning.
“That was huge,” Souza said.
Gudino allowed only two more hits over the final two innings to seal the victory.
“He slows bats down. He makes pitches,” Souza said of Gudino. “He mixes speeds so well. … He’s deceptive.”
More importantly for the Dons, the win tightens up the race for a Bay Division title. Capuchino started the day with a one-game lead over Burlingame and two over the Dons. Aragon’s win, coupled with the Panthers’ 6-2 loss to Carlmont, means the Mustangs hold a one-game lead over both Burlingame and Aragon.