by Christopher Mohr
(EL CAJON) - A common baseball axiom states that good pitching always beats good hitting. Six innings of one-hit shutout pitching by Grossmont College starter Greg LaBarre made it difficult to argue with such reasoning. His dominant performance on the mound helped the Griffins to a 7-0 win Saturday over the visiting Lancers of Pasadena City College.
This game was the second of a split doubleheader for the Griffins. In the game preceding this one, the Griffins won 9-3 over the Coyotes of Cerro Coso College of Ridgecrest (Kern County). The games were part of the 17th Noel Mickelsen Invitational taking place this weekend.
LaBarre's numbers for the game paint a picture of total domination: six shutout innings; seven strikeouts and one walk. The only hit the southpaw yielded was an infield single by Mike Vasquez. He retired Lancer batters in order in five of the six innings he pitched and 60 of the 92 pitches he threw were strikes.
LaBarre commented on his performance: "I felt good, just relaxed and comfortable and trusted my defense to make the plays behind me and just throw strikes."
Grossmont head coach Randy Abshier was understandably impressed with LaBarre's pitching. "It's always on the mound, baseball starts on the mound. If you don't have somebody on the mound who is going to get you outs you're going to struggle. Today LaBarre threw a one hitter and the one hit came in the first inning," Abshier said, "In 92 pitches he only threw six off-speed pitches. He handled them well with his fastball, moving it in and out."
That's not to say this game was a cakewalk for LaBarre. A couple of Lancer batters proved to be troublesome for him. It took 10 pitches to retire Vincent Pantaleo, who worked the count full and fouled off four pitches before striking out in the top of the third. It took eight pitches to retire Kyle Wilkinson, the last batter LaBarre faced, in the sixth.
The only inning where Pasadena was a threat to score came in the second. After the aforementioned infield hit by Vasquez, George Gonzalez laid down a sacrifice bunt and Ryan Arnsberg drew a walk. The threat ended when LaBarre got Brian Smith to fly out right to end the inning.
The Griffins got on the scoreboard first with a run in the third inning largely because of their ability to take advantage of the gap created by having a runner on first. Ben Sarno led off the inning with a walk and later went to third on a well executed hit-and-run play by Chris Doyle. Kenny Belzer (Granite Hills HS) placed a ground ball just out of reach of Max Romero, who was holding Doyle on at first.
Grossmont added runs in the fourth and fifth innings, but blew the game wide open with a three-run sixth. That's when Jeremy Baum led off the inning with what many might call a 'little league home run'. He hit what looked like a routine fly ball to Wilkinson in center field. Wilkinson appeared to have lost the ball in the sun, allowing it to drop and for Baum to reach second. The blunder was compunded further when an errant throw went out of play and Baum was awarded home base as a result.
Pasadena coach Evan O'Meara, obviously not pleased with what happened, replaced Wilkinson with Garrett Adams in center field. O'Meara had a lot to be unhappy about in this game. His team gave up four errors and other fielding miscues such as a passed ball, wild pitch and a throw by Cameron Copping on a force play that came in too late to nail Baum at second.
Following Baum's unusual scoring play, Mike Stowers (Christian HS) singled, while Adam Ohlson (Grossmont HS) reached on an infield single. They both advanced a base on a sacrifice bunt by Sarno. Chris Doyle took advantage of the opportunity with a single that scored both runners and extended the Griffins' lead to 6-0.
Sarno doubled in the bottom of the eighth and later scored on a wild pitch to close out the scoring for the Griffins. After a frustrating 9-8 loss to West Los Angeles College on Friday, Grossmont came out on fire with the 9-3 win against Cerro Coso and this win.
"We lost yesterday, so we came out with a different mentality today," LaBarre said about the win, "we needed to make a statement and show we are a quality caliber team."
Grossmont College improved to 3-1 with the win and will play San Bernardino College next.
Christopher Mohr is a freelance writer in the San Diego area and is a huge fan of the Chargers, Padres and Detroit Red Wings in spite of the grief these teams give him.
Bottom of the third
GC - Ben Sarno reached first base on a walk with one out; Chris Doyle hit a ground ball single to right field, Sarno to third; Kenny Belzer singled, Sarno scored. GC 1, PCC 0
Bottom of the fourth
GC - Brian Palmer led off, reached first base on an infield single; Jeremy Baum reached first base on an infield single, Palmer to second; Alex Ohlson grounded to pitcher, reached first on a fielder's choice, no one put out; Sarno reached first on a fielder's choice 6-4, Ohlson out at second, Baum to third, Palmer scored. GC 2, PCC 0
Bottom of the fifth
GC - Taylor Eichorst doubled with one out; Ben Vasko singled, Eichorst scored. GC 3, PCC 0
Bottom of the sixth
GC - Baum reached second on fielding error by Kyle Wilkinson, errant throw went out of play, Baum awarded home and scored; Mike Stowers singled; Ohlson singled, Stowers to second; Sarno out on sacrifice bunt 1-3, Stowers to third, Ohlson to second; Chris Doyle singled, Stowers and Ohlson scored. GC 6, PCC 0
Bottom of the eighth
GC - Sarno doubled with one out; Doyle grounded out 4-3, Sarno to third, Sarno scored on wild pitch, GC 7, PCC 0