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Gonzalez Pilots St. Genevieve Win : Pitcher Stays on Earth Long Enough to Defeat Chaminade, 2-0

St. Genevieve pitcher Rick Gonzalez says he would like a career as an avionics technician once his baseball playing days are over.

But Gonzalez’s desire to work on the electronics of jumbo jets may have to wait because his baseball career is just beginning to take off.

He scattered four hits and struck out seven Tuesday in a 2-0 win over Chaminade at Branford Park in Arleta. Gonzalez improved his record to 7-1-1 with his third shutout of the season.

The victory allowed St. Genevieve (7-1-1, 10-5-1) to remain in first place in the Santa Fe League, one game ahead of La Salle. Gonzalez has been chief pilot in St. Genevieve’s trip to first place.

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The 5-8, 160-pound senior has stopped opponents with three pitches--fastball, slider and curve. He will throw each in any situation.

“I don’t do anything fancy,” Gonzalez said. “I’m not overpowering. I just try to move the ball around and get the outs.”

Much of Gonzalez’ strength--he has pitched seven complete games--is the result of his exemplary pitching mechanics. Gonzalez uses a compact windup with no wasted motion, allowing him to drive off the mound as hard as in the seventh inning as he does in the first.

Gonzalez’ real strength, however, is in his head.

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“Rick is tougher mentally this year,” said St. Genevieve Coach Dave Galarneau. “He doesn’t worry about the coaches getting on him if he makes a mistake.”

That’s because Gonzalez has rarely made a mistake this season. His only loss in league was a 9-4 decision to Chaminade.

Gonzalez was up for Tuesday’s rematch with the Eagles because his opponent was Pablo Suarez, who had beaten Gonzalez and the Valiants twice in the last two seasons.

“I’ve faced Pablo a couple of times and been disappointed,” Gonzalez said. “This was a game that was big to me.”

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Suarez (7-2) also pitched well--he had eight strikeouts--but surrendered a walk and three hits in the fourth inning, including a bases-loaded single to left by St. Genevieve’s Jeff De La Cruz that scored the only two runs in the game. Gonzalez, who came into the game batting .413, had two singles and scored the winning run.

“I’m glad I got those hits,” he said. “Because lately, my bat has been down.”

St. Genevieve has three games left, including the regular season finale against La Salle that shapes up as a league championship game.

“Rick’s getting stronger as the season goes on,” Galarneau said. “He makes the decision whether or not he wants the ball. As long as he wants it, we’ll give it to him.”

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