Give the ball to Gavin Kennedy, and get out of the way.
That has been a recipe for success for the Ocean View High baseball team this season.
On Friday afternoon, with first place in the Golden West League on the line, the Seahawks again turned to their senior right-handed pitcher bound for Cal State Fullerton.
Kennedy delivered, throwing a two-hitter as Ocean View beat defending champion Segerstrom 2-0 at home in a matchup of league unbeaten teams to move into outright first place.
“He is really, really good and that’s why he’s going to Fullerton,” Ocean View coach Tanner VanMaanen said. “He stepped up. We had a few injuries and didn’t get to play some of our guys today, but you put it on that guy’s shoulders, I have all of the confidence in the world. He’s been unbelievable for us and done exactly what he’s supposed to do.”
VanMaanen, who said he’s been sick since Wednesday, talked with a strained voice. He didn’t have much to say against Kennedy’s 100-pitch performance. Nobody could after the gem, in which Kennedy walked three, struck out four and hit a batter. He improved to 5-1 this season, VanMaanen said, and has given up just one run in his six starts.
Ocean View (9-6, 5-0 in league) and Segerstrom (8-3, 4-1) battled to a scoreless tie late into the game. Jaguars starting pitcher Nic Landeros-Sosa held the Seahawks without a hit through four innings, but he was pulled after allowing a leadoff walk to Ocean View’s Daniel Mayorga to open the bottom of the fifth inning. Anthony Capocciama pinch-ran for the Seahawks.
Segerstrom reliever Alejandro Peredo recorded two outs, before the Jaguars intentionally walked Ocean View leadoff hitter Caleb Hohman. Sean Muirhead was the next batter, and he singled to left.
The throw by Segerstrom left fielder Kristian Landeros-Sosa was in time, but catcher Donovan Orozco lost the ball on the tag just up the third-base line and Capocciama scored. Kennedy then helped his own cause, following with another single to left to score Hohman.
“That was the difference in the game,” said Segerstrom coach Erasmo Ramirez, who played three years in major league baseball as a relief pitcher. “They came up with the big hits with runners in scoring position, and we didn’t. All of the zeros on the scoreboard reflect that for us. You’ve got to tip your hat to Gavin. He threw the ball well. There’s a reason that kid is going to Cal State Fullerton. I thought our guys did a good job staying with him.”
The Seahawks took the 2-0 lead into the seventh, when Segerstrom tried to rally. Ezekiel Sandoval walked with one out, and Anthony Noriega reached on a fielder’s choice.
Edwardo Rodriguez’s single to center loaded the bases with two outs, but Kennedy was able to induce a game-ending groundout to shortstop.
“I felt actually pretty confident,” Kennedy said of the bases-loaded jam. “Thinking about it, they’re going to be shakier than I am. I feel like I have the experience. I’ve been doing this for a little bit … [This win] definitely gives us momentum in league and it gives us a lot of confidence. We needed this.”
Ocean View hosts Gardena Serra in a nonleague game Saturday at 11 a.m. The Seahawks play Segerstrom twice more to end the regular season, April 23 at Segerstrom and April 25 at Ocean View.
Ramirez said he definitely expects two more intense contests.
“It’s good all-around baseball,” he said. “We know it’s always going to be like the seventh game of the World Series when we go up against Ocean View High School.”