Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - July 1, 2011

Stanford's Gaffney proves quite a hit for Oaks in his solid debut

by Colin Becht

Though the College World Series is over for him, Stanford outfielder Tyler Gaffney is still keeping busy despite settling into his offseason — if you can call any time of the year for the two-sport athlete an offseason.

When it comes to balancing time between his two sports, spring and fall are easy for Gaffney, a running back for the Cardinal football team, as well.

"I just go by season and put that as my priority," he says.

It's the in-between time like this summer that pushes Gaffney to the limit, forcing him to balance his training time between his two obligations. In addition to his workouts for football, Gaffney has also been playing for the Palo Alto Oaks' semipro baseball team, helping them to a two-game sweep over the San Jose Baysox this past Sunday in his debut appearance.

But with Stanford's baseball season finished after losing to North Carolina in the NCAA Super Regionals two weeks ago while the Cardinal football team looks to build off of its 12-1 record, the pigskin wins out for most of Gaffney's time.

"Football is coming up," Gaffney said. "That's what I'm focused on."

Although preparing for the upcoming football season may be Gaffney's top priority, he can't simply ignore baseball while many of his fellow teammates and opponents compete in summer leagues every day.

Gaffney said his time away from baseball has affected his ability to begin the season on a high note. In Stanford's first 11 games this year, Gaffney hit just .150, far below the .371 batting average he posted the rest of the season. In his freshman year, Gaffney wasn't given many of the early opportunities given to some other freshmen before eventually developing into a Pac-10 honorable mention selection.

"I've got to keep my swing going," Gaffney said of his decision to play summer ball. "I don't want to start slow like I have the past two years."

To do so means that Gaffney has to find time for baseball in between a full-time offseason training program for football. Currently, he is working out on his own, lifting and running, but will participate in summer workouts with the football team starting next week.

"I'm with them as much as I can," he says.

As for baseball, Gaffney said he'll just have to find opportunities to play and practice outside of the football schedule

"It's just on my extra time," he said.

Though Gaffney's dedication to both his sports may make his offseason anything but off-time, it has paid off for him on the field —or fields.

Gaffney carried the ball 60 times for the Cardinal this past season, amassing 255 yards and four touchdowns. He also caught a 52-yard touchdown pass that gave Andrew Luck his school-record 28th touchdown throw of the season. On the diamond, Gaffney has been named an All-Pac-10 honorable mention twice. He finished third on the Cardinal in both batting average and RBI while leading the team in slugging percentage this season.

So if Gaffney's multifaceted athletic achievements dictate the delicate juggling of training and games for two sports, he's just fine with that.

"I took a couple days off, but it's what happens when you play two sports," Gaffney says. "You don't really get many off days."

Gaffney made an immediate impact for the Palo Alto Oaks on Sunday. Gaffney, who hit safely in Stanford's last 22 baseball games this spring, tripled in his first at-bat with the Oaks and scored on a wild pitch.

He later added a double in support of Matt Campbell's two-hit shutout as Palo Alto beat the San Jose Baysox, 3-0, in the opener of a Western Baseball Association Stan Musial Division doubleheader at Baylands Athletic Center.

The Oaks won the nightcap, 13-2, in a five-inning game. Menlo College senior Jason Kleinhoffer from Palo Alto High recorded the win.

Campbell struck out nine in throwing the complete-game victory for the Oaks (10-0), who host Fontanetti's in a doubleheader Sunday beginning at 11:30 a.m. at Baylands. He did not allow a baserunner past first base.

Paly grad Evan Warner and Sam Wilkens each drove in an insurance run for Palo Alto. Gaffney and Gunn grad Greg Matson each had two hits.

In the second game, Anthony Bona doubled twice and drove in a pair of runs for the Oaks, who broke the game open with six runs in the second.

Palo Alto took advantage of three Baysox errors in the inning while Will Klein and Nick Borg each doubled.

In the fourth, Warner singled in Bryan Beres who had walked to begin the inning.

In the fifth, Allen Stiles led off the inning with a walk. After Wilkens singled, Bona doubled to drive in a run, Borg hit a sacrifice fly then ripped a double that scored Stiles. Klein's three-run double sealed the victory.

Brant Norlander and Graham Rodriguez each pitched an inning to finish the win.

In Sacramento during the weekend, the Menlo Park Legends won three of four games and improved to 14-5 this summer.

On Friday, the Legends defeated Pro Player Baseball, 6-1. The following day, Menlo Park dropped a 9-7 decision to the Auburn Hills Mudcats.

Sunday was huge for the Legends, who swept a doubleheader from the Seattle Studs, who finished second at last summer's National Baseball Congress World Series. Menlo Park won the opener, 7-6, before taking the nightcap, 3-1.

"It was very satisfying for me to beat the Studs this year," said Menlo Park manager David Klein. "This weekend marked the start of a very competitive stretch of games, and this was a great sign for us to take two games from the Studs, a really prestigious competitor. We always seem to bring our 'A' game versus quality competitors. I'm really optimistic as we go against the nationally recognized teams from Southern California in the near future."

Menlo Park's Pierson Jeremiah went 4-for-7 in the two games with a double and two RBI.

In the first game, outfielder Cody Larson capped a four-run fourth inning with a two-run double, putting the Legends up 7-0. The Studs made it interesting by scoring a run in the sixth and five in the seventh, but the Legends held on for a win.

Rich McCaffrey started Game 2 and went a solid five innings for the Legends, allowing three hits and striking out four batters.

Luke McCreesh came in and threw a perfect inning, and Corey Zirbes came in for the save threw another flawless inning. The Legends pitching staff combined for 14 strikeouts in the doubleheader.

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