Sports

Gunn baseball holding on to first place in a turnaround season

 

The Gunn baseball team has made a complete 180 turnaround from its poor season last year. The Titans have transformed a 1-17 start last season to a 11-6-1 overall record so far this spring.

With the addition of three solid pitchers -- Ravi Levens, Justin Wenig, and David Clarke -- a team that finished dead-last in the SCVAL De Anza Division is now a team that is tied for the SCVAL El Camino Division lead and is driving for a possible Central Coast Section berth.

"Me and our other star, Justin Wenig, are healthy," said Levens. "We had a lot of young players last year. Three freshmen and one sophomore started. Those kids are older, bigger and stronger now and they're just smarter baseball players. That's helped a lot."

Pitcher David Clarke, who was a freshman at the time, was thrown into the fire a lot last season but gained a lot of exposure at the varsity level.

"He was only a freshman pitching varsity in the De Anza league," said Gunn head coach John Harney. "He got a lot of good experience. He did really well at the end."

Gunn was downed by visiting Cupertino, 4-1, in an SCVAL El Camino Division matchup Tuesday but remained in first place by a half game over the Pioneers (6-2, 12-6 overall). The Titans (7-2 league) still have a chance to make the playoffs with nine regular-season games left on the schedule.

In the past 10 years, Gunn has reached the CCS playoffs three times. The Titans lost their Division I opener in 2005, reached the Division II finals before losing in 2006 and lost in the Division II quarterfinals in 2012.

"It's going to be about pitching and playing defense," said Harney, who has been involved with the Gunn program since 1999. "Like it is with every team, we need to get ahead of guys and don't make a lot of mistakes. We're going to have to hit better than we did today. We've got some guys that can hit, we just hope the ball bounces our way."

The bats were quiet for the Titans all game as they rounded up only five knocks and left three men in scoring position.

Levens had a rough start in the first inning, allowing two walks, two wild pitches and a passed ball that scored a runner. Cupertino took a 1-0 lead after its first half of the inning.

In the second inning, the Pioneers got back-to-back RBI hits from Anthony Pozzetti and Ben Champion and Cupertino went up 3-0.

Cupertino tacked on another run when Josh Longabaugh hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Daniel Kono and opening it up to a 4-0 advantage in the third inning.

The Titans' pitching and defense were pretty solid. Levens surrendered only three earned runs through four innings and Clarke allowed two hits while giving up zero runs. The defense made a only a couple of errors.

The Gunn offense couldn't get going, however. In the fourth inning, junior Ben Roake lined a single to left, scoring sophomore Josh Radin from second base, but the other base runner from first base was thrown out trying to take third and Cupertino ended the inning.

"They hit, we just didn't hit today," said Harney. "Their pitcher threw very well."

The Titans will have a chance to redeem themselves and keep their CCS bid alive when they visit Cupertino this Thursday. Gunn hopes to keep its improved team in first place with a win against the Pioneers.

"We've got Wenig going," said Harney. "He threw a good game last time against Burlingame. We're going to try to take it to them like they took it to us. We're just going to go down there and try to play well."

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