Ground control: Poland’s Garayua
handcuffs Hubbard in AAC victory
By Greg Gulas
Heading into Thursday’s game with Hubbard High School, Poland baseball coach Rich Murray noted that despite their 6-2 record, his Bulldogs were still struggling to put together a complete game.
A 9-1 All-American Conference win over the Eagles on their home field might go a long way in correcting some of those early season shortcomings.
Vince Garayua tossed a complete game two-hitter in his first start of the season, striking out four while facing just two batters over the minimum as Poland (7-2) stopped Hubbard’s five-game win streak.
He also forced Hubbard batters into 12 ground-ball outs and did not walk a batter.
“I felt really good when I was warming up prior to the game and knew my off-speed was working right from the beginning,” Garayua said. “I tried to throw strikes, knew I had a good defense behind me and just let them play. I thought that I could go the distance after the first batter that I faced. Throwing strikes and staying ahead in the count was the key.”
Murray lauded Garayua for his poise.
“Vinny did a great job and he’ll get more opportunities because he threw strikes and pitched so well today,” he said. “Hats off to Vince and our offense because our hitting is finally coming around. I think we’re hitting the ball a little better and today we hit the ball on the barrel of our bats.
“Howland’s pitching really shut us down the last couple of days and while I was nervous about our hitting, we showed some signs of life today and that tells me that we’re getting better.”
The Bulldogs struck first in the first inning when lead-off batter Don Drummond walked, advanced to third on two wild pitches and raced home after Braden Olson executed a perfect delayed steal with Drummond.
They scored more three times in the third inning to increase their margin to 4-0, the big blow in the frame a Don Drummond bases loaded walk as Olson, Pad O’Shaughnessy and Dan Klase scored.
Olson had two singles and scored a run, reaching base safely four times in his five at-bats.
“Vin just threw a lot of strikes, didn’t walk anyone and only gave up one run. We were good on defense and offensively, I just kept looking for a good pitch to drive:” Olson said. “It’s a lot easier to play the field when you have a guy on the mound who throws strikes.”
Poland made it a 6-0 advantage in the fifth frame when Dom Drummond’s single plated Cole Kosco, followed by identical twin Don’s sacrifice fly that scored Reed McCreery.
McCreery finished with three hits in the game, including a double.
“I was just trying to do what’s best for our team, trying to put the ball in play and create some scoring opportunities,” McCreery said. “A great pitching performance was what we needed today and Vinny really came through in that area today.”
Hubbard (6-3) avoided a shutout with a run in the fifth inning.
Anthony Laird singled with one away, took second on a wild pitch, moved to third on Caleb Johnson’s groundout then raced home on a throwing error.
“With a doubleheader tomorrow, this was tough one for us pitching-wise,” Hubbard head coach John Schiraldi said. “I wanted to see what Anthony [Corrin] could do because he pitched really well the last time out. We didn’t field the ball well today and when you get just two hits, you aren’t going to win too many games.”