Before the start of the American Legion state tournament, Bishop Gorman baseball coach Nick Day predicted that his team’s pitching would be the key to a state championship.
Starter Johnny Sewald substantiated that prediction on Saturday, striking out seven and scattering nine hits in 5 2/3 innings to carry the top-seeded Titans to an 11-3 victory over No. 3 Silverado in the tourney’s championship game at UNLV’s Wilson Stadium.
The win gave Gorman (42-8-1) its fifth state title in six years and earned the Titans a spot in the American Legion regional in Fairfield, Calif., scheduled for Thursday through Aug. 8.
“Pitching was big,” said Day, who also got a strong performance from starter Joey Gallo in Gorman’s 11-3 semifinal victory over Las Vegas on Friday. “We have a deep staff of four or five guys we can put out there to get stops.”
Sewald said he felt good from the start.
“I felt really well playing catch in the bullpen before the game,” said Sewald, who pitched his way out of jams in the first and second innings before settling down. “I came out in the first inning and just went after their hitters. That’s exactly what we needed to do tonight.”
Both teams had scoring opportunities in the early innings, but the game stayed scoreless until Joey Gallo launched his sixth home run of the tournament over the left-field fence. T.J. White followed with another solo blast, and the Titans led 2-0 after three innings.
As Sewald got stronger, so did Gorman’s offense.
The Titans took advantage of several Silverado miscues in the fourth, and Gallo capped the four-run inning with a two-run single to extend the lead to 6-0. Sewald blew it open in the fifth with another two-run single to make it 8-0.
Though both teams finished with 11 hits, Day credited his hitters for coming through at key moments.
“We got some big hits,” he said, “and the long ball is always nice.”
Silverado (21-10-1) finally got to Sewald in the sixth inning, scoring two-out runs on singles by Dylan Brand and Michael Myers. Reliever Cody Roper came in and cleaned up a bases-loaded mess after the Hawks made it 8-3 by scoring on a passed ball.
Gorman added a run in the sixth inning and two more in the eighth, and Roper kept Silverado’s offense at bay.
Day said he hoped the Titans would carry the momentum into the regional tournament.
“We feel good,” the coach said. “We’ve been there the last five years, so we know what it’s like. We feel like we can play with anybody.”
White hit for the cycle in five plate appearances and drove in two runs, and Gallo went 3-for-5 with three RBIs.
Brand and Morgan Stotts each had three hits to lead the Hawks.