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Senior Matt Gilbertson leads Gators to road win over Liberty

Senior Matt Gilbertson led Green Valley’s baseball team on the mound and at the plate Tuesday.

Gilbertson pitched six solid innings for the Gators, and hit a solo home run as Green Valley earned a 6-2 road win over Liberty.

“This is his third good start of the year,” Green Valley coach Corey Gehlken said. “I don’t know if this is going to sound cocky or stupid, but I don’t think he’s pitched his best yet. He’s battled for us and he’s one of our best guys, but I still don’t think we’ve seen his best performance yet.”

Gilbertson, who struck out four, is 3-0 for Green Valley (8-1, 4-0 Class 4A Sunrise League) to start the season with wins over Centennial and Basic. He’s also found his swing early on in the season.

“That’s the beauty of high school baseball; these guys are athletes,” Gehlken said. “Matt was our starting third basemen all last year and one of our best pitchers. He was our four-hole hitter last year and again this year. He just does a good job and has good approaches.”

While Gelhken says Gilbertson doesn’t go up to the plate looking for a home run, his solo shot Tuesday against Liberty (1-3, 1-2) followed a home run in his final at-bat last Thursday at Rancho.

“That was the last swing he took and the next one he comes and hits another one to the same exact spot,” Gehlken said. “So he’s seeing the ball pretty well right now.”

His solo shot Tuesday had the look of a double in the gap off the bat, but carried well enough to clear wall to give the Gators an early lead and kick off the five-run second inning the Patriots couldn’t answer.

“Honestly I didn’t think I hit it that hard, I think the wind helped me a little bit,” Gilbertson said. “I just kept my hands inside and got a barrel to it and kind of got under it. But the wind helped.”

Green Valley was helped by some fielding errors from Liberty in the second inning. After Gilbertson’s home run, senior A.J. Amelburu came to the plate with the bases loaded after two errors and a walk. Amelburu didn’t let the chance go by as he ripped a three-run triple to cap off the five-run inning for the Gators.

Liberty senior Michael Wong allowed five runs to score in his four innings on the mound, but his nine strikeouts still gave Green Valley things to work on.

“The goal of a high school baseball game, in my opinion, is to have three strikeouts on offense and I think we quadrupled that today,” Gehlken said. “But that’s one thing I love about this group. They’re going to know the answer before I do on what we did wrong today. They don’t look to blame anybody, they don’t look to point fingers. They own their mistakes and that’s how you fix them.”

Contact reporter Bill Slane at bslane@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4559. Follow @bill_slane on Twitter.

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