Johnny Sewald didn’t throw a pitch for Bishop Gorman’s baseball team last high school season.
But this summer, the right-hander has announced his presence on the mound in a big way. And it’s a big reason the Titans are returning to the American Legion Western Regional.
“We kind of discovered him this summer,” Gorman coach Nick Day said of Sewald, who also plays center field. “We threw him out on the mound when we were short on pitching, and he’s been really good all summer. He’s been a nice kind of secret weapon to have.”
Not so secret anymore.
Sewald is 7-0 with a 2.67 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings, adding another piece to a deep pitching staff.
“Going out there and getting wins for the team is really the biggest thing,” said Sewald, who will be a senior at Gorman next season. “Both my dad and brother pitched, so they’ve been helping me. I’ve just been throwing strikes and getting people out.”
Gorman (42-8-1) opens the regional at 9 a.m. Thursday against Tucson (Ariz.) at Yarbrough Field in Fairfield, Calif. The eight-team, double-elimination tournament concludes Monday, with the winner advancing to the World Series that begins Aug. 12 in Shelby, N.C.
Fresh off its fifth Legion state title in six years, Gorman feels confident going into the regional. The Titans won regional titles in 2008 and 2009, and won the World Series in 2008.
“The success we’ve had in regionals before gives our guys a lot of confidence, not that we can just go there, but we can win,” Day said. “When they’re playing confidently, they’re a pretty good team.”
No Gorman player has been more confident at the plate than infielder Joey Gallo, who is entering his senior year. The 6-foot-5-inch slugger is batting .453 with 19 home runs and 53 RBIs.
Gallo, though, has to decide whether to play the entire regional or accept his invitation to play in the prestigious Area Code Games from Friday through Wednesday in Long Beach, Calif.
Gallo’s whirlwind summer has helped solidify his status as a likely first-round draft choice next June. He was the only player from Nevada named to the USA Baseball 18U National Team in July.
“It’s been a blur. It’s going by quick, faster than I thought it would,” Gallo said of his final high school offseason. “But it’s all fun. I’m trying to enjoy the moment and take it step by step.”
Even if Gallo is unavailable for the regional, the Titans shouldn’t be challenged offensively after scoring 71 runs in five state tournament games.
Sewald, the team’s leadoff man, has done his part by hitting .510 with two homers and 48 RBIs.
“What we’ve been doing lately is hitting the ball great. We’ve just been seeing pitches and not missing them,” Sewald said.
The Titans also have received a boost from keeping third baseman T.J. White and catcher Erik Van Meetren, two graduated seniors who have signed to play at UNLV.
Several players on Gorman’s roster experienced a Legion World Series two years ago, and Sewald wants to be next.
“I really hope to go to the World Series,” he said. “I personally have never done it, but our team has many times. I really want to get to Shelby and compete for a national title.”