Top-ranked Green Valley defeats No. 3 Coronado behind pitching, timely hitting

Green Valley coach Corey Gehlken knows a good baseball team is able to pull out wins in a variety of ways.

On Friday, it was timely hitting and a solid pitching performance from his senior right-hander.

The Gators finished with just four hits but got all of their runs on two outs, and Frankie Fitzgerald allowed two runs over six innings to help Southern Nevada’s top-ranked team pull out a 3-2 home win over No. 3 Coronado in a key Sunrise League game.

“That’s an excellent offensive job,” Gehlken said. “If you can get two-out hits and bear down when the pressure is the most, that shows a good team. You have to be able to win in all different aspects. We’ve won games in a lot of different ways this year, and today was just about winning with timely hitting and good pitching and defense.”

Coronado scored in the top of the first inning on an RBI single to left by Kyle Hall, but Green Valley (13-1, 9-0) quickly answered with two runs in the bottom half to take its first lead of the game. With two outs, Gavin Amelburu reached on a throwing error and came around to score on a double to left-center field by Matt Gilbertson.

Drake Maningo added an RBI single to center field to give the Gators a 2-1 lead.

Fitzgerald, who finished with four strikeouts and no walks, had his only lapse of the game a couple innings later when Coronado loaded the bases with no outs on a hit batsmen and consecutive singles. But after a mound visit, Fitzgerald escaped the jam giving up only one run and was dominant the rest of the way. He got a 4-6-3 double play and struck out out Hall to end the inning with the score tied 2-2.

“We sent a guy up so, obviously, I was thinking about (relieving him),” Gehlken said. “But at the end of the day, you go with the guys you trust and have been succesful with. And I trust Frankie wholeheartedly.

“He’s a fighter and a competitor. If you give him the ball, you know he’s going to fight every single pitch for you. And that’s what you want as a coach.”

Fitzgerald, using his off-speed and breaking pitches, gave up three hits over the next three innings and allowed just one runner to get into scoring position before Joe DiGiacomo came on in the seventh to earn the save.

“It’s awesome (to beat Coronado),” Fitzgerald said. “It’s probably the team we like least. We don’t really like them. They don’t like us, so it’s always fun to play them.”

Jake Empey scored on a two-out RBI single by No. 9 hitter Matt Uran in the bottom of the fourth for the go-ahead run.

“Matt’s a senior for us and he’s done a really great job,” Gehlken said. “He got a good pitch to hit and took a good swing on a quality pitcher and executed.”

Jake McLean went 3-for-4 with a triple and a run, and Christian Herrera doubled for Coronado (9-4, 6-2).

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