By Jeremy Balan
Behind six shutout innings from senior left-hander Anthony Villamore and a four-RBI game from third baseman Oliver Gutchinov, visiting Sacred Heart Cathedral remained undefeated in non-league play with a 10-2 win over Half Moon Bay on Saturday.
Villamore retired the first 11 Cougar batters before an infield single from Half Moon Bay’s Shane Whitting broke up the early bid for a perfect game.
“That was the best he’s thrown,” Sacred Heart Head Coach Brian Morgan said of Villamore. “He kind of breezed through the first five innings.”
Villamore (3-0) hasn’t allowed a run in 17.2 innings this season and has held opponents to just a .167 batting average.
“I just wanted to come out and have some fun today,” Villamore said. “The curveball wasn’t really working today, but I felt pretty confident with the fastball, so I stuck with that.”
Even when Villamore did allow batters to reach base, he often erased them with a deceptive pickoff move.
“He has a great move to first base,” said Half Moon Bay Head Coach Steve Terrazas. “He basically shut down our running game. We got a couple of guys on and he’d pick them off right away. That will demoralize your team pretty well.”
While the Villamore was holding off the Half Moon Bay bats, the Irish lineup used patient plate appearances to tack on runs consistently throughout the game.
The Sacred Heart lineup worked nine walks in the game, to put constant pressure on the Cougars pitching staff. Six of the walks came off Half Moon Bay starter David Moody, who struggled with command and allowed four runs off four hits in four innings pitched.
“Some days he’s right on location. Today he wasn’t,” Terrazas said. “I don’t know what it is. Some days he’s hitting his spots well, other days, he’s right off the plate.”
The Irish (6-0-1) were led offensively by Gutchinov, who batted 3-for-4 with four RBIs out of the ninth spot in the lineup.
“He’s been in and out of the lineup, but we’ve gotten really good production out of our nine hitter so far, so hopefully it continues,” Morgan said. “It doesn’t have to be the three-four guys [in our lineup], it can be the eight, nine, one guys and that’s who it was today. He’s a senior and we’re looking for production down there.”
Half Moon Bay (2-5) did its best to battle back in the seventh, rallying for two runs, but ultimately fell short.
“I was proud of them that they didn’t quit. They didn’t roll over and die,” Terrazas said. “I wish we could start playing in the first inning like we played in the sixth and seventh innings. That’s kind of been our MO in the last few games. We’ll get down early and battle back late, but by then we’ve spotted the other team too many runs to come back from.”
Even with their unblemished non-league record, the Irish know their true test will be in West Catholic Athletic League play, which begins on Tuesday against Archbishop Riordan. The Irish went 4-3 early last season, before losing their first five WCAL games.
“It’s nice [going undefeated]. I don’t want to discount it, but at the same time, we know that now it goes up another level,” Morgan said. “Riordan is always a battle for us. It’s where we wanted to be. If you would have told us three weeks ago [we’d be undefeated], everyone would have said ‘fantastic,’ so we’re happy about it, but we know the next part of the season starts Tuesday.”