By Jeremy Balan
International senior Clay Bloszies will probably need to use all four of his pitches this season if he’d like to win his second consecutive Bay Counties League Central MVP award, but on Friday he only needed one.
After struggling with command of his off-speed pitches early in a non-league contest against Marin Academy at the University of San Francisco, Bloszies almost entirely used his fastball in a complete-game shutout and 4-0 International victory.
“The curveball didn’t break at all,” Bloszies said. “Every time I threw it in warmups it went halfway up the backstop. It was just important to hit my spots, getting it low and hitting the strike zone.”
Bloszies allowed four hits and struck out nine, while stranding at least one baserunner in each inning.
“When his curveball is on, he’s just devastating, but he didn’t have it today for some reason,” said International head coach Anthony Thomas. “He didn’t have his best stuff and got a shutout. That’s how good he is and how good he can be.”
While Thomas was pleased with Bloszies’ production, Marin Academy head coach Justin Hawkins was visibly frustrated with the Wildcats inability to get on the scoreboard.
“I’m disappointed in the offensive output,” Hawkins said. “I’ll give him a lot of credit, because it’s hard to throw one pitch and dominate for seven innings. All he had was a straight fastball and he said, ‘Here it is,’ and we didn’t hit it.”
Bloszies also got the the International offense started with a two-RBI single in the first inning. But that was all the Jaguars needed, even though they added a run in the third, when leadoff hitter Griffin Wurzelbacher scored on a throwing error, and senior shortstop Brian Benavides capped the runs by scoring on a wild pitch after he hit a lined double off the left field wall in the fifth inning.
Thomas knows that co-captains Benavides and Bloszies, two of just three seniors on the team, will be the keys to Jaguars’ success this season.
“Both of them were first-team all-league last year and Clay was MVP,” Thomas said. “They’re hungry and playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulder.”
That chip on their shoulder is the bitter taste that remains from last season’s upset loss to Gateway in the BCL Central championship game, after an undefeated league season where they outscored opponents 106-9.
“We were the best team in the league all last year, I mean, dominated it,” Thomas said. “But all it takes is one game. We’re looking forward to getting to league play, but right now we just want to get better every day.”
I — Bloszies singles, Devin Conroy and Brian Benavides score
I — Conroy sacrifice bunt, Griffin Wurzelbacher scores on throwing error
I – Benavides scores on a wild pitch