Casa strengthens grip on NBL lead

The Gauchos' Dominic Garihan pitched a shutout against Montgomery  at Casa Grande on Wednesday. Credit: Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat

The Gauchos’ Dominic Garihan pitched a shutout against Montgomery at Casa Grande on Wednesday.
Credit: Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

PETALUMA — Casa Grande has made a habit of winning one-run games this season, and Wednesday’s victim was Montgomery.

When the final out was recorded and the Gauchos had the 1-0 victory, it marked the 11th time they’ve won a game by a single run.

Even more remarkable, it was their seventh straight one-run victory.

In Wednesday’s battle between the top two teams in the North Bay League, Casa Grande got its run in the third when Francis Christy walked, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Anthony Bender’s double. Pitcher Dominic Garihan, with relief help from Eric Parnow, made the run stand up.

“We’re getting the most out of the least amount of hitting,” Casa coach Paul Maytorena said. “We’re doing it with pitching and defense.”

The Gauchos’ defense made several good plays against Montgomery batters, including one by center fielder Charlie Parnow in the fourth.With Josh Lenney on first, Sam McBeth hit a sinking liner that Parnow caught inches off the grass.

The senior quickly got to his feet and fired a strike to first base to get Lenney going back to the bag.

Garihan, pitching his best game of the season, allowed four hits before leaving in the seventh.

“I felt like all my pitches were working,” the right-hander said. “I was able to throw my curve, two-seam fastball and change-up for strikes.

“When we scored in the third, it gave me an energy boost. I just concentrated on putting the ball over the plate and letting my defense make plays.”

Bender’s RBI double over the head of center fielder McBeth came on a fastball off losing pitcher Anthony Prince.

“It was on the outside part of the plate and I hit it solid,” Bender said.

After popping out to the first baseman in the first, the senior changed his batting stance.

“I was in a crouch the first time up and when I do that, I tend to top the ball,” he said. “When I hit that double in my next at bat, I was standing tall and swung level.”

Bender followed his double with a single in the fifth. Clean-up hitter Nate Bills also went 2 for 3.

Casa has now won 16 in a row after dropping its season opener to Wood (Vacaville).

The Gauchos are 7-0 in NBL. Montgomery drops to 5-2 in league and 10-4-2 overall.

NOTES
Scouts from four major league teams were in the stands watching Christy, the Casa Grande catcher. He made four big plays in the field and walked twice in three at bats.
He threw out a Montgomery runner trying to steal second in the first inning and picked a runner off first base in the third. Then in the sixth, he jumped on a batted ball in front of the plate and easily threw out a runner at first. Finally in the seventh, he nailed a runner who had strayed too far off second base.
Maytorena said the scouts were from the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks. The Major League draft runs June 6-8.

To show support for the city of Boston following Monday’s bombing, the song “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond was played over the loudspeaker before the start of the fifth inning.

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