Modesto’s Gregori clinches up first baseball title in school history (with video)

Bee staff reportsMay 1, 2014 

Gregori H.S. pitcher Jeff Gray talks about the Jaguars' 8-1 MMC victory over Downey and the school's first league baseball title on Thursday, May 1, 2014, in Modesto, Calif.


Gregori High pitcher Jeff Gray was asked if he had his best stuff on Thursday against Downey.

“Absolutely not,” said Gray, a junior right-hander. “I just had to go out there and compete.”

Compete he did, scattering five hits and holding the Knights to one run in an 8-1 victory that secured the first baseball title in school history.

“He was grinding out there today,” said Gregori coach Rob Steves. “And his defense was grinding behind him.”

After Roberto Flores put the Jaguars up 1-0 in the first with a sacrifice fly to left field, Gregori added two in the third on a two-out, two-strike hit by sophomore Michael Olivarez, who drive in another run with a sac fly in the fifth.

“When I get two strikes I shorten my stroke and try to stay compact,” said Olivarez. “I widen my stance and just react to the ball. I don’t look for a specific pitch, I just react.”

Downey cut the lead with its only run in the bottom of the third – Jakob Magana (2-for-4) produced a run-scoring single – but the Jags blew it open with three in the fifth.

“We didn’t play very well this week,” said Downey coach Jeremy Plaa, whose team lost 8-1 at Gregori on Tuesday and was officially eliminated from the playoff chase Thursday. “We made a lot of unforced errors today and Gregori capitalized. And we left too many runners on third base.”

After Magana’s run-scoring single, the Knights’ center fielder stole second to put runners on second and third with no outs. Gray struck out the next two batters he faced then forced a groundout to escape.

Later, in the bottom of the sixth and trailing 8-1, Downey had a chance to at least make Gregori sweat a little bit, but reliever Anthony Dugo worked out of a bases-loaded jam.

“It was the same story on Tuesday,” said Plaa. “It’s obviously something we need to work on.”

Gregori, which has a non-league home-and-away series with Escalon on Tuesday and Wednesday, finishes the MMC campaign at 10-2.

Enochs (8-2) wraps up league play next week with two against Davis, tied for last in the MMC. Beyer (7-3) finishes with a series against Donwey (4-6). Both the Eagles and Patriots have clinched playoff spots.

Central Catholic 8, Central Valley 2, at Ceres – The Raiders completed a series sweep of the Hawks to remain undefeated in Western Athletic Conference play. The victory by CC sets up a Monday-Tuesday showdown against Ceres, also unbeaten in WAC competition.

The Raiders (10-0 WAC, 19-4 overall) will travel for Game 1 – a 4 p.m. start at Ceres High – then host the Bulldogs (10-0, 22-3) in a 4 p.m. game on Tuesday.

Matt Clark, Jonathan Weatherred (two RBIs) and Tazz Rodoni (two RBIs) each collected three hits for Central Catholic. Joseph Montalvo and Jorge Alvarez went 2-for-3 for Central Valley.

MJC baseball underdogs in NorCal regional

It’s safe to label the Modesto Junior College Pirates as the underdogs going into today’s game at Big 8 Conference colleague Sierra to begin the Northern California Regional.

Modesto (22-13), seeded 13th after placing seventh in the Big 8, lost three straight to fourth-seeded Sierra (21-15) by a combined 33-5. That’s why the Wolverines, who are tied for third, are the hosts for this best-of-three first-round series. Game 1 is today at 2 p.m., followed by Game 2 Saturday at 11 a.m., and a third game to follow if needed.

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