Since Gregori High School began playing varsity baseball in 2012, no Jaguar had ever hit a home run.
Sure, there have been a few during summer ball, but never during the Modesto Metro Conference season or Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
That all changed over the last two days, as catcher Andrew Urrutia hit bombs in each of Gregori’s victories over Modesto. His two-run jack in the second inning Wednesday at Streeter Field gave the Jags a seven-run lead en route to an 8-0 victory. A rain-soaked Gregori field led to Monday’s game being postponed 24 hours.
“I got a fastball outside,” said Urrutia, a three-year varsity starter. “Two-strike approach, I was just looking for anything to hit, really, because the umpire had a big zone.”
Of course, no lead is insurmountable, but it sure seemed like it the way junior right-hander A.J. MacCaughtry was throwing.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder got ahead of 18 of the 24 hitters he faced, allowing a harmless one-out single in the second, while walking one and striking out eight.
“I needed my soul mate, Andrew, back there to guide me through the game,” said MacCaughtry. “Ever since he’s been calling pitches everything’s been working, and I just feel more comfortable back there when he’s calling pitches.”
Gregori coach Jim Davis trusts Urrutia to call his own game, and the battery got ahead with first-pitch fastballs, then went to the breaking stuff with two strikes.
“This year he’s been allowed to call his own game and has done a marvelous job,” said Davis, whose team is now tied with Modesto for third place in the MMC at 5-3, though with two victories over the Panthers, the Jaguars hold the tiebreaker over Modesto. “We’ve spent a lot of time talking about how to set up hitters and how to pitch to certain hitters. … He’s one of the best defensive catchers I’ve had the honor to coach.”
Urrutia has been on fire since the Jags were swept in a three-game series against MMC leader Beyer. He was 0 for 7 in three games against the Patriots, but is hitting .500 (8 for 14) with two homers, six RBIs and 11 runs since.
“Our practice intensity,” said Urrutia, who owns a .342 career batting average. “Just really bearing down at practice, trying to get better every day … that’s probably our team motto.”
Modesto, meanwhile, has dropped three consecutive league games after a 5-0 start.
“Gregori’s done really well and turned the page since they’ve played Beyer,” said Panthers coach Daryl Galloway. “We started off really hot; now we’re getting a little humbled … so I’m hoping my kids can do the same thing and take this as a lesson because we’re a lot better than what we’ve showed.”