FULLERTON, Calif.—Anticipation was building all day at the National Classic, as everyone was ready for Gerrit Cole's start against Yucaipa (Calif.) HS, set for Tuesday night at Cal State Fullerton.
As the St. John's vs. Vista Murrieta contest was winding down at Goodwin Field, several fans, area scouts, crosscheckers and scouting directors started filing into the stadium. It was obvious something special was going to happen.
The atmosphere was electric when the teams took the field. Lutheran (Orange, Calif.) got one run in the first, but the Yucaipa bench and fans weren't ready to be rattled. They were more focused on trying to get into Cole's head. The noise level in the stadium peaked along with the raising of several radar guns as Cole threw his first pitch. He hurled fastball after fastball, sitting comfortably at 93-94 mph and peaking at 95-96. He complimented his heat with a nasty 80-81 changeup that made several Yucaipa hitters look silly. Cole was in the zone from the very start.
"I was pretty amped," Cole said afterward. "This was the most amped up I've been, pitching here, with this crowd."
Cole didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning, when a jam shot snuck up the middle. The way he was throwing, the Lancers only needed one run to win, but they went ahead and scored 16 in the shutout while Cole struck out 13 in six innings. The Lancers took advantage of every mistake whether it was a fielding error or bad pitch. The biggest moment came in the top of the fourth with one runner on. Cole was at the plate and stayed on a changeup away. He hit it about 410 feet over the center-field wall for a home run, his fourth of the season. The Yucaipa faithful were plenty quiet by that time.
Earlier in the day, Jupiter (Fla.) avenged its loss to Crespi (Calif.) with a 16-4 victory over James River (Midlothian, Va.).
Along with No. 1 Calvert Hall (Baltimore), James River is now 0-2 in the tournament. Both have faced tough teams but still seem rusty. In fairness, most of the schools in the tournament are in midseason form, while Calvert Hall and James River haven't even played five games yet.
Christian Brothers (Memphis) flashed its strength today, beating Cottonwood (Salt Lake City) 19-10 with many timely hits. They pounded the gaps, not displaying overwhelming power but getting the job done.
St. John's (Washington, D.C.) picked up its second win, 9-4 over Vista Murrieta, who continues to struggle.
Baseball America scout Dave Perkin took a look at Crespi (Calif.) outfielder Sean Gilmartin. Here is what he had to say about him:
Gilmartin resembles a young Shawn Green, who played at nearby Tustin (Calif.) High in the early 90s. Gilmartin has a prototype tall and projectable frame, and profiles average to above-average tools in hitting, throwing, power and fielding. In past showcase events, he's been clocked at 7.2 seconds in the 60-yard dash, but he appears to be running better these days, so his speed may just nudge into the average range.
His stance is a bit funky, with an open setup, and an unusual inward knock-kneed leg position. Gilmartin makes it work, however. He has excellent bat speed and a smooth, fluid swing, which delivers line-drive power to all fields. Gilmartin ripped an opposite field homer against Esperanza (Calif.). Defensively, he fits on the mound, at first base, in left or right field, but he works best in right.
One more to keep an eye on is junior Gary Apelian, a 3B/RHP for Esperanza. He has a tall and projectable frame. He is a righthanded hitter with a wonderful swing. He is short to the ball, whippy through the zone with interesting bat and exit speed.