East County Sports

Culp, Gonzales avoid Stars history

By Nick Pellegrino
Special to East County Sports.com

SANTEE (6-7-2017) —- Ryan Culp and Hank Gonzales combined to avoid history Tuesday (June 6), propelling the San Diego Stars to a 4-3 walk-off victory over the San Diego Mavericks.

A highly-motivated Gonzales ignited a 9th-inning rally with a booming double. Two batters later, Culp also doubled to score a pair of runs for the game-winning hit — and to avoid an embarrassing footnote in the Stars’ record book.
Never in the 37-year history of the Stars, no matter which league they played (Golden State, Horizon or the current Western Baseball Association, among others), the ballclub has never opened the league schedule for three straight losses.
Such was avoided in driving the Stars (3-2 overall) to their third overall win.
“It’s always special when you win as a team,” said Gonzales. “It’s always a blessing to be the guy to start something or finish it off.”
Gonzales was fooled by the first two offerings from the Mavs pitcher, then jumped all over the next pitch for a drive to the right-center field fence. Hunter Markle followed with a bunt single, setting the stage for Culp.
Culp sent a liner near the exact spot of Gonzales’ hit, splitting the gap and allowing pinch-runner Shawn Knutson and Markle to circle the bases.
With the Major League Baseball draft just days away, Gonzales felt he needed to impress even more than he did earlier in the day.
“I had a tryout for the San Diego Padres at Petco Park,” said Gonzales, who played for Point Loma Nazarene University out of St. Augustine High. “I caught a couple of bullpens today, getting myself some exposure. Tomorrow (Wednesday), I’ll be doing the real thing with my hitting, and hopefully, they’ll see the best in me to get a chance at the draft.”
“Mickey said Culp and me tried to pull everything. I did that on the first two pitches, then relaxed and stayed back and let it ride to right field.”
The Stars claimed early leads of 1-0 and 2-1, with both runs centered around Joey Krug.
In the 2nd inning, Jeremiah Barr blasted a lead double, taking third base on a passed ball. Krug followed with a grounder behind the runner for an easy run.
Two innings later, Krug registered his own lead double, coming home when Markle followed with a base hit to center for an RBI, although he was gunned down when trying to take an extra base at second.
However, the Mavericks, which moved to Olympian High in Chula Vista followed decades at Alliant International University (which removed the field), took their only lead in the 7th.
Mavs second baseman Ryan Paniagua, who was 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts and safe on an error, beat the throw to first base for a scratch single and an RBI. But when the throw caromed down the right-field line, the go-ahead run also scored for a 3-2 lead.
The Stars return to action with a pair of weekend doubleheaders, both at Barona. On Saturday, the club plays the San Diego Reign n in non-league play, then return to WBA action Sunday against the West Coast Clippers. Both events start at noon.

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