East County Sports

Christian’s McCurty fires 1-hitter in I.V.



By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

BRAWLEY — Months ago, Christian High baseball coach Mike Mike Mitchell noticed a black hole in the Patriots schedule.

During a 3-week stretch of the Western League slate, the Patriots would play 3-game sets against what believed to be the two weakest ballclubs in the league, sandwiched around a bye week.

In other words, Christian thought they would go almost a month without meeting a competitive opponent, definitely not the way to prepare for the CIF playoffs.

So Mitchell went to work on the telephone.

“I intentionally scheduled a solid team after the Cathedral game because we knew this could be a trap game,” Mitchell explained . “I wanted to face adversity coming off a big win.”

Micthell’s straegy not only was effective, his Patriots flourished during the stretch of non-league games to fill the league void. Following victories against Castaic and Cathedral Catholic, the Patriots drove to the Imperial Valley for a Saturday (Apr. 23) late-morning contest, returning with a solid 5-1 verdict over host Brawley.

After leading on an unearned run in the first inning on a walk, then a double-error play, Christian pitcher Andrew McCurty dominated. He struck out nine Wildcats batters to subdue the hosts on a 1-hitter.

With the triumph, the Patriots (14-4 overall) matched last season’s start — the second-best in school history. The mark rests behind only the 2014-15 Patriots which opened 11-2, then capped the season with 18 unanswered victories in an amazing 29-2 campaign and a CIFSDS championship.

“We have potential to be very, very good, but we still make a lot of mistakes.,” Mitchell added. “But we are progressing. I truly believe we have enough talent to play in the open division next year.”

McCurty got into occasional trouble with five walks. Otherwise, Brawley found few chances to get around on his fastball.

“My goal was to go with my fastball and curve for as long as it worked,” McCurty noted. “Then later in the game, I started mixing in my cutter and slider.”

Once McCurty found his location with his four pitches, he was unhittable.

Meanwhile, Patriots shortstop Vaughn Major paced the offense by batting 2-for-3, with a triple, double and a walk, finishing with two RBI.

“I think we are almost to where we need to be,” said Major. “We have the athleticism to win big games, but we need a little more energy to be as good as we could be.”

“Shane (Bailey) and Ashton have been great on the mound and our offense is starting to come to life.”

Christian took the lead at 2-1 in the third, then doubles their output with two additional markets in the fifth.

Major recorded what turned out to be the game-winning RBI with a 2-run double, scoring both third baseman Caden Leonard and left fielder Chris Mellos. Both singled.

Also driving in runs was catcher Hunter Kaul (2-for–2, walk). Brawley fell to 12-8, suffering just its second home-field loss in seven starts this season.


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