Tehachapi High freshman Sagun Gainey found the perfect remedy for his pregame nerves. And the cure proved to be lethal for the Garces squad he was facing.
Just three pitches into Thursday's Southeast Yosemite League game, Gainey, the Warriors' leadoff hitter and starting pitcher. smacked a double to ignite a 10-run scoring spree in the first inning.
That early offensive outburst and a stellar effort on the mound by Gainey carried Tehachapi to an easy 13-4 win over Garces at David A. Fanucchi Field.
Gainey finished 2-for-4 at the plate with three runs scored and an RBI. He was arguably even better on the mound, earning the win by allowing four runs on six hits and two walks, while registering seven strikeouts.
"At the start of the game I was nervous," Gainey said "But after that first inning, after we scored 10, I knew we had the game after that."
The Rams entered the game, the regular-season finale for both teams, undefeated in league, riding a 10-game winning streak and having already clinched the SEYL title.
Garces (21-7, 9-1 SEYL) defeated second-place Tehachapi (17-9, 8-2 SEYL) by one run the first time the two teams met. Ultimately, the one-game difference atop the final SEYL standings was because of the Warriors' 13-9 loss to Highland one week after falling to the Rams. But all of that didn't matter Thursday to a Warriors team wanting to exact some revenge on its longtime rival.
"We preached for a long time that the first inning can set the tone and it did," Tehachapi coach Chris Olofson said. "We had a plan and those guys carried it out tonight. It's a great feeling. We should have had a piece of the league championship. We stumbled once. But we still feel like we're the better team."
Tehachapi sent 15 batters to the plate during its first turn at bat. Garces starter Matt Strosnider surrendered 10 runs on nine hits and a walk before being lifted with just one out recorded in the first inning.
Eight of the nine players in the Warriors starting lineup tallied at least one hit. Tehachapi had 13 hits total, including five doubles and a Nick Urso home run. Tyler Huebner and Blake Waters paced the Warriors with three hits and three RBIs each. Each had a single and a double during the opening frame.
"We knew what we were going to see from them and I think we were just the hungrier team," Olofson said. "We feel like we had something to prove, that last time we let one guy beat us and we weren't going to let it happen today."
Tehachapi began the game with six straight hits. A Waters single plated the game's first run. Two batters later, Reid Feely drilled a grounder over the third-base bag for a 3-0 lead. Darin Domingo then hit an RBI double to deep left field and the rout was on.
Despite having a huge advantage, Gainey (6-0) remained sharp on the hill throughout the game.
"It wasn't a problem at all for me," Gainey said. "I love big leads."
After falling behind 10-0, Garces never got closer than eight runs. That happened in the second inning when the Rams parlayed a Collin Jamieson triple into a pair of runs.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game," Garces coach Guy Dees said. "Tehachapi is always up for us when we play them ... They just came out swinging well and played their rear ends off and took it to us."
Garces had seven hits. Jake Sweaney went 2-for-3 with a walk and run scored. His seventh-inning double was one of four extra base hits by Garces.