GEORGETOWN – Florence battled from the first inning to the last Friday on the road, but not much went right for the Buffaloes.
Georgetown Gateway starting pitcher Steven Vejil threw a complete-game shutout on just 59 pitches – 40 strikes and 19 balls – and the No. 25-ranked Gators defeated Florence 8-0.
Vejil allowed just two hits and walked two. He had excellent command of the strike zone, but the Buffaloes were aggressive with their bats and rarely allowed him to get to two strikes in the count.
Of the 27 outs Vejil and his Gateway teammates recorded, only three were strikeouts and many balls put in play were hit directly to one of the Gators’ stout defenders. They didn’t commit any errors in the contest.
“We were hitting the ball,” Florence head coach Bryce Estes said. “We’ve been hitting the ball well all season. But tonight, I guess they were magnets.
“We were hitting it right to them. We couldn’t find a gap, and we couldn’t get anything to fall.”
Buffaloes starting pitcher Matthew Edgar had some command trouble, but was able to throw 4 1/3 innings while surrendering six runs – three earned – on four hits and six walks with three strikeouts.
Masa Hashiguchi pitched the final 1 2/3 for Florence (3-12-1, 2-6 District 25-3A) and allowed two unearned runs on two hits and two walks while striking out three.
But Florence’s defense didn’t help out their pitchers. The Buffaloes committed six errors.
“Somehow, when those errors occurred, they were at key points of the game,” Estes said, “and that’s what hurt us. With people on and giving up a couple walks, we weren’t helping them out, so that hurts.”
Gateway (12-2-1, 7-2) scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the first on an infield single by Vejil.
In the home half of the second inning, the Gators scored again on a fielder’s choice groundout to shortstop by Blake Rambusch.
In the fourth, Quentin Reeb hit a sacrifice fly to right to give Gateway a 3-0 cushion.
The game then unraveled a bit for Florence in a four-run fifth for the Gators.
Vejil scored on an error, Chris Varljen crossed home on a wild pitch, Skyler Hill touched the dish on a dropped third strike and Ty Tilson scored on another error to give the Gators a commanding 7-0 advantage.
Hill plated Gateway’s final run of the contest on an RBI single to right.
Vejil then sat the Buffaloes down in order in the top of the seventh, and the Gators enjoyed an eight-run victory.
Despite the result, Estes was proud of his team’s effort.
“We’ve got a great group, year round,” he said. “The kids fight hard throughout the whole game and don’t let up. They don’t put their heads down, they try to battle.
“You just want to see something good happen for them, and it’s just not happening yet.”
Florence is scheduled to return to the field Tuesday with a home game against Comfort at 7 p.m.