By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Sierra Vista High School’s Giovanni Rivera said he wants to be more of a force for the Dons’ baseball team. His two-out grand slam in the third inning will go along way to doing just that, leading Sierra Vista to a 6-2 victory over host Gladstone on Tuesday to remain in first in the Montview League.
Gladstone scored its only runs in the second inning, but Gladiators starter Richie Prieto left a fastball up and Rivera took care of it, belting his first homer of the season to stake the Gladiators to a 4-2 lead.
Sierra Vista improved to 16-3 and 8-1 with Gladstone falling to 9-5 and 5-2.
“Last year I was not a big part of this team,” said Rivera, also the star running back on the football team. “I know I’m a big part now. I have to continue to come through.”
Junior MacRin Gallardo flexed his muscles too, giving the Dons insurance by belting a two-run homer in the sixth inning — his first of the year.
“With Giovanni, he’s been swinging the bat well the last couple weeks, it was nice to see him sit back and make a nice swing,” Sierra Vista coach Brett Stevens said. “Both guys took good swings. Their pitchers made two mistakes and we were fortunate to take advantage of both. That was the difference in the ballgame.”
That and the steady job of Dons senior pitcher Elias Novelo, who improved to 8-0 and entered with a 1.46 ERA.
Novelo didn’t have his best stuff, but he pitched a complete game.
He gave up eight hits, a double to Gladstone’s Joe Herrera and hit three batters, but continually battled out of tough spots.
Novelo worked out of bases loaded jam in the first with a strikeout to end the inning, and with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth, he got an inning-ending double play.
“When we needed him to make the big pitch, he made the big pitch,” Stevens said of Novelo, who also had two hits and a walk. “He didn’t have much command. He hit a few batters and gave up more hits than he normally does.
“But when the chips were down he came through. He’s our senior star, he’s been doing that for four years so we expect him to lead us in those situations.”
Gladstone took a 1-0 lead in the second after Kevin Amezquita scored on Joe Caballero’s bunt. Frank Solchaga later scored on a ground out to make it 2-0.
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