By John Honell
The 2-0 Nogales victory over visiting Temple City on Tuesday afternoon was more than just another early season high school baseball game.
It was win No. 600 in the storied 35-year career of Nobles coach John Romano.
“If nothing else gets written today I just want to thank everybody that has played for me,” Romano said. “If I hadn’t had baseball in my life, I don’t know what I would have done. I was able to make a nice career because all the kids were so unselfish when they played here.”
The Rams (3-2) went with ace Gabe Juarez, who pitched a four-hitter and gave up two runs in the fourth inning.
“He’s (Juarez) my number one guy,” Rams coach Barry Bacon said. “If he’s (Romano) going to win 600, I’m going to put my best guy on the mound and he’s going to have to beat him.” (To continue reading, click thread)
Senior Eric Gonzales gave up five hits and struck out nine for the Nobles (5-0) as they kept their record perfect to begin the season.
“He told me last year that I was going to be the one that got him his 600th win,” Gonzales said. “But he has taught us there is more than just winning. Baseball is being part of a family, when you’re on the field there is nothing else to worry about. You have to play hard, be mentally
tough no matter the situation and never, never give up.”
The Nobles played Romano baseball, “doing all the little things,” when they scored their two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Cole Martinez led off with a single. Chris Lopez singled to right to put runners on first and third with no outs.
First baseman Anthony Giordado fought off three inside pitches and got an opposite-field sacrifice fly for the Nobles’ first run.
Gonzales doubled with two outs, driving in pinch-runner Jesse Beltran from first for the second run.
In a show of respect, Bacon led his entire team across the field to congratulate Romano after the game.
“John runs a good program,” Bacon said. “Their pitcher was outstanding. I told my kids that they had a D1 guy on the mound and that he was throwing all three pitches for strikes. Defensively, after committing eight errors in four games, we were nails today.”
The Rams had the tying runs on base in the top of the seventh inning when Gonzales got the final out on a grounder back to the mound.
“He (Gonzales) kept us off-balance, but our approach was great,” Bacon said. “All our hits were with nobody in scoring position and we’ve got to fix that.”
Romano’s Whittier College teammate, Tony Gonzalez, was in attendance. Gonzalez, the former California High baseball coach who won a CIF-SS title in 2000, played with Romano on the Poets’ baseball team in 1975 and 1976.
“I thought he’d be very successful if he went into coaching,” Gonzalez said of Romano. “He was a student of the game, a tough competitor and a hard worker, but he’s not only a good coach and a good teacher, he’s just a good person. We’ve kept in touch and I used to call him for advice about stuff on the field. I’m just here to support him and congratulate him on this win.”
Former player Gaspar Ruiz (1983-85) was also at the game and credits Romano for his success in life.
“He instilled a lot of good things into his ballplayers,” Ruiz said. “He taught us responsibility and to never quit. I was the first one in my family to graduate, and his program was always all about family.”