FAIRBANKS—Chris Gavora admitted his skepticism up front, saying he wasn’t sure what to expect from his Monroe Catholic baseball team in its first-ever varsity games Friday afternoon.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” Gavora, a senior, said following the team’s first of two games at Growden Memorial Park. “I was really skeptical, honestly.”
Even if Gavora hadn’t been skeptical and had been incredibly confident in his team, it’s safe to say he wouldn’t have expected the result of Friday’s games.
Behind Gavora’s three innings on the mound in Game 1, the Rams defeated the visiting Cordova Wolverines 20-1.
“It’s not what I expected at all, but it was fun,” Gavora said after pitching the first three innings of the game that went to just the middle of the fifth. “I’m really happy we all came to play today.”
Gavora didn’t just have a solid performance on defense — he struck out six batters, walked one, gave up one hit and no runs — he also held his own at the plate, going 4 for 4, including three singles and a double. He finished with three RBI and a run.
“Chris hit the ball well for us,” Monroe head coach Dan Clark said following the game.
The Rams had 21 hits against Cordova’s pitcher Will Roemhildt, who managed to strike out just four Monroe players and walk one other.
Scooter Bynum had the first over-the-fence home run of Monroe Catholic baseball history in his first at bat. He finished the afternoon 4 for 4, as well, with his homer, a double and two singles, and had four RBI and scored four runs.
“Scooter’s obviously an outstanding hitter,” Clark said. “I thought, as a team, we came out better than I had expected. Defensively, we didn’t get a whole lot of chances, but we picked up the ball late in the game, so that’s good.”
Gavora’s only allowed hit of the game came against the first batter he faced, Billy Perry, who singled to center field and eventually stole second base. Cordova’s other three hits of the game came in the fourth inning, when Kyle Coiley replaced Gavora on the mound.
Brian Reggiani singled to center, stole second and was eventually brought home by Keegan Crowley’s single. After Crowley’s at bat, Adam Zamudio got the team’s final hit, a single to right field, before Crowley was tagged out in a pickoff at home to end the inning.
“Coiley came in and pitched well,” Clark said. “He threw a lot of strikes, and that’s what we want.”
Coiley pitched two innings for the Rams, where he gave up three hits and one run and walked no batters while striking out one. On the offensive side, he went 2 for 3, scored three runs and had two RBI.
Rams teammate Tyler Wells finished the game 4 for 5 with two doubles and two singles. Wells also registered two RBI and scored four runs.
In the fourth and final offensive inning for Monroe, the Rams’ starters got a break.
“I thought the guys off the bench did well,” Clark said. “They were aggressive at the plate, had some line drives. Some of them came in late from other sports, so to see them do so well is a good sign.”
The players to come in the fourth, collectively, went 2 for 5 with two singles and one run scored.
“Overall, we hit the ball better than I thought we would, so that’s good,” Clark said. “There’s a lot of promise.”
Wells started on the mound in Game 2, an eventual 18-2 Monroe win.
“I think the biggest standout in that game was Tyler Wells,” Clark said. “He threw well and got us in there right away.”
Wells pitched three innings, and Bynum pitched the final two.
Carrying his momentum over from the first game, Gavora led the team with three hits.
“He just played well all day,” Clark said.
Cordova plays Eielson and North Pole today at Newby Park at noon and 2:30, respectively. Monroe plays at Delta Junction in a nonconference game Monday evening at 4:30.
Contact staff writer Renee Thony at 459-7583.