By Abby Ramirez
The Granada Hills Charter (GHC) varsity baseball team has played phenomenally, with an overall record of 16-2, and a 6-0 record in the West Valley League. After their win over Birmingham High School last Thursday, the team extended their winning streak to 12 games in a row. Currently, they rank 17th in the state of California.
After trailing Birmingham 5-0 into the top of the fourth inning last Thursday, the team rallied, scoring eight runs in two innings to take the lead. With 12 hits and three errors, varsity baseball won 8-6, placing them two wins ahead of Birmingham in the West Valley League.
“Everyone had amazing energy and we had the momentum on our side,” senior Jack Coscolluela said. “It felt amazing, especially after sweeping a good team like Birmingham.”
As a result of last week’s two game sweep, GHC varsity baseball gained a two win lead over the formerly undefeated Birmingham in League, making them the top seed. They are also ranked first in the Los Angeles City Section, and ninth in California.
Notably, the varsity baseball pitching staff has performed outstandingly this year, with a combined ERA of 2.42.
“Pitcher Drew Gustafson leads a very deep pitching staff,” varsity Coach Matt Matuszak said. “Drew is the best pitcher in our league and is fun to watch.”
Offensively, juniors Will White and Brandon Garfinkel lead the varsity team. Garfinkel leads the team in hitting, with a batting average of 0.667 and an OPS of 1.252. White is a well rounded player who stands out both on the field and in the batter’s box, with an OPS of 1.231, 20 RBI and no errors recorded defensively.
Although White, Garfinkel and Gustafson stand out this season, a large part of the team’s success can be attributed to the team chemistry.
“Our chemistry is like none other,” senior Aaron Chazin said. “We’re always cheering each other on, cracking jokes, and even pulling pranks. We carry that environment into our games, and that allows us to relax and focus. We’re just happy to be on the field, playing the game we love.”
After having their 2020 season cancelled due to Covid, many athletes have gained a deeper appreciation for the sports they play as they hoped for the chance to take the field again leading into this spring. To keep their skills sharp over quarantine, the team met online multiple times a week via Google Meet and stayed on a throwing and conditioning schedule.
For returning seniors who not only missed out on their junior season, but also their entire senior year and activities, the news of being able to return for their last season at Granada was an especially happy moment.
“When I heard that we were going to have a baseball season, I was so excited,” Coscolluela said. “It made my senior year even more special because I knew that I was going to be able to play with my teammates for one final season.”
In order to ensure the safety of the players, GHC has all athletes tested once a week for Covid. In addition, the team also practices social distancing and wears masks while they play. To the chagrin of many families and friends, the main difference between this season and last is the absence of fans in the stands. Additional attendees have been limited to the officials and coaching staffs from both schools.
However, the lack of noise and support from outside the dugout has not stopped the varsity baseball team from having fun.
“It’s been sad not having fans, but we’ve created the energy ourselves,” Garfinkel said. “We have also torn down a bunch of banners in right field allowing fans to peep in and watch.”
Beyond having fun and making the most of this season, the varsity team is determined to not only finish first in the West Valley League, but also win the city championship, something GHC has not accomplished since 1984. Considering their collective dedication and love for the game, amazing chemistry and raw talent, the team looks optimistically toward playoffs and their potential for rings.
“This is a really solid team, and I’m having so much fun,” Chazin said. “I’m confident going into the playoffs this year. It’s been nearly four decades since Granada has won a city championship. We really want to win it this year.”