San Lorenzo Valley High junior Damian Aguilar took command of the mound and he was on full display for the Cougars baseball team in last week’s decisive win over Soquel High.
Aguilar finished with eight strikeouts in a 7-0 shutout win against the Knights in Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League play on April 15.
“I knew from the beginning of the game that getting the shutout would be possible if my team could make the plays behind me,” he said.
Aguilar gave up five hits on 89 pitches in the complete-game victory for SLV, beating out Soquel starting junior pitcher Joshua Fahrner.
“My team did a great job on the field, making a lot of great plays. They also kept encouraging me in the dugout in between innings,” Aguilar said. “They had good at-bats and gave me a cushion to feel comfortable pitching with a lead.”
It was Aguilar’s second career complete-game shutout after getting his first one last year against Watsonville High.
“My coaches kept encouraging me, telling me I was doing a good job and that I was going to keep on pitching,” he said.
SLV coach Shane Sutcliffe was effusive in his praise of Aguilar’s command of the game.
“This is his first complete game of the year, and we wanted to see him finish it,” he said. “He’s our best guy on the mound—he can beat anyone on any given day, and that’s what’s really cool about him. It’s nice to see this junior come back and bring it home like he did.”
SLV pitching coach Robin Guiver’s game recap was all about Aguilar.
“Damian was lights out in this game—he’s been good for us all year,” Guiver said. “He came out and took control of the game early, and really didn’t give the other team a chance to get anything going. He finished strong.”
Guiver said that Aguilar set the tempo by working quickly, throwing strikes and keeping his teammates engaged in the game.
“We didn’t get caught back on our heels because the game was dragging,” Guiver said.
Both coaches referred to the umpire’s feedback at the end of the game.
“You can’t tell with this kid what cards he’s holding,” Sutcliffe said. “He shows no emotion on the mound, and that’s an incredible thing to see in a young kid. He has great composure, and it was really cool to hear an umpire say that.”
And Aguilar’s message for kids who want to get in the game.
“Have fun with the game and know that if you put some effort in, it leads to success,” he said.
Guiver said SLV’s defensive strategy was clean except for one error from a hard hit that snuck past left fielder Wyatt Berridge.
“We’ve been trying to support our pitcher on our defense, and understand how hard they’re working, so the rest of the team can understand that getting outs is crucial to that guy feeling good about himself,” Sutcliffe said.
With the win, the Cougars improved to a 6-12 overall record and 3-6 in league play. SLV had won five of its last seven games entering Tuesday afternoon’s SCCAL game against Aptos High.
“We started off 1-10, and now we’re 6-12,” Guiver said. “We’ve won some games, and we’re headed in the right direction.”
Sutcliffe acknowledged that SLV was struggling at the start of the season.
“We always talk about the progression—we just want to see each and every player improve—and there have been some great moments this year where you see things unfold,” Sutcliffe said. “Every team has it, but this team’s backs are against the wall in this league, and we’re trying to get to a place where we feel good about the season. It’s been cool to watch our progression, and watch the team get a little more solid with each game.”
The Cougars will play at league-leading Aptos on Friday at 4pm.