Burlingame right-hander Grant Goodman was virtually unhittable in his first start of the season Saturday night, as the Panthers edged El Camino 2-1 at Washington Park.
This begs the question: What's going to happen when Goodman really finds his groove? He allowed one run on two hits while striking out seven in six inning of work, though he was in the stretch most the night as the senior issued five walks.
"This wasn't my best performance, obviously," Goodman said. "I usually pound the zone a little bit more. I was flying open a little too much. But in the fourth or fifth inning I felt like I got in my groove and felt like I did ... last year. So that was a good sign."
Last year was a special year for Goodman, who led Burlingame to a 20-win season by posting a 7-0 record while garnering PAL Pitcher of the Year honors. In November, he committed to USF on a baseball scholarship, then decided to celebrate by going out for Burlingame's varsity basketball squad - which went on to win a Central Coast Section Division III crown.
Goodman squandered no time between basketball and baseball season, though. On March 6 he was on the court as Burlingame was eliminated from the NorCal playoffs in a 58-50 loss to Campolindo. On March 7 he was on the Burlingame diamond for baseball practice. And on March 8 he made his season debut but working 2 2/3 innings of relief in Burlingame's 4-2 loss to Serra.
Now the senior is daring to dream big. When Burlingame baseball won its last CCS championship in 2010, Goodman was a freshman at Serra. Alas, that season stands as the benchmark for Goodman's senior-season goal.
"I hope that I'm the guy that just comes in here, glues everybody together and makes everybody have some fun, because that's the kind of person I am," Goodman said. "Go out there ... and hopefully get a CCS championship again this year."
The first order of business according to Burlingame manager Shawn Scott, however, is to iron out the kinks in Goodman's delivery that led to issuing five walks to El Camino.
"No, that's not a regular Grant Goodman start," Scott said. "A regular Grant Goodman start would not be four or five walks. He normally throws strikes and makes guys swing the bats. He was a little erratic tonight with his front side so there are things ... him and I are going to clean up this week with his bullpen. This is his first start, so we'll get him in the rhythm of pitching ... and he'll be alright."
El Camino (2-7) looked poised to get to Goodman early when Colts catcher Evan Giacomino, on just the fourth pitch of the game, scorched a double up the left-center gap. However, Giacomino's double was the only El Camino hit to leave the infield all night against Goodman. The only other Colts hit was an infield single in the fourth inning by Nick Moisant.
"[Goodman] changed it up," Giacomino said. "He worked backwards a lot and it kept us off balance. He did a really good job at that."
Burlingame (7-1) got on the board in the bottom of the first by scratching out an unearned run against El Camino starter Josh Eclavea. With two outs, Goodman reached on an infield throwing error, then stole second and later scored on an RBI single by Andrew Brunicardi.
In the third, El Camino manufactured a run to tie it. Giacomino walked. He advanced to second on a passed ball, advanced to third on a wild pitch, then scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of cleanup hitter Dominic Giuliani.
In the fourth, Burlingame took the lead for good. Jian Lee led off the inning with the loudest swing of the night when the lefty drove a triple up the right-center gap. Lee later scored on an RBI fielder's choice off the bat of Michael Franco.
El Camino had a chance to overtake Burlingame in the sixth, as the Colts had runners at second and third with one out. However, Goodman buckled down, notching a strikeout and a groundout to escape with the lead. El Camino stranded seven runners in the game.
In the seventh, Burlingame closer Vince Arobio earned his fourth save of the season by notching three strikeouts to end it.
"Lights out. That's what a closer does," Scott said. "He's very young on the mound. He's really feeling it and learning how to pitch. He used to be a thrower and now he's learning how to pitch."
El Camino has now lost three one-run ballgames this season. However, Colts manager Vic Messer was optimistic about his team's tenacity in playing close games, even though the results have not favored them thus far.
"That's the part of one-run games," Messer said. "It's not so much what we do better, or what they do better. Sometimes it's a bounce. Sometimes it's an umpire call. Sometimes it's a better swing. Sometimes they just beat us.... It becomes demoralizing. But what we need to do as a team is continue to work hard so hopefully the ball starts bouncing our way in a one-run game, then we'll be on the flipside."
Scott was a tad more cynical of Burlingame's second one-run win of the year, though he said he expects a lot more close games to come over the course of the 2013 season.
"Unfortunately it's what we do," Scott said. "We're battle tested early, which is good. Being battle tested early against some of the teams we've played against can help out later on in league, knowing that we can win a one-run ballgame and we're OK with our pitching staff -- our relievers -- to hold us in a one-run ballgame."