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Gorman downs Basic in nationally ranked baseball showdown — PHOTOS

Bishop Gorman’s baseball team relied on strong starting pitching last year to help put together a dominant season and win the Class 5A state title.

Junior right-hander James Whitaker gave the Gaels a strong outing on the opening night of the 2024 season.

Whitaker allowed one run in five innings to help Gorman, ranked No. 8 nationally by MaxPreps, defeat No. 14 Basic 6-3 on Thursday night at Gorman in a battle of the last two 5A state champions on the first day of high school spring sports competition.

“We’ve been working since last fall,” Whitaker said. “We come out here and try to play with confidence and just do our thing.”

Whitaker, a Louisiana State commit, struck out six and scattered three hits and three walks on 93 pitches for Gorman (1-0).

“He grinded it out, that’s the way James is,” Gorman coach Chris Sheff said. “It’s a battle and he’ll probably tell you he didn’t have his best stuff, but he gave us five solid innings and allowed us to get two innings out of our bullpen. He’s a winner, and he went down as a winner today.”

Basic (0-1) had a chance to strike early, getting a pair of walks in the first inning. But Whitaker struck out Tate Southisene and Derek Bain to end the inning and strand two runners in scoring position.

“They’re young, so sometimes they get a little excited,” Sheff said. “I just went to the mound (in the first) and said, ‘We can’t be missing pitches, and just breathe and compete like you know how to compete.’ And that’s what he did.”

Gorman gave Whitaker early run support. Burke Mabeus doubled to knock in Colton Boardman, and Mabeus and Whitaker scored on an error to give the Gaels a 3-0 lead after the first inning.

The Gaels added three more in the second. Tanner Teffs led off with a double and scored on a wild throw on a pickoff attempt.

Boardman tripled to score Drake Kajioka, and later scored on a throwing error to put Gorman ahead 6-0.

Basic committed four errors in the first two innings.

Basic’s best chance to strike came in the fifth after loading the bases. Connor Long drove in Andruw Giles on a single, but Whitaker struck out Ty and Tate Southisene to end the inning and leave two more runners stranded.

“I had some nerves. There’s always going to be some nerves,” Whitaker said. “But the biggest thing is just keeping your composure, and I did that.”

Giles went 2-for-3 and drove in a run on a sacrifice fly in the sixth for Basic, which added another run in the inning off a wild pitch.

Boardman went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored for Gorman, which defeated Basic 1-0 in nine innings in the regular season in the teams’ lone meeting last year.

“We came out with some pretty good energy and got a couple of three-spots in the first two innings,” Sheff said. “We got a little stagnant offensively after that and then kind of had to hold on, but opening day is kind of that way sometimes and you have to battle it out. We played well enough to win.”

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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