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Gorman third baseman Gallo finishes strong

Joey Gallo made a statement with one swing of the bat in Bishop Gorman's first Class 4A state baseball tournament game this season.

The senior third baseman got a 2-0 fastball and simply unloaded on it.

He hit it so hard that many in the press box never picked up the ball. He hit it so hard that the center fielder barely flinched before deciding that he'd need a jet pack to have any chance to make a play.

It was Gallo's 21st home run of the season, and his prodigious power is one of the reasons he was named the state player of the year by the Review-Journal.

"I've never seen anything like it, and I played with some pretty good home run hitters in high school," said Gorman coach Nick Day, who was a high school teammate of No. 10 overall pick Chad Hermansen at Green Valley. "The most impressive thing about Joey is how easily he can hit the ball out of the park."

Gallo struggled a bit at the beginning of the season, but you'd never know it by his final numbers. He batted .506 with 66 runs, 80 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in leading the Gaels to their seventh straight state title. The 80 RBIs topped his own state record of 78, and his 65 career home runs are the most in state history according the NIAA record book.

"He was just pressing early in the season with all the scouts and all the hype about being a first rounder and this and that," Day said. "I could tell he was just feeling the pressure a little bit. He was trying to get his first 10 home runs the first two weeks of the season. After struggling there a little bit, he really focused on going back up the middle and cutting down his swing a little bit. And it seemed like he went from two (home runs) to 20 in a blink of an eye."

The 6-foot-5-inch, 220-pound Gallo is an imposing physical specimen, but the third baseman is more than just a masher. He's surprisingly nimble defensively, and has tremendous arm strength.

"His quickness and speed and his range have always been underrated," Day said. "There's been a lot of balls that you think are getting to the shortstop that he cuts across and kind of steals them from him."

One such play came at state against McQueen after the Lancers had cut the Gorman lead to 9-6 and had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth.

But Gallo ranged far to his left to snag a ball and start a 5-4-3 double play to end the threat.

Gallo's season included a four-homer game against Clark and a no-hitter against Gloucester Catholic (N.J.).

Day said he would have loved to use Gallo more on the mound, but the senior preferred to play the field, and Gorman's deep pitching staff afforded Day and the Gaels that luxury.

Gallo did throw 13 2/3 innings, including a two-inning scoreless stint to save a 7-6 victory over Reno at state. He was clocked at 98 mph in that game and struck out five in two innings.

"He was so impressive and so dominant," Day said. "I made the joke to him that I can't believe you can throw the ball 100 mph and you don't want to pitch.

"He wants to make it as a hitter and focus on that, and who am I to tell him not to do that. He's always been willing to pitch in those big games. He got some really big outs for us down the stretch."

Gallo has signed with Louisiana State, but is projected to be a first-round pick in the upcoming major league draft.

Whether he ends up in college or professional ball, Gallo will leave a large void at Gorman, where he was a four-year starter.

"It'll definitely be different writing the lineup without his name in it," Day said.

Contact Prep Sports Editor Damon Seiters at dseiters@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4587.

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