There’s a reason Rancho baseball coach Manny Llamas has Jimmy Gamboa hitting cleanup.
And the senior showed why on Monday.
Gamboa’s three-run double with two outs in the bottom of the third got the Rams started, and they rolled to an 11-1, six-inning home win over Liberty.
“We can always depend on Jimmy,” Llamas said. “He puts the ball in play a lot, so that’s why we keep him in the four spot. Whenever his number’s called, he gets it done.”
Gamboa came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the third with the Patriots (0-2, 0-1 Sunrise League) leading 1-0. Gamboa didn’t let Liberty starter Dawson Beard off the hook, lining a double into the left-center-field gap to clear the bases and give Rancho (7-1, 1-0) the lead for good.
Rancho tacked on two more runs in the inning on an RBI triple by Kagen Kennedy and a wild pitch.
The Rams added four more in the fifth, keyed by a two-run single by Layton Walls.
“We just put the ball in play,” Llamas said. “Our motto is get the next guy up. So that’s exactly what we did today and just kept passing the bat along.”
Walls went the distance, scattering four hits and striking out three. He pitched out of trouble early, leaving the bases loaded in the first and stranding a runner at third in the second.
“Layton pitches to contact,” Llamas said. “Usually his first inning is rough, but throughout the game he fixes his mechanics and starts getting ahead. That’s Layton. Layton does that all the time. But we trust Layton with the ball. So whenever he’s ready, he’s good to go.”
Kennedy went 2-for-3 with a double, a triple and two RBIs, and Edarian Williams was 2-for-3 with a double and three runs for the Rams. Gamboa drove in four runs for Rancho, which started off Sunrise League play with a victory after winning the Diamondback Kickoff Tournament over the weekend.
“When league play begins, the intensity rises,” Llamas said. “So it’s good for our team to play with some intensity and come out and get the (win).”