With Taylor Cole lighting up radar guns and attracting the notice of pro scouts, it was easy to overlook Donn Roach last spring.
But Roach figures to be the focal point for Bishop Gorman’s baseball team this year, at least on the mound. And he’s also a main reason the two-time defending Class 4A state champion Gaels are favored again this season.
The senior right-hander has signed with Arizona and has been ranked among the nation’s top 50 seniors by Baseball America.
“He’s kind of been our guy,” Gorman coach Chris Sheff said. “He’s pitched in all our big games since he was a sophomore. He kind of got overshadowed last year with the way Taylor was throwing and the looks he was getting. Donnie was kind of on the back burner.”
But Roach dedicated himself to getting stronger over the summer, and with that added strength came added velocity.
Sheff said Roach was throwing 92 to 93 mph at the American Legion Western Regional, and even hit 95.
“Last year I lost focus a little bit, but I refocused this year, and I’m going to be ready to go,” said Roach, who was 6-2 with a 4.05 ERA as a junior. “I learned from my mistakes, and that’s all you can do.”
The increased velocity has attracted the attention of pro scouts, but Roach said he tries to focus on just playing the game.
“It’s a little bit (of a distraction), but I let our coaches do all that, and I don’t bother myself with it,” Roach said. “If (pro scouts) want to come see me, they come see me. If they don’t, they don’t show. I’ve got a backup plan going to Arizona. It’s a win-win situation.”
And Sheff said Roach’s experience makes him the team’s go-to pitcher.
“He’s tested, that’s the first thing,” Sheff said. “He’s pitched in a lot of big games over the course of two years. He’s starting to develop into a man. One way or another after this year, he’s going to move on to some bigger and better things.”
Roach is just one piece of the puzzle for Gorman. The Gaels sport a deep pitching staff with Jeff Malm (8-2, 1.91), Brandon Garcia (5-0, 2.74) and Paul Sewald (5-0, 2.69) returning.
Those three also will play key roles in the batting order along with senior catcher John Rickard and junior center fielder Joey Rickard.
Malm, a first baseman, was a first-team all-state selection as a sophomore, batting .453 with four home runs and 57 RBIs. Joey Rickard also made first team all-state after hitting .437 with four homers and 73 runs.
Garcia, who has signed with Southern California, was a second-team all-state outfielder after hitting .466 with six homers and 38 RBIs. Sewald (.343) has signed with San Diego, and John Rickard (.370, five homers) has signed with Dixie State.
That potent lineup has earned the Gaels national notice. Gorman is ranked No. 2 in the nation by Perfect Game and No. 12 by Baseball America.
“We’re just trying to forget about all the rankings and stuff and just go out and play baseball,” Garcia said. “None of that stuff matters.”
And Sewald said that anything less than another state title would be a disappointment.
“I know we’ve won the last couple, but the seniors want to make sure we go out on top,” Sewald said. “You’re always going to remember the one you didn’t win if we don’t win this year.”
Contact Prep Sports Editor Damon Seiters at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 380-4587.PLAYERS TO WATCH
Arbor View — David McClure
Basic — Marcus Romero, Brett Wellman
Bishop Gorman — Brandon Garcia, Jeff Malm, Joey Rickard, Donn Roach
Bonanza — Tomo Delp, Chasen Shreve
Centennial — Trevor Goff
Cimarron-Memorial — Kody Gorden
Durango — Jayson McClaren, Niko Vasquez
Green Valley — Matt Harrison, Nick Melino, Jordan Van Hoosier
Las Vegas — Marvin Campbell, Wesley Grass, Bryan Harper
Rancho — Justin Neubauer
Silverado — Jordan Keegan, Stefan Norman
Spring Valley — Cody Collins, Conner McKenna
Valley — Larry Valdes