“The game plan today was just for him to go three or four innings, that’s what we felt we needed from him. But Gavin was just terrific today. He was not going to have the ball taken out of his hands and with him pitching like that I wasn’t going to try.”
No moment is too big for Gavin Rutherford.
It didn’t matter if he hadn’t started a game on the mound this year, if he was in a tough situation against a state ranked team or anything else that puts pressure on a player. The senior always knew he had the ability to step up and shut down any lineup in front of him.
But no one could have expected the type of performance Rutherford put together on Saturday. The senior pitched a complete game shutout against state ranked No. 6 Ridge Point, leading the Cougars to a 7-0 win over the Panthers while allowing just one walk and one hit in the win, as Cinco Ranch beat Ridge Point two games to one in the regional quarterfinal round.
“He’s only pitched five innings for us this year and we worked him a couple innings last week in case we needed him in a game three,” said Cinco Ranch head coach Brett Wallace. “The game plan today was just for him to go three or four innings, that’s what we felt we needed from him so we could turn the ball over to (Logan) Sosolik from there. But Gavin just didn’t allow us to take the ball from him today. He was terrific. He was not going to have the ball taken out of his hands and with him pitching like that I wasn’t going to try.”
Rutherford finished the day with 12 strikeouts, facing just two batters over the minimum and pitching five perfect innings and seven and 2/3 innings of no hit ball, and while some may have been surprised by his performance, Rutherford always knew that he had the abilty.
“It’s crazy and I’m still trying to comprehend what I just did, but I knew I could do it,” Rutherford said. “I was confident in myself, I trusted the coaches and I trusted the pitch calling. I just did my job and tried to execute every pitch. But it wasn’t just me, this was a team performance. My defense backed me up all day and the bats gave us runs. The boys were locked in from the jump and that’s what got us this win.”
Cinco took the lead in the third inning and never looked back. Sosolik started the scoring with an RBI triple and Charlie Atkinson hit into a sacrifice grounder to put the Cougars up two after three innings. Lucas Franco then broke things open in the fourth, blasting a 3-run home run over the right field fence to give the Cougars some big insurance runs. It was Franco’s second home run of the series and the sophomore made a terrific play at third base later in the game, showing off both the glove and the bat on Saturday.
“He’s only a sophomore and he’s already making such big plays for us,” Wallace said. “He just nails things defensively and then he finds ways to come up with clutch hits when we need it. Three run bombs are awesome and we’ll take them any time we can get them.”
The Cougars got a sixth run off an error and Brock DeYoung put things out of reach with an RBI single in the fifth inning, as Rutherford never allowed a runner to reach scoring position the rest of the way.
This is uncharted territory for the Cougars, as they advance to their first ever regional semifinal. But although they are excited about what they have accomplished, the group isn’t ready for things to be done yet.
Cinco will play Pearland in the regional semifinals in a battle between two teams that have been very strong all season.
“It’s a dream come true but this job isn’t finished for us,” Rutherford said. “There’s a bigger goal for us in mind, we’re all working towards it, we are going to keep going into every practice and keep getting better every day. We have to do that because at this point you have to be prepared and ready to go every game.”