The Golden Gate National Junior Division All-Stars showed they don't need to hit to win baseball games.
Not as long as they have Stephen Grove on the mound.
Golden Gate National had just one hit, but Grove tossed a one-hit, 13 strikeout masterpiece in a 4-1 win over rival Golden Gate American for the District 18 title Sunday at Golden Gate Community Park.
The win puts Golden Gate National in the sectional tournament, starting Friday in Venice.
"Both teams pitched pretty well, but we were able to take advantage of walks and some mistakes by (Golden Gate American)," Golden Gate National coach Mitch Witter said. "But the real difference in this game was Stephen Grove. He was on top of his game from the beginning."
Golden Gate American scored first, getting an unearned run without a hit in the top of the first when Peter Falisi drew a one-out walk, took second on a wild pitch and scored on an infield error. Grove struck out the side in the first and repeated the feat in the second.
"My fastball was really working," Grove said. "And when I got into a bind, the curve was there for me."
His teammates immediately erased the deficit by scoring twice in the bottom of the first without the benefit of a hit. Consecutive walks to Grove, Matt Johnson and Marcus Pena loaded the bases with two outs. Max Tyler was hit by a pitch to force in a run, and Ben Witter walked to force in another run for a 2-1 lead.
Grove took care of the rest, retiring seven straight batters before Jamie Bizub walked with one out in the fourth. Golden Gate American didn't have a hit until Bizub singled with one out in the sixth to put runners on first and second. But Johnson threw a runner out stealing (one of two runners he caught in the game) and Grove fanned Pedro Carillo to end the threat.
"Whatever it takes to help the team win games," Johnson said. "I felt confident I could nail the runners if they tried to steal."
Grove wasn't disappointed to see his no-hitter broken up.
"I didn't even know I had one," Grove said. "I was just focused on getting outs. But (Bizub) is a good hitter, he was the guy I thought I might have some trouble with."
Grove helped himself at the plate, ripping an RBI single in the second — his team's only hit. Golden Gate National offset the lack of hitting by drawing 12 walks and capitalizing on four Golden Gate American errors.
"We didn't hit our best today, but we got some runners on and moved them up," Johnson said. "And (Grove) pitched a great game."
Grove walked four and hit a batter but was able to pitch out of the jams with the help of Johnson and a stellar defensive effort.
"With the defense I have, I don't feel I need to strike everybody out," Grove said. "I know if they hit the ball, my defense will make plays behind me."