By Joe Davidson
This was so good, we are in the midst of digging through the archives and picking old brains to see if it is a record.
It appears history was made.
Cameron Avila-Leeper of Grant High School struck out 17 in seven innings of blistering work in a 3-2 nonleague victory today over Inderkum in what is believed to be a Pacers record.
Just a sophomore, the hard-throwing left-handed Avila-Leeper struck out the side three times, delighting scores of Grant fans who have come out in full force in this revival season for the Pacers, who are off to a 7-2 start, the program's best since Mike Alberghini last coached the team in 1990. One of Alberghini's top arms in his baseball career before his monstrous ongoing run as the Pacers football coach was Danny Chavez, a key player for Grant's 1989 Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship team that went 37-5.
Chavez is now the Grant coach who has worked wonders in rebuilding a Pacers program that won nearly 500 games under Alberghini in the 1980s, through 1991. The Pacers in the 1960s and '70s were also regional powers under famed names such as Leron and Leon Lee and Tony Pepper. Still, for all of those great teams and great arms, no one struck out 17 in a game, Alberghini said tonight. Alberghini also raved about the job Chavez has done, thrilled to see the Pacers back on track after years of misery.
Chavez points to his players for their efforts, including a strong pitching staff anchored by Avila-Leeper and 6-foot-3 junior Brandon Nunn.
"Those kids have been great," Chavez said. "The whole team - everyone's getting better. We're trying to get baseball back to where it once was, to get that Pacer Pride, that Pacer four Life back into baseball. To see all the people come out and support us, it feels so good. They're watching real baseball again."
And a real live arm in Avila-Leeper, all of 5-10 and 160 pounds of gas. In addition to the 17 strikeouts he had against Inderkum, Avila-Leeper fanned 16 against Rio Linda and 13 against Folsom.
"Those are really big numbers," Chavez said.
Nine games in, so is the team's 7-2 showing.
* Grant coach Danny Chavez joins Joe Davidson and Mike Finnerty on the SureWest Sports Radio Show on Saturday morning from 9-10 a.m. on ESPN1320. The show will link on demand to ESPN1320 later in the day.
* Also check surewestsports.com for Finnerty's game report of Grant's win over Inderkum.