Last spring, the Gompers baseball team rode the left arms of Juan Hilario and Dominique Parra all the way to the PSAL Class A semifinals.
In the opener of this postseason, it was Hilario on the mound again, tossing seven brilliant, one-hit innings in front of an impeccable defense that handled every chance flawlessly. Parra was integral, too – but with his bat.
The senior belted a sixth-inning home run – the only run of the pitcher’s duel – as the 16th-seeded Panthers blanked No. 17 Stuyvesant, 1-0, at St. Mary’s Park in the Bronx Wednesday afternoon.
He drilled the long line drive to dead center field off Hitmen ace Nolan Becker, a hard-throwing southpaw bound for Yale, in the sixth inning.
“When I saw the ball reach the mound of the other diamond and Dominique rounding second, I was sending him,” Gompers coach Louis Figueroa said.
Hilario, who walked two, struck out eight and allowed just the one hit, a single by senior shortstop Zachary Karson, closed it out. He walked two in the seventh, but struck out sophomore third baseman Scott Chiusano looking to end it.
It was yet another frustrating afternoon for Becker, who paid dearly for his one mistake. The dominant senior struck out 11 and allowed just two hits. He received a no decision in his last start, an eventual 7-1, eight-inning loss to Beacon, after allowing no earned runs in seven innings.
The win sets up an enticing pitching duel against top-seeded Norman Thomas, between Parra and ace right-hander Mariel Checo, who draws Major League scouts every time he pitches.
After an under-the-radar, 10-6 finish in Bronx A West, one of the best divisions in the city, Gompers (11-6) is thinking big yet again. it made the semis last year as the 13th seed, knocking off No. 4 Monroe and No. 5 Norman Thomas in the process. Figueroa sees similarities – Hilario and Parra, after all, still head his pitching staff – but actually feels this current team is better offensively and defensively.