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September 28, 2023

Baseball | Greenfield High pitcher sets eyes on league title

GREENFIELD — Greenfield High sophomore pitcher Manuel Gutierrez posted a 7-5 record with a 1.84 earned run average (ERA) that won him Pitcher of the Year in the Cypress Division last season. But the road to get to this point in his career as one of the top pitchers in the Pacific Coast Athletic League has been a tough one.

Last year the Greenfield Bruins’ baseball team had a season of ups and downs as they posted a 12-10 record in the Cypress Division. One of the bright spots for the Bruins was out pitcher Gutierrez, who gave them a chance every time he was on the mound, pitching 60.2 innings.

Any team that faced Gutierrez no doubt saw the talent that he had. At the end of the year when coaches from each team in the Cypress voted on who wins individual awards, it was Gutierrez who they picked to be Pitcher of the Year.

When he got the news that he won the award, he was shocked because he knew Stevenson pitcher Trent Toole would be the front-runner since they were league champs.

“I honestly didn’t expect to get it, because I knew I had competition from Stevenson’s Trent Toole, who had a good year,” Gutierrez said. “My coaches put in a good word at the league meeting, so I’m super grateful for them.”

Winning Pitcher of the Year has been part of the journey that has paid off since Gutierrez first picked up a baseball at 5 years old.

“Baseball has been the only sport that I know since I was 5 years old,” he said. “I’ve been playing this game for about 12 years now, and I just fell in love with it since I first started playing it.”

Growing up, Gutierrez learned from his brother Josue, who played baseball for Hartnell College and also went to Greenfield High School. Josue is the oldest of three brothers, and taught Alejandro and Manuel to have love for the game.

“I had two older brothers who played baseball,” Gutierrez said. “My older brother (Josue) took me under his wing, and he has been teaching me since I picked up a baseball.”

Although his older brother played a key role in his life, Gutierrez’s inspiration is his parents. They are hardworking and have supported their three sons during their sports careers.

Another way he tries to make his parents proud was by doing good in the classroom, where he has a 4.0 GPA.

“Just making mom and dad proud,” he said.

In October 2020, Gutierrez’s life would change forever. During that month, he lost his father, who died from Covid-19.

“I always miss him watching me pitch,” he said. “He was always my No. 1 fan. Every time I pitch, I do it for him now.”

Going into this season, the Bruins are the favorite to win the Cypress Division. Heading into his junior year, Gutierrez would like to get noticed by a couple of colleges. He knows if he could help lead the team to the league title, his goal of playing at the next level is a possibility.

“I want to win a league title, win Pitcher of the Year, and make first-team’s al-league,” he said. “I want to do anything that can make my team win.”

To help improve his game, Gutierrez started going to the Kinetic Performance Institute to help improve his pitching. While there, his fastball had improved to 89 mph.

“I’ve been working out at a facility in Morgan Hill,” he said. “I go up there three times a week to improve on my pitching.”

So far this season, when Gutierrez has pitched, he is 1-0 and hasn’t given up a run.

With the pressure of trying to win a league title, Gutierrez doesn’t feel any of it when he is on the mound. He said nothing matters as he gets lost in the game.

“It’s just me and the catcher,” he said. “I’m locked in, just trying to get the guy out at the plate.”

Gutierrez and the Bruins headed to Marina on Monday.

Jason Gallardo
Jason Gallardo is the sports reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers high school sports for South Monterey County.


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