Saturday will be a huge day in the life of Palmer’s Jeremy Gauna. Gauna is an All-State center fielder for the Bulldog baseball team who has moved to shortstop for this season.
Saturday at 4 p.m. the Bulldogs (24-8) will hit the diamond at Carrollton’s Kelly Field to take on Gunter (26-7) in the UIL Class 2A Region II quarterfinals. The series will begin Thursday night at Kelly Field and game three if necessary will be held Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.
Gauna’s day will begin a tad earlier though as the 6’-3” senior will leave for Austin at 5 a.m. to participate in the UIL State Track and Field Meet. An all around athlete Gauna was persuaded to compete in the long jump and the high jump at the district meet.
“I hadn’t even practiced but I agreed to go jump,” Gauna stated. “I still haven’t been able to practice because I have been working on baseball.”
Gauna won the district meet in the long jump and high jump to qualify for the Region II meet. “I still didn’t have time for track practice so I just went to the meet and jumped. I thought I could win in the long jump, but I finished third. I did take second in the high jump to qualify for the state meet,” Gauna added.
That adds up to a very long day on Saturday for the talented athlete. At 10 a.m. he will be lined up to go for a gold medal in the high jump and as soon as the competition is over must hit the road to make it back to Carrollton in time for the second game in a best of three series with Gunter.
His excitement; however, is for the baseball team. “As a team we are confident right now. Everybody goes to the plate wanting a solid hit. Everyone thinks ‘I can do it’. Even the younger guys want to do it for the seniors. In my four years on the varsity this is the most team oriented bunch of guys I have ever seen. We pull for each other,” Gauna enthused.
Gauna is the first to point out that the Bulldogs are not a one man team. “We are solid on defense with Jarrett Stone behind the plate. T. J. Barnes and Timmy Sparkman play first. Jake Spurgeon is at second. At third is Wayne Kemp or Colby Cottongame. The outfield is Jordan Greenlee in right, Cody Oates in center and Taylor Langthorn in left. Sparkman, Kemp, Cottongame, Barnes and Greenlee are on the pitching staff.”
The leadoff hitter is Stone (.312, 2 2B, 4 3B). Second in the order is Cottongame (.203) and third is Spurgeon (.303, 1 HR). Cleanup hitter is Sparkman (.243) and Gauna (.381, 4 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR). Batting sixth is Greenlee (.236) and seventh is Langthorn (.338). The eighth slot is filled by Oates (.207) followed by Barnes (.226).
“We have been missing my friend Wayne Kemp,” Gauna added.
Kemp leads the team with a batting average of .439 with three doubles, a triple to compliment seven home runs and 42 RBIs.
The Bulldog pitching staff is even tougher. Sparkman has a 1-0 record and a perfect 0.00 ERA having not allowed an earned run in nine innings pitched. Cottongame has an ERA of 1.70 that translates into a 7-2 record over 52 2/3 innings pitched. Kemp with a 1.89 ERA for 44 1/3 innings has a won loss record of 6-3. Barnes has an ERA of 2.86 and a record of 3-0.
Kemp leads the team with 52 strikeouts, while Cottongame has registered 41.
“We know that Gunter is a solid team,” Gauna said. “Coach Johnson told us that they have a great tradition in baseball and will come to play hard. But we are confident and just need to go out and play our game.”