Suarez soldiers on for Vaqueros

Burroughs graduate and Glendale college's tough catcher hasn't let injuries keep him from giving his all to team's current playoff quest

May 13, 2011|By Grant Gordon,

Ahead of the program's first regional postseason appearance since 2002, Glendale Community College Coach Chris Cicuto was worried about his team's layoff of more than a week between its regular-season finale and its playoff opener.

Alas, he conceded that although he was worried about so much time off, it was good for his group of Vaqueros that had seemingly battled injuries all season long to have some time to heal up.

Even before the season began, Cicuto lost a pair of possible starters. Then there was Eric Matranga, who blew out his knee during a collision with a teammate. There was Scott Hong, who was having a standout season before it was ended with a broken fibula and a dislocated ankle. And a pair of shoulder injuries to Matt McCallister and Nick Woodward also left the team with holes to fill.


And in reply to the oft asked question of whether a player is hurt or injured, sophomore catcher Erik Suarez could say yes to both. Suarez, the Vaqueros' starting catcher, is currently dealing with a broken index finger and a fractured left hand.

But there's never been a hole to fill at catcher this season.

"He never made it a big deal, ever," Cicuto says. "Everyday he's saying he's fine, he wants to play."

And play Suarez has, contributing mightily to a memorable GCC season that saw them win the Western State Conference South Division title before advancing to today's Super Regional.

Suarez, a Burroughs High graduate, has been a valuable defensive presence as a backstop, a solid hitter in the No. 3 hole, handled a brilliant pitching staff and perhaps just as valuable as any of his contributions has been his ability to captain his team through his perseverance and his ability to exemplify toughness and the role of a team player.

"He's not only tough, but he's mature enough to take on the responsibility as a captain," Cicuto says. "Erik is the type who stepped up."

Through 34 regular-season games, Suarez batted .308 with 25 runs and 18 runs batted in. They're solid numbers, sure, but hardly the kind that jump off the page. Suarez' true worth and contribution to the Vaqueros' cause is much more than that and often times far removed from statistics.

"Just a leader," says reliever Michael Noteware of Suarez as a teammate. "Just a guy who you know is gonna do his job. You don't have to worry about Erik."

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