In a typical high school baseball game, which is seven innings, a team needs to record 21 outs of its opponent to emerge with a win. Given only 21 outs to work with, anytime a pitcher reaches the 10 strikeout threshold or more, that feat tends to turn the head of nearby scouts.
So imagine what those in attendance thought when they sat back and watched a Sacramento (Calif.) Grant Union High pitcher mow down 17 batters in regulation of the Pacers' narrow, 3-2 win against Inderkum (Calif.) High. Even more impressive was the fact that the Grant ace who recorded all but four of the game's outs via the K is only a sophomore.
As noted by the Sacramento Bee, Cameron Avila-Leeper's 17-strikeout effort is among the best in the area's history. It isn't nearly the best ever nationwide -- Brett Jennings of Lingleville, Texas, somehow threw 24 in a seven-inning game in 1986 (seemingly because of multiple players reaching base because of passed balls on third strikes) -- but it still is a truly remarkable total for any hurler, let alone a budding sophomore who stands just 5-foot-10 and 145 pounds.
"I'm just trying to get outs," Avila-Leeper told the Bee. "I didn't know I had that many strikeouts."
Avila-Leeper's dominant afternoon on the mound led the Pacers to a 8-2 season record, the program's best since 1990. That improvement is due in large part to Avila-Leeper, who could end up as the most dominant strikeout pitcher in the Sacramento area in ages. The sophomore's 17 K's followed a 16-strikeout performance against Rio Linda (Calif.) High and a 13-punch-out game against Sacramento (Calif.) Folsom High earlier this season. He also struck out 13 in his most recent outing.
While it may be some time before anyone knows just how great Avila-Leeper will be considered in the full test of time, his coach already knows he is dealing with a special player already.
"Those are really big numbers," Grant head baseball coach Danny Chavez told the Bee. "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."