VAN NUYS — Chris Gray won the sideshow as Chaminade High beat Crespi, 7-4, in a Mission League baseball opener Friday at Valley College.
Gray, a junior right-hander, began throwing sidearm last summer as an experiment and had a 7-0 record in American Legion play.
Against Crespi (3-3), Gray outlasted right-handed sidearmer Jon Cuccias, pitching into the seventh inning before reliever Mike Whitaker closed the door on a Celt rally.
Gray (2-1), who struck out two and walked one, escaped one jam after another, scattering 10 hits and stranding eight baserunners.
Cuccias (1-2), who allowed six hits, was less fortunate before yielding to Barry Matthews in the sixth.
Chaminade (5-1) scored four runs in the fourth inning to take a 6-1 lead, and the Eagles led, 6-3, when Cuccias was chased.
Defense made a difference for Chaminade. The Eagles backed Gray with two double plays and two force plays. But after yielding a leadoff single to Andy Campanella in the seventh, Gray was removed by Coach Denny Barrett. Whitaker allowed one run before retiring the side.
"We were taking it one batter at a time," Gray said. "I wasn't supposed to go the seventh."
Gray tinkered with a new throwing motion in the bullpen last season and has been honing his delivery ever since.
"It was just an experiment, and I liked it," Gray said. "And Coach Barrett wanted to see me come from the side."
Gray and senior Gabe Crecion figure to give the Eagles a formidable rotation.
Crecion had two hits, including a double.