The Student News Site of Clayton High School.

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The Student News Site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

The Student News Site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

Gold leads Hounds in box, on mound and behind plate

Senior catcher and pitcher Graham Gold has gotten off to a torrid start to the baseball season.
Gold has helped the team to a 7-5 start while catching, pitching, and batting in the cleanup spot in the order.
“Coming in to this season, we had a clean-up hitter in Matt Militello who we really wanted to be our number three hitter so the other team had to pitch to him in the first inning,” varsity head coach Craig Sucher said.  “We tried some different things, and knew we had to find somebody hit behind Matt [Militello] that people would take seriously.  In a sense, Graham has become our Matt Holliday but we pay him much less.  As Graham has emerged as a legitimate threat, our team got much better, not just from his production but because people are more compelled to pitch to Matt and help his production as well.”
At the plate, Gold is hitting a team-high .500 with two home runs and 15 RBI’s.  One of Gold’s two home runs was a grand slam against Affton on March 31.  In that game, Gold finished four for four with six RBI’s to lead the Hounds to a 14-7 win.  Gold’s .778 slugging percentage also leads the team.  Gold’s numbers are a drastic improvement over last season, when he batted in the seventh hole for the most part.
“I really like hitting fourth, right behind Matt, because by the time I come up, someone is on-base almost every time,” Gold said.
Even though Gold has a hit in every game but one, there are still things that he needs to work on at the plate.
“At the plate, Graham needs to be more consistent,” Sucher said.  “He was white-hot one week and while its not realistic to expect that he can keep up that pace–he gave up too many at-bats the next week with two strikes.  Baseball is a game of adjustments and our opponents are mindful of our statistics and are pitching Graham more carefully.  He needs to recognize this and be prepared to hit more off-speed pitches early in the count.”
While dominant at the plate, Gold’s contributions to the team have come in almost every aspect of the game.  When catching, Gold must be able to shut down the running game, adjust to hitters in split-second scenarios, and still be able to nurture the predominantly upper class pitching staff.
“Even though I like pitching the most, because you control the game in a sense, I also like to catch because the catcher is really the guy who is calling the game behind the scenes,” Gold said.
Not to mention that the Hounds have a pitching staff that is much stronger than in recent years.
“My favorite pitcher to catch is probably Chase [Haslett] because I have been catching him for a while and he will do whatever I tell him to do,” Gold said.
Haslett is a Division I prospect according to several recruiting websites, and Gold has done a great job of guiding Haslett to his 2.93 ERA (second on the team).
“Graham is a great guy to have catching because when I’m really struggling he always knows what to say or do to calm me down,” Haslett said.
On most teams, the catcher is a leader of sorts, and on the Hounds, Gold is a perfect example.
“Graham is a natural leader,” Sucher said.  We have talked throughout the season about our players having a quiet confidence in their ability so that they never get too high with their successes and too low with their failures.  Staying in the middle is critical because in baseball as much or more than any other sport, the successes and failures come so quickly.  A player has to constantly be mentally strong.  Graham had a historic week two weeks ago, where it seems like he would never make an out or a mistake on the mound or defensively.  This past week has been different, it was a rough start on the mound, sore arm, and less productive at the plate.  Graham is a leader though because you can’t tell by his demeanor whether is was his great week or something less than that.  Graham keeps it in the middle and leads by example.  It is a lesson that many of our other players can benefit by learning.”
Haslett’s 2.93 ERA is second only to the ace of the staff himself, Gold, who has a 2.47 ERA.  Gold has relied on a filthy two-seam fastball to keep hitters at bay and produce a meager .150 BAA (Batting Average Against).  Although for the most of the season, Gold’s pitching has been downright nasty, he still thinks he has room for improvement.
“I still need to be able to consistently throw strikes in order to get ahead in counts and keep my pitch count down,” Gold said.
Sucher echoed Gold’s opinion.
“On the mound, I think Graham is still not at his best,” Sucher said.  “When he is, and at times he has been, he has guys swinging early in the count.  Graham exemplifies the approach of pitching to contact which keeps pitch counts down and makes it possible to go deep in games.  Again, at times, Graham has done this by using two-seamer to get in on right-handed batters and cutter to go away.  He still needs to develop better command and more consistently pitch ahead in the count.”
Gold will be looking to stay hot as the season rolls on and the Hounds continue to rely on his production.
“I expect Graham to continue to be a great leader, productive in the middle of our order, a competitor on the mound, and a hard-nosed catcher,” Sucher said.
That will be key in the Hounds’ tough upcoming stretch of games.  The Hounds play four games in four days from April 13 to April 16.  On April 16, district rival MICDS will be coming to Clayton for a 6:30 Friday night game.
“I can’t wait for the MICDS game because we are going to bang for sure,” Gold said.
Indeed the team looks prepared to do just that, as they are currently averaging close to ten runs per game.  Much of this can be attributed to Gold’s newfound power.
“In the offseason I did a lot of cord work and lifted a lot of weights to build up for the season,” Gold said.  “Because of that, I am definitely hitting much better this year, and my warning track power like Charles’ [Goodman] has become home run power to all fields like Matt’s [Militello].”
Sucher also agreed that Gold’s newly toned physique was quite noticeable from the start of the season.
“Physically, Graham added noticeable strength,” Sucher said.  “And offensively, Graham is doing a much better job of staying behind the ball and hitting to the opposite field, something that he can do better now that he is stronger.”
If Gold can keep us his hot start to the season, the Hounds have a much greater chance of success.
At the same time, Gold’s off the field contributions have also been essential to the winning record the team carries so far.
“Graham is just a great guy to have in the clubhouse because he keeps the mood light,” senior outfielder Charles Goodman said.
Gold truly has been a leader in the batter’s box, on the mound, behind the plate, and in the clubhouse.

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Gold leads Hounds in box, on mound and behind plate