Gabrial Lopez’s dream became a reality earlier this month when he pitched at a Major League Baseball stadium.
The Central Valley High School senior/San Francisco State University commit participated in the Best in the US National Showcase-West event, Nov. 13-14, at Chase Field in Arizona.
“I went to a Diamondbacks game in Phoenix a couple years ago,” he said. “I envisioned pitching there. My dream became a reality. It was definitely really cool.”
Lopez, 16, attended a workout at Chase Field on Nov. 13.
“I had a lot of great baseball minds around me,” he said. “The coaches helped me a lot.”
Lopez struck out seven of 10 batters while starting Game One for Team White on Nov. 14.
He allowed just one infield hit and induced one groundout and lineout.
“That’s the biggest stage I’ve played on,” he said. “It was an amazing opportunity. Once I get on the mound, all the stress is released. I control what I can control.”
A total of 60 players from 22 different states and six countries earned invitations to the Arizona event. Each of the four teams had 15-man rosters.
More than 40 college coaches and scouts were in attendance.
“It’s the most prestigious thing he’s been to,” said Antone Lopez, Gabrial’s father. “It was awesome.”
Lopez will continue his baseball career at San Francisco State.
He signed a national letter of intent with the Gators on Nov. 11.
“This is definitely a huge milestone I will always remember,” Gabrial Lopez said. “I’ve been playing baseball since I was four years old. To get to this point, there’s an overwhelming amount of joy.”
“I’ve always wanted to go to college in San Francisco,” he added. “It’s my favorite city. I instantly fell in love with everything about the school as soon as I stepped on campus. I met all the players. I felt like I belonged there. It’s an amazing environment.”
Ceres Youth Baseball (CYB) and Central Valley High School staged signing ceremonies for Lopez earlier this month.
CYB leader Jorge Guerrero recognized Lopez in front of family, friends, and former teammates and coaches at the George Costa Ball Field Complex.
“It was really special,” Gabrial Lopez said.
Lopez played 13 seasons with CYB, including nine with Ceres Blaze travel teams.
“They wanted me to speak,” Antone Lopez said. “I was very emotional. I broke down in front of everybody. A lot of people helped him along the way. It just wasn’t him.”
“If it wasn’t for my dad, CYB and the Blaze, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am,” Gabrial Lopez said. “They taught me how to play the game right.”
A four-year member of Central Valley’s baseball program, Lopez will wrap up his pitching career with the Hawks this spring.
Lopez made history this past season by becoming just the second player from Central Valley to earn Most Valuable Player honors.
He was named Western Athletic Conference South Division MVP in a vote by the league’s head coaches.
Lopez posted a perfect 7-0 record on the mound with a 0.60 earned-run average, one no-hitter, three shutouts, six complete games, 84 strikeouts and 18 walks as Central Valley amassed a 14-4 overall record and claimed its first-ever conference championship (8-1).
“Baseball treats you well when you put in the work,” Lopez said. “I find so much joy in the grind.”