By Tom Price Jr.
Abel Gamboa is quiet, usually answering questions with a single word.
But when this silent southpaw takes the mound for the Lindsay Cardinals it's the opposing hitters who are left speechless.
In 49 innings this season Gamboa has allowed just 17 earned runs for a 2.43 ERA and a 5-1 record. Thus far he is averaging nearly seven strikeouts a contest.
"He is a great kid, almost too quiet. If you didn't know him you wouldn't think he is as tough as he is," Lindsay coach John Morrelli said. "He is the best 'lefty' I have had since Lupe Cartagena, and I think Abel will be every bit as good as Lupe."
Cartagena starred for the Cardinals in the 1980's.
Gamboa's transformation from freshman standout a year ago to varsity starter didn't happen over night. A versatile athlete, he also made the jump in football (starting quarterback), basketball (starting center) and now baseball.
"I think playing varsity in the other sports helped me," Gamboa said. "I was nervous at first but I knew I would fit in."
On March 30, Gamboa made sure the rest of the East Sequoia League knew he belonged, when he quieted the bats of the defending league champ, Exeter. He pitched a complete game five-hitter in a 4-2 win.
"He has a good fastball for a sophomore and a really good curve," Lindsay catcher Tomas Cervantes said. "When he gets on, the game is over."
Five times this season, Gamboa has pitched complete game victories, averaging just one earned run per seven innings in those outings.
Having already proven himself as a varsity pitcher Gamboa now hopes to become a leader on his team. And yes he said begrudgingly, a vocal leader.
"I want to be more vocal on the field," Gamboa said. "I am already starting to get better."
Cervantes, who played football with Gamboa and blocked for him as an offensive lineman for the Cardinals says Gamboa has grown tremendously since the football season.
"He is way more vocal now," Cervantes said. "On the football team he was real quiet, he just shut his mouth and did what coach told him to do,"
Now, Gamboa is the one commanding the attention, and with two more years left at Lindsay he has a lot of time to grow.