HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — “Without him, obviously we would not be where we’re at right now,” Spain Park head baseball coach Will Smith said.
Who is CJ for people who don’t know who you are?
“I’m just a guy,” Gross said.
Everyone who’s played Spain Park this year with number-9 on the mound is trying to figure out the same thing.
“We didn’t know what to expect with CJ,” Smith said.
As a junior who had only played JV baseball, CJ got called up to varsity this February.
“Obviously I knew these Varsity hitters were going to be better, more difficult, I’d have to step up my game,” Gross said.
Ten starts later, he went from a mystery to history.
“I thought eventually the record would be broken, but if you would have told me at the beginning of the season that CJ would have broken it this year, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Smith said.
In his first year playing varsity, he set the school record with 10 wins in a season on Friday with the win over James Clemons to open the playoffs. The previous record was set in 2012.
“I figured I was close and of course, they told me after our game on Friday that I beat it, so I was like, cool,” Gross said.
He’s pretty nonchalant, but don’t let that fool you — CJ put in a lot of work to get where he is now.
“It takes a special guy from a mentality standpoint, kind of a bulldog type of mentality, and I didn’t know that he had that in him, and that’s been the thing that he’s kind of surprised us all with this year,” Smith said.
Spain Park travels to Vestavia Hills for the second round of the playoffs, beginning May 5 at 4:30 p.m.