An­gels hope ver­dict will bring clo­sure

Los Angeles Times - - Baseball - Mike DiGio­vanna mike.digio­vanna@latimes.com

It was 108 de­grees in Ana­heim on Mon­day, but Bobby Wil­son was prac­ti­cally shiv­er­ing when he saw a tele­vi­sion re­port that the driver in the al­co­hol-in­duced crash that killed An­gels pitcher Nick Aden­hart and two friends was found guilty of sec­ond-de­gree murder.

“I got the chills — it was the same as when I got the call from Janet [Gi­geous, Aden­hart’s mother] that morn­ing” of the April 9, 2009, ac­ci­dent, said Wil­son, an An­gels catcher and long­time friend of Aden­hart. “I still have them. It’s ter­ri­ble.”

The con­vic­tion of An­drew Thomas Gallo, a 23-year-old San Gabriel man who faces a po­ten­tial sen­tence of 51 years to life in prison, pro­duced a va­ri­ety of emo­tions in the An­gels’ club­house be­fore Mon­day night’s 6-5 win over Oak­land, in­clud­ing vin­di­ca­tion, sad­ness and re­lief.

“I have mixed feel­ings,” said in­fielder Bran­don Wood, a close friend of Aden­hart, 22, and Henry Pearson, 25, who was also killed in the crash. “It’s a way for all of the fam­i­lies and us to get some clo­sure, but it’s un­for­tu­nate all the way around.

“A kid goes to jail for maybe the rest of his life. If that’s not a wake-up call . . . you drink and drive, and now you have 50 years in a cell to think about what your drink­ing did one night. It’s a sad story.”

Pitcher Jered Weaver didn’t have much sym­pa­thy for Gallo, whose blood-al­co­hol level was nearly three times the le­gal limit at the time of the crash, in a Fuller­ton in­ter­sec­tion.

“The guy ob­vi­ously got what was com­ing to him,” Weaver said. “He de­serves what he got. Hope­fully, this will give ev­ery­one a lit­tle clo­sure.”

The driver of the car in which Aden­hart was a pas­sen­ger, Cal State Fuller­ton stu­dent Court­ney Ste­wart, 20, was also killed. The only sur­vivor was for­mer Ti­tans catcher Jon Wil­hite, who suf­fered ex­ten­sive in­juries but was in the Santa Ana court­room when Mon­day’s ver­dict was read.

“Any way you look at it, it’s not go­ing to bring Nick back,” Wil­son said. “It’s a loss for ev­ery­body. We lost Nick, Court­ney and Henry. I know the Gallo fam­ily prob­a­bly feels the same way; they’re los­ing their son. But at least he can’t do this again to some­body else’s fam­ily, to some­body else’s friends.”

Some­thing good can come out of the ac­ci­dent, Wood said, if it de­ters oth­ers from drink­ing and driv­ing.

“If I have a buddy who’s hav­ing more than a beer or two at my place, he’s go­ing to get a cab,” Wood said. “It’s ridicu­lous. How much does a cab cost? Even if it’s $100, would you rather pay that or get a DUI and maybe spend the rest of your life in jail?”

Re­turn en­gage­ment

Hideki Mat­sui drove in the ty­ing run with a pinch-hit sin­gle, and Erick Ay­bar (hit by pitch) and Hank Conger (walk) forced in runs with the bases loaded dur­ing a de­ci­sive three-run sev­enth in­ning Mon­day. The An­gels ended a four-game los­ing streak de­spite be­ing out­hit, 15-8.

Ay­bar, out since Sept. 15 be­cause of a left groin in­jury, and third base­man Maicer Iz­turis, out since Aug. 19 be­cause of an in­flamed right shoul­der, re­turned to the lineup, and both knocked in runs in a three-run sec­ond.

With the An­gels math­e­mat­i­cally elim­i­nated, why risk ag­gra­vat­ing in­jury by play­ing the in­field­ers?

“We didn’t feel they’re at risk,” Man­ager Mike Scios­cia said. “They’ve been work­ing out ag­gres­sively for sev­eral days. . . . These guys are ready to go, and we want them in the lineup.”

Show him the money

A team spokesman would not con­firm a Fox Sports re­port that the value of Scios­cia’s 10-year con­tract, which in­cludes an opt-out clause af­ter 2015, is about $50 mil­lion, but it is be­lieved to be fairly ac­cu­rate.

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