Last Update: Thursday, May 16, 2013
|Staying – and Owning – the Course|
|Written by Mike Terry|
|Thursday, 14 March 2013 03:18|
Pitcher Alonzo Garcia Had A Terrific 2012 Season For The San Fernando Tigers And Shows No Signs Of Regressing
Both San Fernando High Coach Armando Gomez and baseball scouts laud Garcia's ability to compete no matter what situations occur during a game.
The 2013 City baseball season is not yet two weeks old, so you don't expect pitchers to be throwing in large numbers or going the distance in games, even seven-inning ones.
Yet here is San Fernando High righthander Alonzo Garcia, a junior, about to throw his 98th and final pitch in a 5-1 victory against visiting Wilmington Banning on Monday, March 11.
He allowed only three hits in this complete game, to the delight of the home crowd looking on. He had only one shaky inning – the third, when Banning would load the bases with no outs. But the Pilots scored their only run on a double- play grounder.
Garcia's complete-game effort, which includes six strikeouts, three walks and a hit batsman, has caught the eye of a college scout who was down to watch several players from both teams.
King Of The Hill - Right-hander Alonzo Garcia, a junior has won 15 games and lost only two in one-plus seasons as the No.1 pitcher in the San Fernando High rotation. On Monday, March 11, he pitched a complete game victory against Wilmington Banning.
"After struggling in the third inning, it seems he got stronger as the game went on," said the scout, who spoke on a condition or anonymity. "In the 4th/5th innings he really attacked the strike zone. He started (Banning) off with fastball strikes then threw curves for strikes. What I really liked – he competes. He got out of jams, made adjustments. He really competes."
What the scout didn't know – Garcia didn't reveal until after the game – was pitching with an injured right thumb. He had jammed it in the infield dirt trying to make a play in that third inning.
When complimented on battling through the injury, Garcia slightly shrugged.
"I like to finish what I start," he said. "My pitch count wasn't that bad. I felt pretty good. And that's what I train for every day, is to keep going. But I also try to pace myself. It's early in the season still. It's a rhythm thing. "I had jammed my thumb in the third inning. But the trainer took care of me. And in the fourth inning I started getting back into my groove."
Garcia, 17, has a relaxed presence on the mound that is considered a strength by the Tigers coaching staff. As long as the 6-3, 175- pound teen has gotten in his workouts and prepared himself for his starts, he doesn't let what happens in the game rattle or upset him – unless he loses, of course. It's one reason why Coach Armando Gomez had no qualms about making Garcia his No.1 starter last year as a sophomore even before he had pitched in a varsity game.
"Everyone was razzing me about (his decision)," Gomez said. "But they hadn't seen the practices, hadn't seen his bullpen sessions. We needed someone to take over for David Lira as being No.1 and he was the guy. Nothing fazes him; he's calm as can be. And he's a competitor."
Garcia rewarded Gomez's faith with a tremendous season: a 12-1 record with a 1:05 earned run average. He pitched 85.2 innings, gave up 54 hits (of which only eight – two homers, six doubles – were for extra bases) and 25 runs with only 10 of them earned. He walked 21, hit two batters and struck out 82.
And Garcia is showing no letup in 2013. The win against Banning raised his record to 3- 1, with a 2.45 ERA. In 22 innings pitched, he has struck out 21, walked seven, hit four batters, and given up 18 hits and 11 runs, of which six are earned.
Gomez believes the best is yet to come because Garcia hasn't finished maturing physically. "I think he needs to fill out," the coach said. "He's still young. That's what the scouts have said because he's not throwing as hard as they think he should, topping the speed gun at 84-85 mph right now."
Even without a bat-busting heater, Garcia has command of four pitches: fastball, curve, slider and circle change. He is not only knowledgeable of the strike zone, he has been precise in putting the ball exactly where he wants – and where hitters can do the least amount of damage.
"I think he leads by example, by his hard work and that nothing fazes him," Gomez said. "That does a lot for our team. And when he steps on the mound, I don't like it but they just expect him to win."
It's not often that a pitcher is a team leader since they're not in every game like position players. But Garcia is altering that perception, too, by being in the lineup more regularly as a first baseman or designated hitter. "Last year I learned a lot [about leadership] from the guys who had been here a couple of years," Garcia said.
"Unfortunately it didn't go our way at the end of the season. But that helped me grow, not only as a player but also as a person.
"I just push myself to use that as motivation to work hard, and come this year and do better. I know what everybody's going through, and that sometimes things won't go your way.
But you've got to keep working at it use [adversity] as motivation and keep working hard, and keep growing."
Garcia is working hard in the classroom as well. His last report card had all "A's" except for a "B" in AP Calculus, for which Gomez playfully gives him grief. But, as Gomez knows, the strong academics are a big reason why UCLA and Stanford are showing interest. Garcia said it is too soon for him to think about that.
"I want to go Division I, so that's my main focus. I know I have to keep my grades up, and keep doing what I'm doing," he said. "As the season goes on, and if I do well, that will come by itself. I just have to focus on playing ball and worry about that other stuff off the field."
He appears to have the stuff on the field under control.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 14 March 2013 03:25|