The Granada Hills High bats fell silent Thursday night, and later, the voices that loudly questioned Rodney Beck were reduced to whispers.
Beck, the villain with the Fu Manchu mustache, had once again proved that whatever his mouth says, his arm can back up.
Beck closed out his high school career by pitching Grant High to its first City 4-A championship with a 5-1 victory over Granada Hills at Dodger Stadium. In the process, he shut down a Highlander team that had scored 39 runs in three playoff games.
Granada Hills, a team with six hitters batting better than .300 in its starting lineup, was held to three measly singles.
And how did Beck grade his performance?
"For effectiveness, somewhere around the middle for the season," Beck said as a postgame celebration exploded around him. "But for importance, it had to be No. 1."
Granada Hills threatened in the first inning, scored in the second and left two runners on base in the third.
In the first, leadoff batter Greg Fowble reached second on a passed ball and a throwing error by Sean Pettway after he had struck out.
Dean Yoshitani then sacrificed in an effort to move Fowble to third, only he wasn't content to stay there very long.
As Beck walked back to the mound after the out at first, Fowble tried to sneak home. He was safe as Beck's throw was dropped by Pettway, but time out had been called.
"It made me feel good that they were trying that kind of thing and bunting all the time against me," Beck said. "It made me feel like they didn't think they were going to be able to swing the bat against me.
"They did the same thing against Poly so it came as no surprise."
Beck, who was selected in the 13th round by the Oakland A's in the amateur draft two weeks ago, struggled early as he tried to adjust to the Dodger Stadium mound.
"It seemed like the mound was flat," Beck said. "As a result, my curveball was flat. I couldn't keep anything down. It took me three innings to get used to it."
Even so, he allowed only the second inning, and after the third inning, Granada Hills baserunners became scarce.
Only two runners reached base after the third inning. Kent Lowry was hit by a pitch with two outs in the seventh inning and Dan Ginnetti singled to center in the fifth.
"Everybody told me how good he was and they scared the heck out of me all week," said Granada Hills' Coach Darryl Stroh. "I'll tell you what, he was better than they said he was."
Said Fowble, the Highlanders' All-City shortstop: "I think he threw a great game. He hit the corners and mixed it up real well. He kept us guessing the whole night."
And this from the player who two days before had said:
"Hopefully, we can put him in the dugout so he can watch his own team play, since he wants to sit in the stands and watch himself play."
Fowble's remarks stemmed from a quote by Beck in the newspaper after Grant's 7-3 victory over San Fernando in the semifinals. "I was pretty impressed with myself today," Beck had said.
Said Beck on Thursday, moments after the game: "We've got bragging rights now. Our team can be as cocky as we want because we're City champs. My arm can back up what I do say--but I still don't want other athletes to think I'm cocky.
"I'm just confident."
And he has plenty to be confident about.
Beck struck out seven and walked only two in the championship game. That gave him totals of 27 innings pitched, three earned runs, 17 hits allowed, 35 strikeouts and nine walks in winning all four of Grant's playoff games.
He was the easy choice as the tournament's most valuable player.
Pettway, Beck's catcher on the varsity for three seasons, also capped his high school career with a good game.
Although he had three passed balls and an error, he also had three hits and two RBIs.
"I kept making errors and then thinking, 'I better make up for each one with a hit,' " he said.
And after he did so, he graded his pitcher's performance.
"This was definitely one of his top performances," Pettway said. "Why? Well, because he did it at Dodger Stadium."