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San Fernando pitcher is unshakable, and thus far unbeatable

Alonzo Garcia of the Tigers improves his record to 12-0 and lowers his ERA to 0.69 with a 2-0 victory over Birmingham in a City Section Division I quarterfinal.

May 24, 2012|Eric Sondheimer

A high school baseball season that began in March with Lucas Giolito of Studio City Harvard-Westlake throwing a 100-mph fastball is ending in May with sophomore right-hander Alonzo Garcia of San Fernando throwing a 77-mph fastball that is baffling City Section hitters.

"He doesn't give in to anybody, no matter the count. That makes him special," Birmingham Coach Matt Mowry said Thursday afternoon after Garcia improved to 12-0 and lowered his earned-run average to 0.69 by leading the Tigers to a 2-0 victory over Birmingham in a City Section Division I quarterfinal game.

Garcia struck out seven, walked none and continued to turn skeptics into believers with a mound presence rarely seen from a 16-year-old who had never thrown a pitch at the varsity level until this season.

"The swag he has is different," San Fernando shortstop Isaac Dominguez said. "The way he carries himself — he's a warrior. He throws it in there and tells the batter, 'You hit it, I'm not going down without a fight.' There's not another Alonzo Garcia out there."

Teams keep trying to figure out a way to rattle the 6-foot-3 Garcia, who's a straight-A student, but so far, he has been unshakable.

"It's a trip," San Fernando Coach Armando Gomez said. "He's so even-keeled. When I yell at him — and I think it's been twice — the kids love it. They go, 'Alonzo's in trouble.' They start laughing."

The game started Thursday with the umpires forcing Garcia to change his shirt because one of his sleeves was two inches longer than the other, an apparent violation of equipment rules.

Did he get upset?

"It just pumped me up," he said.

In the second inning, Birmingham put runners on second and third with one out in a scoreless game. The pressure was rising. All Garcia did was strike out the next two batters, the last coming on a 3-and-2 count.

In the third, Birmingham got a runner to third base with two out. Garcia ended the threat with a ground ball back to the pitcher's box.

Birmingham had few chances to score, and after San Fernando (28-5) pushed across unearned runs in the third and fifth innings against Daniel Rivas, the game was basically over.

Garcia followed the script he has been working on since opening day.

"I just try to hit my spots," he said. "We have the best defense."

San Fernando didn't make an error for the second consecutive playoff game. The Tigers have eight starters back from last season's City championship team. The big question was pitching, and so far, Garcia and No. 2 pitcher Kevin Martinez have thrown consecutive shutouts.

The Tigers set up a semifinal rematch next Wednesday against Chatsworth at USC, except unlike last season, when San Fernando won, 8-6, at Dodger Stadium, this game will be for a trip to Dodger Stadium. Chatsworth defeated Taft, 11-1, on Thursday.

Garcia never left the bench in last year's final. He was a freshman promoted from JVs to watch, listen and learn.

"It pushed me to work hard," Garcia said. "I wanted to be in that situation."

Now, if only someone can figure out what makes him so calm.

"During intrasquad games, we're always trying to get into his head, but he never bites," third baseman William Vazquez said.

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