Falcons spoil Parisi’s debut
By Keith Lair, Staff Writer
DUARTE – It was a baseball game of new beginnings.
Duarte High School began the season Friday, just two months after the loss of coach Steve Richard. And Pasadena was beginning a new era with the return to the San Gabriel Valley of Mike Parisi.
When it was all said and done, left-hander Michael Faram had struck out 14 and the Falcons had scored a 5-1 victory in the opening game of pool play in the Arcadia Elks Tournament.
“”It was extremely tough,” Faram said. “We wanted to go out and make what happened happen for coach.”
It was an emotional game for both teams because of the circumstances. The Duarte players each had shaved “Richard” into the side of their head. Coach Kennard Kapono has been with the program for only four weeks, and Friday’s game was his first as a head coach. He had been an assistant at Kaiser, Redlands East Valley and Fontana in the Inland Empire for the previous 11 years.
“You have no idea how hard it has been,” Kapono said. “Being here for four weeks after what happened, and how they came out and played, you couldn’t ask for a better game. This is what I’ve been waiting for. It’s my first of hopefully many (wins). I couldn’t be with a greater group of kids.”
Faram said Kapono had no idea what Richard meant to the team until Tuesday.
“It was a bad deal, but he had no idea how we were feeling until Tuesday,” he said.
Said Kapono: “To have to put everything together in four weeks, and for them to come out and play against a real good team, and just the way they came out and battled … . There was a lot of emotion with their coach dying in December, which made it very difficult. They played their hearts out.”
It was also the return of Parisi, who led Arcadia to numerous Pacific League titles before leaving the Apaches three years ago. He was an assistant coach in Orange County and took last year off before returning to the Valley, replacing longtime Bulldogs coach Bob Beran.
“My comeback as a head coach, it wasn’t about a win or loss,” Parisi said. “I was very excited that I’m back in charge and have the opportunity to coach a great group of kids.
“I’m planning on being here for a long time.”
It took a while for Faram to get going in the complete-game win. The Bulldogs scored their run in the first inning off a hit and a walk, but the senior found his rhythm and gave up just five hits and a walk the rest of the way. The Bulldogs threatened only once more, putting runners on second and third with no outs in the fourth inning.
But that’s when Faram went to work. He struck out the next seven consecutive batters and retired eight consecutive until Devonte LaFlore, who went 3-for-3, singled. Of the last 13 batters he faced, he struck out nine.
“That was unbelievable,” Kapono said.
“I usually get stronger as the game goes,” Faram said.
The Falcons scored three times in the first inning, thanks to some Bulldogs misplays, but the Falcons also ran their way out of runs.
Ryan Daniels and Oscar Moreno hit back-to-back singles, with Moreno getting to second on the throw. Angel Robles hit a weak grounder to tie the game, but when shortstop LaFlore bobbled the ball on Efren Landers’ hit, Moreno scored. Spencer Stute then scored when LaFlore threw the ball away on the next grounder.
Pasadena right-hander Joseph Stephen gave up seven hits in his seven innings of work, but managed to avoid trouble when Moreno tried to turn a triple into a home run and when Robert Jones was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first on Faram’s double down the right-field line. Jones had driven in Anthony Gutierrez with a single.
“That was my fault,” Kapono said of the base-running outs. “It’s a big deal to me. I’m a very aggressive coach.”
Faram had gone to third on Kapono’s aggressiveness, practically putting two runners on the same base. He scored on Ryan Daniels’ single.
“We started three freshmen and my pitcher did great,” Parisi said. “We didn’t play defense and made too many errors. We struck out 14 times, and that’s not going to win any ballgames.”
Nathan Bernstein scored the Bulldogs’ lone run. He drew a two-out walk and got to third on a steal when the throw went into the outfield. Stephen singled him in.