Above: 2008 Star-News Player of the Year Noe Ramirez.
By Scott Galetti, Staff Writer
ALHAMBRA — Entering the season with a scholarship to Cal State Fullerton already in hand, Alhambra High School pitcher Noe Ramirez was able to concentrate and, more importantly, enjoy his senior year.
With the exception of a road setback that ended his hopes of winning a CIF-Southern Section Division III championship, Ramirez had plenty to enjoy.
A first-team All-LA84 Division III selection and Almont League Player of the Year, Ramirez consistently compiled win after win on the mound and was the symbol of consistency at the plate for the Almont League-champion Moors.
For his efforts, Ramirez is the 2008 Star-News baseball Player of the Year.
“I’m not sure words can explain what he’s meant to our program,” Alhambra coach Steve Gewecke said. “All the wonderful things he’s done between the lines on the diamond gets dwarfed with the type of teammate that he is. He’s been a leader by example, helping the young guys out. We’re going to miss him.”
Leadership was a responsibility Ramirez embraced from the first day of practice.
“All the guys looked up to me and coach would talk about that I just had to be a leader,” Ramirez said. “I needed to be an example for the younger guys.”
Ramirez was expected to be an impact player on the mound and didn’t disappoint, setting not only an example, but a precedent.
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound senior was 9-1 with four saves, a 1.28 earned-run average and 114 strikeouts.
“My confidence was definitely up and I felt stronger this year,” Ramirez said.
He became just the fourth player in school history to throw two no-hitters in his career in a 4-0 victory over San Gabriel on April 11. In that game, Ramirez flirted with the school record of 18 strikeouts in a game set by Dan Larson in 1971 before having to settle for 17.
At the plate, Ramirez, who led the team with 25 RBIs, etched his name in the Alhambra record book in a couple of categories.
He tied a long-standing school record, set by John Olhasso in 1933, by collecting 47 hits. His 11 doubles also matched Olhasso’s school-leading mark and his .511 batting average put him second all-time to Ralph Kiner, who hit .513 in 1940.
“We stuck him in the middle of the lineup and asked him to be the power guy and the guy who was going to drive in the runs,” Gewecke said. “I would say, especially in the playoffs, he pretty much was our offense. I think he became more of a complete hitter this year.”
Added Ramirez: “I’ve always worked on hitting and I want to hit at the next level. Coach (Chris) Cosbey is a great hitting coach and he helped me with my problems with my hands. Since then, I’ve hit well.”
Records aside, consistency described Ramirez when he was in the batter’s box. He closed the season in style by posting at least one hit in his final 12 games (10 multiple-hit games) and 20 of his last 21.
“I don’t know how common it is for your best pitcher to be your best hitter, but for a guy to go 9-1 and have an under-1 ERA and hit .511, he can just do it all,” Gewecke said. “We asked him to do it all, and that’s not easy, especially when you’re the player of the year in league the year before and already signed at Fullerton. He met the challenge.”
What Gewecke marvels most about Ramirez is his willingness to work with other players.
“The way he treats his teammates is probably what I’m going to remember most,” Gewecke said. “That’s part of his family upbringing. You’re not going to meet more of a down-to-earth kid.”
Ramirez’s final game was on the road against Poloma Valley and, although he suffered his first loss of the season (3-1), he was still as effective as ever, even on just three days’ rest, to close out his prep career in style. He allowed three runs, seven hits, two walks and struck out 10. He was also 2 for 3 with a homer and the Moors’ lone RBI.
“Being my last year and all, even though we fell short, the year was perfect for me,” Ramirez said. “I couldn’t ask for better teammates and I couldn’t ask for a better ending, except for going all the way.”