By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
TEMPLE CITY – Calvin Copping was dominant on the mound for the Temple City High School baseball team, so it’s not like he needed any help from visiting Alhambra.
But the Moors helped out anyway by virtue of 12 walks and two errors as Copping put the finishing touches on a no-hitter in the Rams’ 6-0 victory Thursday afternoon in the finals of the Arcadia Elks Tournament.
Copping threw 94 pitches (58 strikes) and struck out nine while giving up just three walks for the Rams (3-0-1). If there was a tournament MVP, surely Copping was worthy of the honor. He pitched four shutout innings against Montebello in the tourney opener and then hit a game-winning, two-run home run against San Dimas to lead the Rams into the final.
To top off his big week, he handed Alhambra (3-1) its first no-hit game in the 17 years coach Steve Gewecke has been at the helm.
“He hit his fastball and his curve ball,” Temple City coach Barry Bacon said. “He located very, very well. I thought he had a dominating performance. He’s just really good.”
Alhambra (3-1) fell apart almost from the start and the Moors needed four pitchers to get through the afternoon.
Gary Acuna walked seven batters and threw 83 pitches (45 balls) in 2 2/3 innings pitched. Andres Garcia, Jesus Lopez and Juan Crespo also saw time on the mound, but a five-run third inning by the Rams all but sealed the inevitable.
“We did it to ourselves,” Alhambra coach Gewecke said.
“If we’re going to walk 12 guys and make two errors we’re not going to win games.”
But miscues happen in every game. What seemed to really bother Gewecke was the uninspired effort.
“We don’t play with enough passion,” Gewecke said. “It can’t start in the seventh inning. When you go down six early it’s not like we can drag and push. We don’t have guys that can knock the ball out of the park and get us back in the game.”
Alhambra was aggressive at the plate, but not when it mattered most, which only further complicated things for the Moors.
“We didn’t have enough grind-it-out at bats,” Gewecke said. “We didn’t make (Copping) work. We’re aggressive on sliders, on low and away pitches early in the count. We weren’t aggressive on challenge fastballs. That’s when you need to be aggressive but we didn’t try anything against this guy.
“We didn’t get ahead on the count, we can’t mix, we can’t locate and we don’t make plays to help us get out of jams.”
Temple City’s Jonah Jarrard drove in what proved to be the winning run in the first inning when he singled up the middle to score Kyle Starling, who drew a four-pitch walk.
In the third inning, Jarrard drew a walk on a full count and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Corey Copping then drew a walk on five pitches before Calvin Copping made it 2-0 on a single up the middle to score Jarrard.
Brad Guerrero, Copping’s courtesy runner, advanced to second on another wild pitch. That’s when Benji Sanderson connected on a 2-2 pitch for a base hit up the middle with the infield drawn in to make it 4-0.
“I liked the fact that with two strikes we’re putting the ball in play,” Bacon said.
“That’s just quality baseball. That’s what we need out of Sanderson, and that’s what broke this game open.”
Ben Arrue drew a walk before he and Sanderson advanced a base on another wild pitch.
Arrue and Sanderson then scored on an infield error.
Alhambra had runners on the corners in the fifth inning, but Copping proved too strong despite walking Jesus Lopez to start the inning. Copping got Marco Briones to fly out on a 1-2 count before Blake Kuehle reached base on Temple City’s lone error. But a fielder’s choice got Kuehle on the force at second. That put runners on the corners, but Copping needed just four pitches to get a strikeout and end the threat.
Corey Copping made a diving catch at shortstop to rob Jonah Lybarger of a single on his first at-bat, about the only Calvin needed to keep the no-hitter intact.
“We talked about it yesterday that we wanted to take pride in the defensive side because we committed six errors against San Dimas,” Bacon said. “We wanted to put the leather on the field to see if we can play a solid defensive game, and we did.”