As some of you know I graduated from Alhambra (2001) and some of the coaches I’ve covered in my four-year tenure here at the Star-News also at some point were my teachers, most notably Joe Petralia (former boys basketball coach) who was my history teacher. Moors baseball coach Steve Gewecke taught a lot of my friends, but I never had him. Eleven years later, I asked Gewecke what it is he looks for when watching a pitcher warming up in the bullpen. I listened intently:
“If I see a kid warm up you see arm angle, does the fastball run and what kind of curve ball is it. A 12-6 curveball is something that breaks down, your old-fashion drop ball. An over the top guy would easily have a 12-6 curve. But if it’s a 2-8 that’s a slurve, a half-slider and half-curve. A slurve looks like a lollipop curve; has a big break. Basically when they throw a slurve they want you to hit it but they want you to hit it in the air. You throw it with no count or at 1-0 and you want the guy to get himself out with a pop up. I don’t know what kind of break we’ll see (today), but supposedly he throws a lot of them.”
Carter vs. Alhambra at Moor Field, 3:15 p.m.
Keppel at Elsinore, 3:15 p.m.
Mary Star of the Sea at Gabrielino, 3:15 p.m.
Maranatha at Citrus Valley, 3:15 p.m.
Alhambra coach Steve Gewecke left around lunch time on Wednesday and headed for the desert to catch a CIF-Southern Section wild-card playoff game. He made the 160-mile trek to and from Paloma Valley, which played host to Carter.
Gewecke saw plenty and came back with a lot of useful information after Carter came away with an 8-5 victory. The Lions will play Alhambra (20-3) in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs today at 3:15 p.m. at Moor Field.
Here’s what information is readily available: Carter (18-8) is the fourth-place team out of the San Andreas League, won by Colton with a 12-2 record. The Lions possess some size on the mound. Whatever information one needs after that can only be done through scouting, which is exactly what Gewecke did Wednesday afternoon.
Carter got off to a strong start with four runs in the first inning, thanks to two hit batters and one walk. In that short time, Gewecke was able to make his assessment.
“Carter kind of took the game to Paloma Valley and put some of the pressure on them,” Gewecke said. “Carter really tries to push the envelope in terms of putting pressure on the defense, drag, push, squeeze successfully.”
In short, Carter resembles Alhambra, which is making its 12th consecutive playoff appearance in Gewecke’s 16 seasons at the helm.
Carter’s size on the mound is evident. The Lions started 6-foot-6 junior Richard Brotzman against Paloma Valley.
He recorded his sixth win of the season in 12 appearances and went the distance. Gewecke was hoping to catch a glimpse of who the Moors will face today, and that would be 6-2 junior Mark Alvarez.
Gewecke said Brotzman was teetering in the seventh, prompting Carter to send Alvarez to the bullpen. Brotzman held it together to record the complete game, and though Alvarez never entered the game Gewecke wanted to catch Alvarez in the bullpen, but to no avail.
A storage container made it nearly impossible to watch Alvarez, so all Gewecke can go on is what he gathered from Paloma Valley coach Chuck Kemp. Arcadia also faced Carter earlier this year in the Rancho Cucamonga tournament, but the Apaches also faced Brotzman in that game. Kemp told Gewecke that Alvarez has a pretty good curveball, good breaking ball, but not an overpowering fastball.
If not for that storage container, Gewecke could have evaluated Alvarez and known what to expect today.
“If I see a kid warm up you see arm angle, does the fastball run and what kind of curve ball is it,” Gewecke said. “A 12-6 curveball is something that breaks down, your old-fashion drop ball. An over the top guy would easily have a 12-6 curve. But if it’s a 2-8 that’s a slurve, a half-slider and half-curve. A slurve looks like a lollipop curve; has a big break.
“Basically when they throw a slurve they want you to hit it but they want you to hit it in the air. You throw it with no count or at 1-0 and you want the guy to get himself out with a pop up. I don’t know what kind of break we’ll see (today), but supposedly he throws a lot of them.”
And as far as height on the mound goes, it’s an advantage, too.
“I think it does (help) because if they use their height the ball comes out of the hand with more tilt,” Gewecke explained. “It’s harder to hit a ball that’s thrown on a downward tilt than a ball that’s flatter.”