Bonita’s Justin Garza looks looks more like a freshman than a junior, generously listed at 5-10, 150 pounds. But I wanted to know about the 3-0 start and 0.37 ERA that people kept raving about on the blog. And I wanted to know how he would respond going against Kenny Mathews, the savvy senior from Diamond Bar who Bonita coach John Knott called, “a once in a decade type pitcher.” Well how’s this for a confidence builder, Garza went the distance against Mathews, pitching a complete game 2-1 victory. He almost had a shutout, giving up his lone run in the seventh. But then he showed his toughness, getting a ground-out to end the game with the tying run on second. Mathews wasn’t a sharp as he normally is. He continually got behind in counts, gave up seven hits and struck out just three, but he was still in the game. Diamond Bar committed four errors, but it was the play that got away that cost them. Mathews’ pick-off attempt with two outs in the fourth inning beat Bonita’s Mark Lindsay back to first, but the ball was dropped. That new life allowed Conor Vislay to answer with a double that scored Lindsay, followed by Thomas Castro’s single that scored Vislay. It wasn’t much, but thanks to Garza, it was enough. It also makes you wonder, whenever towering 6-8 Adam McCreery gets the green light, they’ll have 1 and 1A. That’s scary with the offense they already have.
By Fred J. Robledo
FRIDAY’S HACIENDA PREVIEW: Diamond Bar high school baseball coach Eric Shibley is not concerned with the Brahmas’ slow start after being pegged this newspapers pre-season top choice. After all, the “real” season is just beginning.
Diamond Bar lost four straight in the same week during a recent trip to the Loara tournament — but three were one-run losses in low-scoring games, prompting Shibley to point to the big picture. (To continue click thread)
“Numbers don’t lie, obviously we started slowly, but we’re pleased with our defense and pitching,” Shibley said. “Tournaments are tournaments. You want to win every time you step on the field, but tournaments aren’t Hacienda League games and they’re not CIF playoff games. Ultimately, those are the games we need to win and be prepared for.”
Diamond Bar boasts one of the top pitchers in California, left-hander Kenny Mathews, who already is committed to Cal State Fullerton, though with his Major League Draft stock continuing to rise, it could lead to a tough decision for Mathews later in the year.
But Mathews is just part of the equation.
Henry Omana, a 6-foot-3 junior, has a fastball that touches the 90s, giving the Brahmas a valuable number two pitcher.
However, with some tenderness in his throwing arm, Shibley preferred to rest Omana, sending him out for his first start against Diamond Ranch on Tuesday.
Omana answered the call, throwing four solid innings and allowing just one hit in a 6-1 Diamond Bar victory that helped the Brahmas improve to 4-4 and 2-0 in the Hacienda League.
“We wanted to give him (Omana) rest (during tournament season) just to get him sharp,” Shibley said. “He wasn’t injured, it was just cautionary, plus we got a chance to see a lot of other guys pitch.”
Teams only face each other twice a year in the Hacienda League and there are no back-to-back games against the same opponents.
This is a luxury for Diamond Bar, who can pick and choose who to throw Mathews against.
By throwing Omana earlier in the week, Diamond Bar will send Mathews out Friday at home against Bonita (5-2), who many expect will contend for the league title with the Brahmas.
Bonita won the Miramonte League last year and advanced to the Division 3 title game. The Bearcats have nearly everyone back, so Shibley knows Friday’s game at 3:30 p.m., is definitely one that will have league title implications, even though they’re just in the second week of the league season.
“Bonita is as good as anyone around here, and they’ve got an experienced senior-oriented team,” Shibley said. “Our issue is going to be scoring runs. We know that (Mathews and Omana) are going to keep us in games, but we need to score to make things easier on them.
Mathews (2-1, 1.05 ERA) already has 26 strikeouts in 20 innings, and whenever he pitches, you can expect a group of scouts behind home plate with radar guns.
“He’s a once-in-a-decade type pitcher,” Bonita coach John Knott said of Mathews. “He outdueled Glendora (and pitcher Adam Plutko) in a game at home last year and Glendora went on to win a CIF title.
“I don’t think our guys are going to be intimidated, but we know we’re going up against a kid who has had a lot of success. You have to chip away and have competitive at-bats against him to have a competitive chance.”
Bonita normally would counter with 6-foot-8 senior pitcher Adam McCreery, who already has committed to Arizona State and has scouts drooling over him because of his size and potential.
But McCreery hasn’t pitched for the Bearcats this season, who hope to get him back for a late-season stretch run.
McCreery has been dealing with tenderness in his throwing elbow, but Knott says doctors have found nothing structurally wrong with him.
“He’s (McCreery) possibly a first-round (Major League draft) prospect,” Knott said. “His stock has soared. Just five months some (publication) named him one of the top 15 high school prospects in the country.
“With him we’re obviously a much more complete team, but we have to be cautious. With most high school players you can push them along because this is as good as it gets. But with (McCreery) he has a bright future and we have to be cautious.”