Amat’s Ace is the Big Z, Daniel Zamora, who gets the nod at Dodger Stadium on Friday

By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
When Bishop Amat High School’s baseball program graduated the pitching duo of Paul Paez and Brandon McNitt from last year’s team, there were quite a few fans who figured the Lancers might be in big trouble heading into this season. Most thought the Lancers would have to score a load of runs every time out to have a chance to win. The term Johnny Wholestaff was even bandied about in reference to how Amat would make up for the fact that it didn’t have the one or two aces that fans had grown used to over the years.
So much for that.
Thanks to starting pitcher Daniel Zamora and the cast of other arms on head coach Andy Nieto’s staff, the Lancers are on the verge of completing one of the best seasons in school history Friday against Palm Desert at Dodger Stadium in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 championship game.

“I always wanted to be on a major-league field, and this will probably be one of my only times to do this, so I’m pretty excited for it,” Zamora said.

Zamora has been Amat’s most consistent starter, going 8-1 with a 1.62 ERA. His 56 innings pitched are the most on the staff, and he’s got plenty of help from the talented arms of David Berg, Jordan McCraney, Ryan Serrato, Eddie Munoz, Jacob Dominguez and even star slugger Rio Ruiz.

Although the term Johnny Wholestaff does seem to apply, the numbers clearly say the situation isn’t as dire as some had feared. Zamora’s steady performance is a major reason for that.

“We’ve had to replace good pitching every year,” Nieto said. “Daniel has obviously taken the bull by the horns in terms of wanting to help the team. I think that every pitcher has that mentality. When their number is called, they have an obligation or responsibility to defend their team and perform.”

Zamora says his strength is his low fastball. Nieto says it’s his ability to throw strikes. The most earned runs Zamora has allowed in a game is four, and he’s been especially stingy in the postseason, allowing just two runs in 9 1/3 innings, a performance that’s earned him two wins.

“For Daniel, it’s not about velocity, it’s about strikes,” Nieto said. “If he’s throwing strikes, he’s going to make it difficult on hitters because he’s got that crazy, wiffle-ball-like movement.

“I’m not surprised by how well he’s done for us this year, because he displayed that last year. The year he’s having this year is somewhat close to the innings he threw for us last year.”

But last year, Zamora was behind Paez, who had a sub-1.00 ERA, and McNitt, who struck out a batter per inning.

No matter what happens Friday evening at Dodger Stadium, Amat fans can at least take solace in knowing that next year’s ace is already established, since Zamora is still only a junior, but before anybody looks that far ahead, winning a championship takes precedence, and that’s something Zamora is ready to help his team do.

“When coach said I was going to get the start (Friday), I was really excited,” Zamora said. “I’m actually already having trouble sleeping. I’m ready to go. It’s an honor to be able to pitch this game.”

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  • 12th man

    Good Luck Lancers!!~ Credit should also be given to the “Set up Man”(David Berg) & “Closer” (Rio Ruiz) big part of Amat’s success during the playoffs~

  • Amat Alumni and Parent

    When a team makes it to CIF finals….credit goes to the whole team and the coaching staff. Go get em Lancers!

  • Joe Amat

    the Lancers have taken care of a couple rematches with victories that were losses the first time around in Esperanza (who’s in the Division ONE finals)and Torrance. Let’s hope they have enough ion the tank to handle this rematch with Palm DESERT (not Palm SPRINGS)in the same fashion.

    Amat does have some history beating Palm Desert in a CIF Final, as they defeated the Aztecs in the 2002 Boys Basketball final (still the last SGV CIF-SS boys basketball title in any upper division, if I haven’t reminded anyone lately)

    Palm Desert also had an emotional 7th inning comeback in the semis vs Oaks Christian, scoring their only 2 runs in the top half of the inning. The team (and coach) most emotionally ready to bounce-back will take home the trophy.

    Lets hope it’s the Lancers.

  • Fairgrove Fan

    Let’s not forget Senior Ryan Serrato or Jordan Macreany(sp?) either. These kids have thrown some quality innings against quality teams this year too! What a great Baseball season you Lancers have provided me thus far this year!!! Hats off. Let’s get one more win on Friday Night and finish with a BANG! Keep it going as a Team for one more game Guys. Good Luck Friday and Go Lancers! Go Amat!

  • AMAT 73

    I think what easily can be said about our Lancer ball team is that this season has been a total team effort . The Men in Blue have all done a great job and everyone has contributed to the success so far this season. Let’s hope it continues this Friday and they bring home the championship . Good luck to the Lancers this Friday.

  • Upper division

    Att. Joe Amat
    I don’t think most people would consider D3 AA an upper Div in basketball. D1 AA yes, D2 AA probably, D3 AA more like an upper mid level.

  • Joe Amat

    Well, if something is divided into Upper & Lower – the division is in the middle. Would it have made you feel better if I wrote “Upper-Half”? Results are still the same and the statement is still true.

  • Steve Ramirez

    Except Joe Amat, that will now have an UPPER Division state boys champ – La Verne Lutheran – so the statement is mute.

  • Joe Amat

    Actually not *moot* – the statement is still true… as is yours. Amat is the last team to win a CIF-SS Championship – and that other school, that did not win the section, won a much deserved State title.

    Both are true.

  • Joe Amat

    BTW – Steve, check the MaxPreps Photo Gallery with a good photo of you and Reggie interviewing Andrew Gutierrez after the Torrance win.



  • Joe Amat

    wow. I just got some horrible related Amat news. Gotta confirm and get back

  • Joe Amat

    Former Lancer Austin Lacey has passed away after year long health struggles. God bless he and his family.

  • Trojan Man