First published in the Feb. 18 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
South Pasadena High School senior starting pitcher Alex Hodis tossed a complete-game gem against visiting El Monte Mountain View to help lead the Tigers to a 5-0 nonleague victory in Saturday’s season opener.
Hodis had everything working on the mound as the tall righthander threw 93 pitches (66 strikes, 27 balls) over seven innings. He had a game-high 13 strikeouts while only allowing two hits and one walk. (Mountain View’s first hit came in the third inning after Hodis retired five consecutive batters on strikes.)
Hodis jumped ahead by throwing a first-pitch strike to 17 of the 24 batters he faced.
“The slider was moving a lot; they were swinging at it in the dirt — it was just a pretty nasty pitch today,” Hodis said. “I don’t like falling behind. I feel like the at-bat really goes downhill from there, so I just wanted to get the first strike over.”
SPHS head coach Jaime Garcia contemplated giving Hodis the hook after the sixth inning when his pitch count reached 84, but he was convinced otherwise when Hodis’ teammates made a push to send him back out to the hill.
“His teammates had his back and said, ‘Hey, you know what, coach? We feel that he can finish,’” Garcia said. “Sometimes you have to go with the guys and what they think. My instinct was to get him out because recently he hadn’t thrown that many pitches, but his teammates had his back.”
Sending him back out proved to be the right call as Hodis retired the side in order on just nine pitches.
“I did not want to get taken out,” Hodis said with a smile. “I made it very clear that I wanted to finish.”
Hodis settled in behind the Tigers’ early offensive production. Junior center fielder Jason Yipp reached on a walk in the first inning, stole second base and scored on a double to deep center field off the bat of senior designated hitter Joe Kazarian to put the Tigers up 1-0.
Kazarian plated a second RBI after grounding out to Mountain View’s first baseman in the third inning.
“Big Joe is going to be a big-time bat in the lineup that pitchers are going to have to worry about,” Garcia said. “We’re glad that he got that big hit his first at-bat and we expect many more from him.”
Nolan Adams roped a single to left field and sophomore left fielder Luke Riffle reached on an error by Mountain View’s third baseman to set up a big second inning. The pair executed a double steal and Mountain View’s catcher threw the ball into left field to allow Adams to score and Riffle to advance to third. Senior second baseman DJ Pearson poked a single into shallow center field to score Riffle and made it a 3-0 game in just the second inning.
“We have many guys that as soon as they get on, we’re going to be aggressive and make teams make plays,” Garcia said.
Junior utilityman Julian Fernandez pinch ran in the sixth inning for first baseman Ben Pertrillo, who finished 1-for-2 with a walk, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Senior Lucien St. Vaughn made his lone at-bat count by driving home Fernandez from second on a routine groundout.
The Tigers (1-0) are scheduled to host Hoover High of Glendale in an early-season nonleague matchup this Saturday, Feb. 19, at 10 a.m.