Tiger Baseball Seeking First League ‘W’ as Team Progresses

The So Pas High School baseball team is on the verge of taking home its first league win since 2017. Coach says the team is playing better each game. Photos by Hongtan Chen

The South Pasadena High School boys varsity baseball team is still looking for its first league victory after losing to co-cellar dweller San Marino (SM), 12-3.

And they lost again to Monrovia, 2-0, and La Cañada the following Friday, 10-2.

So Pas now has the dubious distinction of being alone at the bottom of the Rio Hondo League standings at 0-6.

However, head varsity coach Jaime Garcia is defiantly optimistic that the team is on the cusp of winning their first league game since 2017. In fact, he’s confident they are just a few plays, a few ground balls, or a single or two away from that illusive first league “W.”

“I think we’re right there,” Garcia said after the tough loss to Monrovia, 2-0. “We are close to getting our first win but as long as we keep battling and keep playing the way we came out and played today, I think it’s going to happen.”

So PAS High School Athletic Director (AD) Greg Luna, who is being removed from his AD position at the end of the school year, said Rio Hondo is a tough league with upper division teams, while the Tigers are a Division 6 team.

“It’s a very tough league,” Luna said after the Monrovia loss. “La Cañada, Temple City, the others are in stronger divisions than we are.” La Cañada is in Division 3; TC, Div.4; San Marino, Div. 4, and Monrovia is in Division 3.

Garcia’s optimism, however, pointed to a new-found aggressiveness of his ball players as the reason they are going to soon grab a win.

“We are more aggressive at the plate,” he said. “Sometimes a little too aggressive but you know we want them to be more selective at the plate but I think at the same time, we also ask them to be aggressive.”

And Garcia touted the defense as a stand-out in the Monrovia contest.

“We played great defensively,” he said. “We had one error in the field but that I think defensively we are right there.”

Garcia is not only convinced that his winless team is going to win a league game this year but that victory will be the beginning of a winning streak.

“I believe it’s going to happen this year,” he said. “We’re actually going to get more than one, like two, maybe even three. It’s going to happen.”

And the Tigers were eyeing a win against SM, as they were also winless, and So Pas came out of the gate fast. The Tigers scored the first two runs of the game in the first inning.

They held the lead until the third inning when SM scored on a three-run homerun over the centerfield fence.

Entering the top half of the third, Tiger starting pitcher, senior Noah Parker, was working on a shut-out until the inning started with a single, a double and then Tommy Long, a Titan senior, whacked a three-run homer over the centerfield fence and they were off and running.

Ironically, because of the height of the outfield fence at Tiger stadium, homers are an unusual occurrence. The last recorded homerun was hit two years go by Kevin Park, South Pasadena High School (SPHS) class of 2017, according to Greg Luna, So Pas High athletic director.  The outfield fence stands between 15-20 feet tall and is about 315 feet down the line.

The outfield slopes downhill at the diamond’s edges and years ago outfielders stood on the downslope so from home plate, you saw outfielders from about their ankles up.

Then against Monrovia, the Tigers held them to just two runs over seven innings and anticipation was high that they could overcome that deficit. Alas, they could not as Monrovia held the Tigers scoreless.

Meanwhile, the Tigers are leaning to accept progress not perfection. They are not looking just at the first league win, first-year head coach Jaime Garcia says. They are looking at progress in the fundamentals of the game as well as having fun.

Garcia said the team is getting better and will improve as the season moves forward.

“Our enthusiasm and effort put forth by all players whether freshman, junior varsity or varsity, the goal of the program is to teach and promote an aggressive style of play,” Garcia said in an earlier interview. “Overall, we believe to have a successful  season, we must play together, play for each other and play all seven innings of each game.”

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