By Haley Sawyer
South Pasadena Review
Ivan Becerra made South Pasadena High School’s varsity baseball team last season, but it wasn’t the year he’d hoped for. Between being a freshman and a shortened season due to concerns over COVID-19, Becerra didn’t get the opportunity to make any impact.
But this season, as a sophomore, Becerra is making up for lost time. He stepped up and cracked a two-run homer in the first inning against San Marino on Tuesday afternoon, sparking the offense as the Tigers went on to beat the host Titans, 7-0.
“I was just looking [for a] fastball, immediately,” Bacerra said. “Like, I knew the dude wasn’t throwing that hard, like I can do this like, I’m ready for it. And it just happened and it felt great, to be honest. Like, finally getting a nice hit, especially varsity, too.”
The Tigers (3-3 overall, 1-1 in Rio Hondo League) piled on the runs early at San Marino (0-5, 0-2). Barron Lutz hit an RBI double in the second inning, then South Pasadena added two more runs in the third, one of which came on an RBI single from Noah Takeda Teer. For the game, Takeda Teer wound up going 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run.
The early scoring built support for senior pitcher Nico Schroeder, who tossed six scoreless innings for the Tigers in addition to being the leadoff batter.
“It’s fantastic,” said Schroeder of playing after nearly a year off due to COVID-19. “It’s all I want. That’s all I want, is to play baseball. It’s awesome out here.”
Schroeder is one of 12 seniors on the team and was relieved by Barron Lutz, a “stud freshman,” as the team calls him. Lutz recorded three strikeouts for the Tigers.
Six games into a season of facemasks and hand sanitizer, South Pasadena is finding a rhythm. There were limited nonleague games because of pandemic precautions, and adjusting their hitting quickly became a priority for the Tigers.
“I think for them, it was just getting their timing back,” said coach Jaime Garcia. “It’s almost been a year for everybody … Last two practices, like, just focusing on hitting and letting them know that you know the adjustments that they have to make in-game, not just at practice and stuff like that, so I think that that also carried over into today’s game.”
South Pasadena’s last game of last year’s shortened season was also a win against the Titans. The Tigers’ win at San Marino’s field not only makes the return to baseball even sweeter, but it also enhances the rivalry between the two schools.
“This game is real personal on the schedule between, you know, for us, and I know for them,” Garcia said. “Last year we got our first league win here in a few years, so that was great. But this one feels even better.”