If Jack Flaherty of Studio City Harvard-Westlake High is the best pitcher in Southern California, then sophomore pitcher Josh Garcia of Chatsworth isn't too bad himself based on how well he competed Tuesday in a semifinal game of the Easton tournament at O'Malley Family Field.
In some ways, Garcia out-pitched Flaherty, but in the end, it was Flaherty's ability to make effective pitches in difficult situations that enabled Harvard-Westlake to prevail, 1-0.
Harvard-Westlake (4-0) will play West Ranch (4-0) in Wednesday's 7 p.m. final at Lake Balboa Birmingham. West Ranch defeated Newbury Park, 2-1, behind Jake Bird's eight strikeouts.
Flaherty struck out nine, walked two and gave up four hits. Going back to last season, when he was 13-0 and Harvard-Westlake won the Southern Section Division 1 championship, Flaherty has a streak of 29 scoreless innings.
"He can make pitches when it matters," Harvard-Westlake Coach Matt LaCour said.
Garcia struck out six, walked three and gave up two hits. The only run came in the first inning when Brian Ginsberg scored from third base on a throw in the dirt to second base following a steal attempt.
"He pitched well enough to win," Chatsworth Coach Curtis Scott said. "He pitched his tail off. He was able to get multiple pitches over for strikes. We just didn't get the key hit."
Flaherty, one of the Southland's top pro prospects, said he didn't have his best stuff despite striking out the first three batters in the first inning.
"When you get in tough situations, it's about being tough," he said. "I executed pitches when I had to."
The performance of Garcia gives Chatsworth (3-1) lots of hope for the future. The Chancellors, playing their first season since 1990 without coach Tom Meusborn, showed good defense and hitters that made good contact at times against Flaherty. They certainly appear ready to challenge San Fernando and Banning for the City Section championship.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times