For six innings Thursday in the GMC tournament championship game, Southwest High pitcher Victor Caracoza was almost unhittable.
Caracoza, a 5-foot-8, 150-pound right-hander, had struck out 14 San Diego High batters while yielding just three hits and was working on a shutout.
He tired in the seventh (allowing two hits and hitting two batters before giving way to Armando Magallenes with one out), but give the kid a break. He is, after all, just a freshman.
He was also the tournament’s most valuable player, and Southwest was the champion after defeating San Diego, 6-4, at Santana High.
"(Caracoza) beat us with the curveball,” said Tom Lopez, San Diego’s coach. “We scored 59 runs in five games, and he shut us down.”
Said Caracoza, 14: “I was feeling pretty good. Once I knew I could get the curveball over, I came with it.”
Caracoza’s curveball was viciously effective against the Cavers, who bat predominantly right-handed. Kian Sly is their one left-hander and was the only one not to strike out.
For the season, Caracoza (2-0) has pitched 20 innings and struck out 31. With the bat, he is five for 14 with five RBIs.
At 14, he is the youngest of a young Southwest team (there are only four seniors on the 13-man roster). After finishing 2-21 in 1988, Southwest is 5-1, with its only loss to Montgomery (4-1) last Thursday.
“I keep telling the players we’re going to surprise a lot of people this year,” said Rex Whitehead, Southwest’s coach.
While San Diego drew blanks against Caracoza for 6 1/3 innings, the Raiders built a 6-0 lead with single runs in the second, third, sixth and seventh innings and two runs in the fourth.
In the bottom of the seventh, San Diego started to rally. With the bases loaded and one out, Josh Stepner singled sharply to left, driving in two runs and driving Caracoza from the mound.
Magallenes got Junior Guzman to fly to right, but Sly drove in two more with a single to right. Brian Baird, the potential tying run, then flew out to center to end the game.
San Diego fell to 4-1-1.