High School Roundup : Castle Park Pitcher Beltran Feels Right at Home
Home-style pitching is what Castle Park’s Juan Beltran specializes in. He serves it up hot and fast and, in a home environment, it seems to taste even better.
In a Metro Conference baseball game Tuesday, Beltran delivered a career-high 12 strikeouts, including six in a row, to help second-ranked Castle Park beat visiting Bonita Vista, 3-1.
“No one in the county has beaten him,” Bonita Vista Coach Ron Pietla said. “There’s been only one team who’s beat him all year.”
Beltran (6-1) lost to Valley High of Las Vegas, Nev., winner of five of Nevada’s past seven state championships and one of the top 10 teams in the country.
“I’d like to see him pitch against them again,” Castle Park Coach Bob Korzep said. “His arm was sore and he gave up four runs in the first inning until we pulled him.”
No way would Korzep pull Beltran the way he was pitching against the Barons.
With Castle Park leading, 3-0, in the seventh inning, Beltran was two outs away from a shutout.
All the sudden, he got a bit antsy.
“I was trying to overpower them too much,” Beltran said. “And I was getting nervous. I just wanted to get it over.”
With one out, Beltran walked back-to-back batters. A passed ball moved John Solomon to third and Mike Barnett to second. When catcher Jackie Sosa tried for the out at third, Solomon scored on the errant throw to third baseman Benji Gil.
It was the only blight in what was otherwise a banner day for the Trojans.
“We were outstanding in the field,” Korzep said, “we only had that one error. We were intense, aggressive, we made no mental mistakes.”
Well, maybe only one.
With a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning, Joe Carrillo singled. Beltran hit a long drive to center. As Beltran rounded the bases, he stopped at third and discovered he had company. Carrillo had stopped one base short of the plate.
“Carrillo misread it and Juan was running with his head down,” Korzep said, laughing. “It was just a mental error on their part.”
Beltran was tagged out and Carrillo scored on Hector Mejia’s sacrifice fly to center.
Castle Park (19-2-1, 5-0) opened its scoring in the second inning when Beltran singled to left, advanced on a Mejia’s hit-and-run single, took third when Sergio Hicks flied to right and scored on Chris Morris’ infield single.
In the sixth inning, Beltran (who was one for two with two runs scored) walked, advanced on an error, stole third and scored on catcher Chris Costello’s throw to first on a dropped third strike.
“We’re on an up cycle right now,” Korzep said. “We’re pitching well, we’re hitting much better than I thought we would and our defense is playing real well. We’re winning and having some fun.”