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No-Hitter Establishes Diaz as Ace

Miguel Diaz remembers the day he got the call.

After starting the 1992 season on the Kennedy High junior varsity baseball team, Diaz was promoted early in the season, in time to watch a game against conference rival Chatsworth. Kennedy was blasted by the Chancellors, prompting Kennedy Coach Manny Alvarado to dole out a few extra postgame laps as punishment.

“I didn’t get to pitch that game,” Diaz quipped, “but I sure did get to run.”

Diaz soon was inserted into the rotation, where he has remained. In an opener against Monroe in the first round of the San Fernando tournament Wednesday, Diaz tossed a no-hitter in a 7-0 victory.

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Diaz (5 feet 9, 160 pounds) struck out seven and walked four. Though Diaz claims he didn’t have his best stuff, he was never in trouble. He walked the first batter, then mowed down 10 in a row.

“I was real nervous,” Diaz said. “More nervous than I’ve ever been.”

As a junior, Diaz was 6-2 with an earned-run average of 2.91. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t even supposed to contribute.

“They gave me a choice,” Diaz said. “Either be on the varsity and not pitch that much, or play for the JVs and pitch a lot. I wanted to play.”

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Before long, the side-arming right-hander emerged as the staff ace. Consequently, Alvarado handed Diaz the ball for the opener.

“What can I say?” Diaz said of the no-hitter. “It just carried over from last year.”

NORTHWEST VALLEY

BASEBALL

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Rain, rain, go Elway.

Come again another day.

The recent storms washed away what would have been one of the more memorable alumni baseball games when Granada Hills was forced to cancel its event because of inclement weather.

The school’s most celebrated alumnus, Denver Bronco quarterback John Elway, already had flown into town to participate in the game for the first time in four or five years, Coach Darryl Stroh said.

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Elway, a 1979 graduate, was a three-sport standout for the Highlanders who could have won fame as a baseball player, Stroh believes. Elway, who played right field and third base for Stroh, was drafted by the New York Yankees out of Stanford and played one summer of minor-league baseball before turning to pro football.

“He was a great baseball player,” said Stroh, who also coached Elway in football. “He had that sweet, left-handed swing and all the tools.”

Which included, of course, a big-league arm. In the 1979 City Section final against Darryl Strawberry, Chris Brown and their Crenshaw High mates, Elway was called on to pitch in the third inning. The Highlander starter was struggling, but Elway hadn’t pitched “in probably six weeks” when Stroh brought him in to throw.

“When you get in a big game, you go with the gamer,” Stroh said. “If you’re going to lose, lose with your best.”

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Elway pitched four-plus innings of relief as Granada Hills went on to win, 10-4. “We talked about (the relief outing) the other day,” Stroh said with a laugh. “He said he was afraid I might point to him.”

FOOTBALL

A City Section athletics subcommittee is considering its options with regard to football playoff games held over the four-day Thanksgiving break.

Games for the past few seasons have been played on Wednesday night, which saves the Los Angeles Unified School District money, since players and administrators already are on campus. However, it gives teams only four days to prepare for their opponent and the gate is usually small. The Principals Committee is studying whether to move the games to Friday or Saturday, or to let schools decide.

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BASKETBALL

How outmanned was Taft in its 94-54 loss to North Hollywood in the City Section 4-A boys’ basketball playoffs last week? Let Taft Coach Jim Woodard draw you a picture. “They were so much faster than us, we looked like a painting,” Woodard said.

Staff writer Steve Elling contributed to this notebook.


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