Bryan Golnick of El Camino Real was in such a hurry pitching Wednesday in the City Section Open Division semifinals at USC’s Dedeaux Field that he looked as if he needed to make a graduation ceremony.
Coach Josh Lienhard came to the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning with an 0-and-2 count to calm him down.
Golnick got a game-ending strikeout to culminate a 4-0 victory over Cleveland that sends the Conquistadores into Saturday’s 1 p.m. championship game against Birmingham at Dodger Stadium.
Golnick, a senior, won’t be able to pitch. He threw 105 pitches, leaving him ineligible to be on the mound at Dodger Stadium. He didn’t seem too upset.
“It’s a dream to be there and sit in the dugout,” he said.
Said Lienhard: “He did fantastic.”
El Camino Real (18-14), the No. 4 seed, put No. 1-seeded Cleveland (15-14) on the defensive from the start when Amauri Thomas began the game with a bunt single. After a sacrifice, Joey Klein doubled home Thomas off pitcher Bryan Andrade. Parker Tuszynski added a run-scoring single for a 2-0 El Camino Real lead.
Andrade settled down to hold El Camino Real scoreless until the top of the seventh when Michael Bumnleve hit an RBI triple and scored on Thomas’ infield single.
Golnick kept pitching quickly, and the Cavaliers never took advantage of a couple of scoring opportunities.
Golnick got a pickoff and a key strikeout in the fourth to stop one potential rally. He finished with six strikeouts and allowed five hits while walking two even though he was dealing with flu-like symptoms earlier this week.
“That’s a good pace for me,” he said. “I throw more strikes.”
Now he’ll sit back and get to watch sophomore Adam Christopher take the mound against Birmingham on Saturday. An assistant coach was joking afterward that perhaps Golnick can make an appearance as a pinch-runner.
Asked if he’s fast on the bases, Golnick said, “Nooooooo.”
So he’ll be fine hanging out in the dugout as El Camino Real seeks a record 10th City baseball title.
Birmingham, the defending champion, defeated Chatsworth 3-2 in the second semifinal behind sophomore pitcher Albert Garcia, who threw seven innings of shutout relief.
Birmingham was facing disaster in the first inning, when starting pitcher Armando Yanez was pulled after 16 pitches, which resulted in a walk and two singles. In came Garcia, who kept Chats-worth’s lead at 2-0 after a couple of warmup pitches.
Meanwhile, the Patriots got a run in the third off Gabe Achucarro on a bunt by Garcia to score Johnny Tincher, who had a triple. They scored another run to tie it in the fourth on an RBI single by Daniel Gamboa. And then Erik Rivas, who has five hits in two playoff games, delivered an RBI single in the fifth.
Tincher, the catcher, said Garcia wasn’t even at his best.
“He wasn’t 100%,” Tincher said. “He didn’t have his best stuff. I’m proud of him. He did this on heart.”