The 24-player all-star team made up of top high school baseball players from the Los Angeles City Section won the GEICO City Series on ESPNU on Thursday, defeating Chicago 6-2 at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Over four days, the City Section relied on strong pitching, strong defense and timely hitting to go 4-0 against public school all-star teams from Chicago, Miami and New York.
“The tournament was a great experience,” said tournament MVP Daniel Martinez, a center fielder who will be a senior at San Fernando. He had a two-run double Thursday and finished with four hits in three games. “We were out here making the routine plays, not trying to overdo it and staying cool.”
No one was cooler than relief pitcher Enrique Espinoza, who was celebrating his 17th birthday. The Sylmar senior entered the game in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and none out and Los Angeles clinging to a 3-1 lead. He got an inning-ending double play, holding Chicago to one run in the inning. He threw scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh.
“It was really cool how he performed,” Martinez said. “He made the key pitches.”
Said Espinoza: “I wasn’t nervous at all. I was hyped to help my teammates.”
City Section baseball has been dominated by San Fernando Valley teams and players from the West Valley League for decades, but this all-star team featured big efforts from players from unsung areas.
The Valley Mission League had major contributors among players from San Fernando, Granada Hills Kennedy and Sylmar.
“We showed San Fernando has talent, Kennedy has talent, Sylmar has talent,” Martinez said. “It’s cool to open up eyes for the Valley Mission League.”
The Marine League was well represented by players from Narbonne, Banning and San Pedro. Shortstop Josh Duarte from San Pedro show off nearly flawless fielding.
Anthony Joya of Banning, a junior left-hander, struck out eight in four innings and was chosen as the top pitcher in the tournament. “I was ready to go,” he said. “It was fun and hot.”
Matt Mowry, who has guided Birmingham to three consecutive City Section Open Division titles, was head coach and put players in the right positions to succeed.
“It means a lot representing the City,” Espinoza said.