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On opening day for LAUSD baseball, Anthony Joya of Banning looks the part of ace

All-City pitcher Anthony Joya of Banning struck out 10 in four shutout innings on Wednesday against Hamilton.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

The first official baseball game played by two Los Angeles Unified School District schools since March of last year brought out Supt. Austin Beutner to Hamilton High on Wednesday. Wearing a Dodgers mask, Beutner threw out the first pitch.

“Somebody told me it was 92 mph,” he said jokingly.

Little did he know that All-City pitcher Anthony Joya of Banning would top him with a real 93-mph fastball. Joya, a Cal State Fullerton signee who gained 15 pounds to reach 235 pounds after a lifting program during the pandemic, struck out 10 in four shutout innings and looked every bit like he deserves the reputation as the best pitcher in the City Section. Banning won 7-3.

“I just wanted to locate pitchers rather than throw hard,” Joya said.

Hamilton starting pitcher Jacob Posner used a marker to write on his white mask, “I have a game today.” Posner struck out seven in five innings with one walk. Banning scored five runs in the seventh after being down 3-2.

Everyone was pumped to finally get the chance to play a real game.

“It’s awesome to play with these guys again,” Joya said.

Said Hamilton coach Nick Winne, “It’s been trials and tribulations to get where we are today in terms of logistics. We tried to stay positive.”

It was almost a normal afternoon at an LAUSD campus. Girls’ volleyball players were practicing on outside nets. The boys’ soccer team was practicing on the blacktop. The football team was on the football field. The basketball team was working out. Everything was happening outside with athletes wearing masks. Some 13,000 athletes in the district are undergoing required weekly testing to participate.

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Beutner, who gave his approval to resume high school sports, said, “To me, this is the real opening day.”

He said for future sporting events, two parents will be allowed to watch games for each participant.

As for indoor sports, Beutner said, “The indoors is a different set of constraints.” He said some may need to be conducted outside or with creative thinking.

As for the future, Beutner said, “Summer will be better and fall will be even better.”


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