As tempting as it might seem to try to get past the semifinals without using your No. 1 pitcher in order to save him for Dodger Stadium, don’t look for any coach to do that on Wednesday or Thursday at USC in the City Section semifinals. You first must make it to Dodger Stadium, and saving someone could end up being an embarrassing decision.
Take the case of Sun Valley Poly. The Parrots aren’t playing games. They are going with ace Elias Galaviz on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Open Division semifinal against two-time defending champion Birmingham. They’ll wait for Saturday to come up with a plan if they make it to final. But no team has been able to eliminate Birmingham in the playoffs for three years. Galaviz will try to be the vampire slayer. He’s 8-2 with an 0.41 ERA.
Birmingham still hasn’t decided who will start on the mound but coach Matt Mowry promises to make everyone available. The Patriots have had pitching struggles since co-player of the year Albert Garcia was pulled from the rotation. Freshman Chris Romero, senior Alex Ballesteros and junior Gavino Rosales have been filling in. The Patriots have used their experience in playing under pressure to thrive in this year’s playoffs.
Because the game will be played at night, the Patriots may have an advantage in that their field has lights, so they can practice under game conditions. Poly officials said the team will practice once at an “undisclosed location” to get the feel of playing at night.
The other Open Division semifinal, on Thursday at 4 p.m., has No. 2-seeded El Camino Real playing No. 3-seeded Palisades. ECR plans to use Adam Christopher, the No. 2 pitcher. Palisades has available Lucas Braun, who threw 6 2/3 shutout innings against Granada Hills.
On Wednesday, the Division I semifinals will take place. Narbonne will play Bell at 4 p.m., followed by Marshall taking on Banning at 7 p.m.
Marshall will likely have to face the best sophomore pitcher in the City Section in Banning left-hander Anthony Joya, who has 122 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings.
The winners advance to Saturday’s finals at Dodger Stadium. Division I will take place at 10 a.m., followed by the Open Division final at 1 p.m.