Cal-Hi Sports State Athlete of the Week

Pitcher Angel Acosta is a four-year varsity standout for his team. Gabrielino H.S./ESPNHS

Gabrielino’s Acosta getting accustomed to throwing no-hitters. He threw his third of the season last week and is close to tying a state record.

Batters in the Mission Valley League of Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley are sure going to be glad when Angel Acosta from Gabrielino of San Gabriel has finally graduated.

Since his days as a freshman playing on the varsity, the 5-foot-11 right-handed pitcher has been mowing down batters with regularity.

Last week, in an 8-0 victory over South El Monte, Acosta tossed a no-hitter with 10 strikeouts. It was his third no-hitter this season and fifth in his career. One more no-hitter for Acosta would give him a tie for the state record for most in a career.

For his performance last week, all season, and in a career that has seen him voted league MVP in both his sophomore and junior seasons, Acosta has been named the ESPNHS Cal-Hi Sports State Athlete of the Week.

Last month, in a 1-0 victory over El Monte Arroyo, only a two-out error on a routine play in the seventh inning kept Acosta from throwing a perfect game.

“The first-baseman dropped the throw but that didn’t faze Angel. He got his 13th strikeout the next batter for the no-hitter,” said second-year coach and Gabrielino engineering and architectural design instructor John Taylor.

Not much seems to faze Acosta. After learning he was being honored, unlike some that feel the mojo, Angel pitched Wednesday and tossed a two-hitter with 11 fanned in a 6-0 win against Rosemead.

After the Rosemead outing, Acosta now has 419 career strikeouts, a number that gets him into the top 10 all-time in the CIF Southern Section.

“Honestly, I’m just honored to be recognized and have a shot at some records,” Acosta told Cal-Hi Sports.

As quiet as it’s kept, Acosta can do more than throw an 89 mile-per-hour fastball.

In the near perfecto versus Arroyo, Angel had two hits, including a double, and scored the game’s only run. On the season, he’s batting .404 with seven doubles and 15 runs scored. He’s also stolen seven bases and only struck out four times.

Acosta’s current career batting average is hovering around the .400 mark. He also plays a mean third base and this year is playing second because Taylor needs him there to turn the double play.

My best assets are…

“I’m always there for the team, being a team leader and giving advice, or making a fix. I’m always there to help. I’ll do anything I can for the team because I’m one of those guys that doesn’t like to lose.”

“I can be one of the loudest guys on the field but when I’m pitching I’m focused on getting the job done.”

“My best pitch is my fastball but I have a pretty nasty curve.”

Coach’s comments

“We live and die by that kid,” said Taylor, who keeps an apartment locally but commutes from Fresno to coach and teach at Gabrielino.

“That’s all I heard when I got here was how good this kid was. Even as a sophomore, he had a reputation as being the dominant pitcher in the league, but people overlook his defense and hitting – and because of his success, Angel is the guy everyone looks up to on the team.”

Goals this season

“The team won league when I was a freshman and a sophomore but not winning last year brought us down a little. We’d also like to get as far as we can in the CIF (CIFSS Division 5) playoffs.”


Angel’s father, Ernesto Acosta, is a painter that grew up in Los Angeles playing soccer. His mother, Maria Acosta, works at Gabrielino.

Angel is sandwiched between two sisters. Giselle played basketball and is currently studying at Cal State Los Angeles to become a teacher. Sonia, a middle-schooler, plays basketball and does cheer.

Angel’s favorites

Team: “Atlanta Braves.”

Player: “Adrian Beltre. I always had No. 29 playing travel ball for the Chino Hills Patriots. Seeing him made me want to play third base and be like him.”

Baseball movie: “The Rookie of the Year about the little kid that breaks his arm.”

Car: “A white Range Rover with tinted windows.”

Vacation spot: “I’d like to go back to India. I went there when I was 10 and my uncle married an Indian woman.”

Future goals

Although the B and C student-athlete has been contacted by every community college in Southern California, he’s also garnered interest from a few major league area scouts.

“I would like to go to college but if someone picked me up…it’s been my dream of playing pros since I was five. I’d go to Dodger games and picture myself there.”

Advice for young boys

“Hard work but always have fun with what you’re doing. Don’t let anyone get in front of where you want to go.”

You can send AOW nominations to mark.tennis@espn.com or tweet them to us @CalHiSports. Don't forget to follow Harold Abend on Twitter: @HaroldAbend