SAN FERNANDO – Armando Gomez decided to gamble a bit in the first round of the City Section Division I baseball playoffs against Granada Hills.
The coach of the San Fernando baseball team, the reigning City Section champion, went with his No. 2 starter, Kevin Martinez, opting to save his ace, Alonzo Garcia, for the second round.
The gamble paid off as Martinez pitched a six-hit shutout and San Fernando eliminated Granada Hills, 3-0, at San Fernando High School on Tuesday.
“He’s quieted the critics now,” Gomez said. “I don’t want to get to Thursday and not have our No. 1. Kevin’s been great in big games. It didn’t bug him at all.”
Martinez struck out one and walked one. His defense turned three double plays and Martinez cruised until running into a little bit of trouble in the seventh inning.
Granada Hills had runners on first and third with one out in the top of the seventh. The potential tying run came to the plate with Martinez admittedly running out of gas. Sophomore pinch-hitter Austin Dudley hit into a double play to end the threat and the game.
“He’s our best hitter that we brought up from the JV,” Granada Hills coach Steve Thompson said. “The guy he pinch hit for has been struggling a little bit. Let’s try to give ourselves the best chance we can.”
Gomez said Martinez was at the end of his rope. Garcia was warming up in the seventh and ready to finish off the game.
“I was giving him one more hitter,” Gomez said. “If Alonzo had to get two outs in one game, he’ll bounce back. That’s his bullpen work for warming up today. I wasn’t worried about that.”
Dudley worked the count to 2-2 before hitting a grounder to third base. The San Fernando defense turned an around-the-horn double play, its third of the game, and secured the shutout for Martinez.
“We’ll take this win and then we’ll go back to work tomorrow,” Gomez said.
San Fernando took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Willie Vazquez drove in Carlos Robles with a two-out single.
Robles gave San Fernando a 2-0 lead with an RBI single in the third inning.
Isaac Dominguez capped the San Fernando scoring with an RBI single that scored Robert Berumen in the fifth inning.
“They got the timely hit and we didn’t,” Thompson said. “That was the difference in the game. They got the timely hit when it counted and we unfortunately didn’t.”
Granada Hills had its chances. The Highlanders left a runner stranded at third in the first inning. San Fernando turned double plays in the third and sixth innings to end two other Granada Hills scoring threats.
“Kevin did a really good job,” Thompson said. “I was a little surprised that Kevin pitched. I thought Alonzo would pitch because it is the first round of playoffs. But Kevin did a good job. He threw strikes and kept us off balance.”
San Fernando will play Birmingham in the quarterfinals of the City Section playoffs.
Here is a look at the other first-round results in the City Section Division I baseball playoffs:
El Camino Real 1, Marshall 0
Chatsworth 6, Bell 0
San Pedro 5, Garfield 4
Woodland Hills Taft 8, Narbonne 7
Kennedy 5, Cleveland 4
Verdugo Hills 12, Roosevelt 3
Verdugo Hills at El Camino Real
Kennedy at San Pedro
Birmingham at San Fernando
Taft at Chatsworth