Apaches clinch 2nd place behind Woo’s first career no-hitter
by Christian Romo
John Woo waited for the umpire’s out signal before running towards his catcher Tyus Santa Anna, who met him seconds before the rest of his team mobbed him at home plate. Teammates and fans pulled him aside in an endless series of congratulations, at one point dousing the senior pitcher with ice water during an on-camera interview with Apache News. “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang played immediately after the final out, a fitting song, considering Woo had just pitched his first no-hitter in the last league game of his high school career.
In their regular season finale, the Arcadia Apaches (16-9, 12-2 Pacific) rode Woo’s no-hitter to a 6-0 victory over their rival Crescenta Valley Falcons (25-2, 13-1 Pacific) Friday night at Giambrone Field in Arcadia. A beyond-capacity crowd stretching to the left field foul pole expected to celebrate the team’s six graduating seniors, but instead celebrated Woo’s masterful performance, the defining moment of Arcadia’s season. “Oh my God, it’s amazing dude,” Woo said, “especially against our rivals, I’m speechless.”
Matched up against CV ace Trevor Beer, Woo disoriented the Falcon’s lineup with well-placed strikes and off-speed pitches, forcing ground balls and lazy flies his defenders easily managed. “He’s been solid for us all year,” said Arcadia coach Nick Lemas. “He throws strikes, he hits his spots, he’s not overpowering. As long as he’s not walking guys, he’s gonna be okay.”
Woo, who struck out six batters in seven innings pitched, said neither he nor his team altered their game plan for the final matchup against their rivals: “We didn’t change anything, we just stick to our plan, especially against CV. Nothing too fancy, nothing too extreme.” After walking his first batter in the top of the fourth inning, Woo responded by striking out Beer and shortstop Nico Arredondo, setting down the middle of the order and firing up the Arcadia dugout, who scored their first run off an error in the bottom of the inning.
The Apache offense broke through in the fifth inning with three consecutive singles from Tim Van Kirk, Jacob Lopez, and Dominick Tello, with Woo providing his own run support with an RBI groundout to third base. Santa Anna followed Woo with a two-run single up the middle, giving the Apaches a 6-0 lead as they batted around the order, reversing the shutout CV handed them on Tuesday.
No-hitters usually require stellar defense, and Woo’s had a few key plays. Tello’s backhanded grab at third base saved a double in the third inning, while outfielders Chase Pedersen and Angel Guzman snagged hard line drives in the sixth and seventh innings respectively. “I knew I had a defense behind me. I knew I wasn’t alone, and had nothing to worry about,” said Woo.
Though Arcadia’s bats and gloves played at their best, the night belonged to the senior lefty. “I’ve been thinking about this game for a while,” said Woo, “but I didn’t expect to throw a no-hitter. That’s just how baseball works.” And though CV clinched a league title over the Apaches with a 1-0 win on Tuesday, Arcadia ended the season with a celebration of their own. “In a script that doesn’t have us winning a league championship, I would say this is the best way to end the regular season,” said Lemas. “A team like that with that record, to not only beat them, but shut them out with a no-hitter on your home field, it’s in awesome feeling.”
The Apaches will enter the CIF playoffs as one of the strongest teams in the area, and will find out Monday morning which school they will play in the first round. When asked if the win against CV would provide momentum in the playoffs, Lemas laughed: “I sure as hell hope it does!”