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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW-La Mirada’s Calvo shakes off first inning to throw complete game shutout for his fifth straight win

APRIL 4, 2024

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on X

SANTA ANA-The first pitch that La Mirada High senior Walker Calvo threw against Rancho Bernardo High in the bottom of the first inning this past Tuesday in the 12th Annual Boras Baseball Classic went for a single in which Nathan Bembenek deposited into the right field gap. The 6’3” righty then served up a two-out single to Josh Hartman.

After that, Calvo was in cruise mode until the sixth inning, retiring 13 of the next 14 batters he faced before finishing with a complete game, four-hit shutout as the Matadores blanked the Broncos 4-0. Calvo improved to 5-1, lowered his earned run average to 1.29 and leads the team with 31 strikeouts.

“We’re spoiled a little bit because he kind of turns in those performances a lot,” said La Mirada head coach Jimmy Zurn. “Obviously, he has the ability to make big pitches when needed. He’s our ace for a reason and that was a spotlight game for us; a big game to get this tournament going. Just an outstanding performance.”

“It’s kind of a mindset thing; I always have a warrior mentality in a sense, and I was like, ‘okay cool, not bad, two runners on’,” said Calvo. “I got out of that and from that point on, I learned from that…and I just thought I would be more aggressive.”

Brady Strachan popped up to Calvo to end the inning and in the next inning, Calvo walked Hudson Bradvica with one out. After that, the Broncos would be stymied until Bemenek tripled to the left field corner to begin the sixth. Two straight strikeouts and a flyout to left field would end that threat. Then with one out in the seventh, Matthew Zacarias singled and was forced out at second as Bradvica reached on a fielder’s choice. But Owen Glick would be the recipient of Calvo’s fourth strikeout to end the game.

“Honestly, today was just a good day,” said Calvo. “I wasn’t feeling too hot at the beginning of it. I thought I was going to be around 85 [pitches], which I probably was. But it ended up being pretty good. My approach when I got on the mound was my fastball wasn’t going to be super intimidating today. We started off with the heavy changeup, then we kind of motioned over to more of a heavy slider, which turned into more of a slurve towards the end of the game.”

It also didn’t hurt that Calvo got some outstanding defense behind him. With one out in the fifth, Glick sent a line drive to freshman second baseman Bear Calvo that was snared out of thin air. Three pitches later, Hugo Gonzalez hit a bullet to junior third baseman Maverek Russell whose long throw to sophomore first baseman Jacob Oropeza barely got Gonzalez. Calvo finished the game having thrown 95 pitches but threw a first-pitch strike to half of the 26 batters he faced.

“With him having the ability to throw any pitch he wants at any count, that comes…even at a 1-0 count, he can go changeup or slider,” said Zurn. “Obviously, first pitch strikes are great; we chart it. We like it to be a little bit better, but obviously he gave us the performance we need to get this thing going.”

Offensively, the Matadores got just six hits, two each from senior designated hitter Sebastian DeAvila and junior right fielder Kevin Jeon and one each from junior shortstop Aiden Aguayo and junior center fielder Travis Friend. But it was La Mirada’s ability to go small and get some help from Rancho Bernardo’s defense.

Freshman second baseman Bear Calvo reached on an error to lead off the top of the second inning, was sacrificed by Oropeza and scored on a double from DeAvila. In the next inning with two outs and Jeon on second, Friend reached on an error which allowed Jeon to make it 2-0. Then in the fourth inning, DeAvila singled to the left field gap and sophomore catcher Justin Torres was safe on an error off an attempted sacrifice bunt. Senior left fielder Tyler Primanto was safe on a fielder’s choice to load the bases and a pair of sacrifice flyouts from Russell and Aguayo would complete the scoring.

“Sure, we always love a big blast or a double in the gap,” said Zurn. “But we’re going to have to play that [small ball] game. We practice it a lot, and it’s nice to see the kids execute what we practice. It’s just the ability; we can run really, really well and the ability to make teams have to hurry, you saw what happens when you put pressure on them.”

This was the seventh time the Matadores have whitewashed an opponent and in 16 games, the pitching staff has yielded 58 hits. This was the ninth straight game in which La Mirada pitchers have allowed less than five hits.

“I think I’ve said it from day one, we’ve always, always have taken pride in our pitching and defense,” said Zurn. “We’ve given up 27 runs in 16 games. We’re giving up less than two runs a game and when you pitch and you play defense the way we can, you’re going to have a shot in every game. You’re going to have a chance.”

La Mirada, ranked eighth in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 poll, would lose to Mater Dei High 3-2 in 11 innings late this past Wednesday night and squared off against Maranatha High on Apr. 4. The game with Mater Dei ended around 9:45 p.m. and featured a combined 15 hits and nine errors. The Monarchs tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning and again in the bottom of the 10th inning. The final game of the Boras Classic is Friday, then the Matadores will begin a home and home series with Norwalk High on Tuesday on the road with the second game on Thursday at La Mirada’s home away from home, John Glenn High.

In other baseball action, Artesia High (6-7 overall, 2-2 in the 605 League, begins a home and home series with Oxford Academy on Tuesday while Cerritos High, which boasts an overall record of 13-3 and 4-0 in the 605 League, defeated San Marino High 14-6 last Friday. The Dons, ranked 10th in Division 4, host Sage Hill High on Friday, then go to Whitney High on Tuesday in the front end of a home and home series against the last place Wildcats. In between, Cerritos will also visit Costa Mesa High on Wednesday.

Gahr High remained undefeated in the Gateway League with a 3-1 win at Warren High last Wednesday. The Gladiators (10-5, 5-0) defeated Covina High 7-3 this past Tuesday in the first round of the National Classic, then rallied for a 4-3 victory over Santa Margarita High this past Wednesday. After two more games in the tournament, Gahr heads back into league action on Tuesday with a home and home series at Downey High with the second game on Thursday at Gahr.

Surprising John Glenn (9-6, 2-2) will have a dozen scheduled games until Apr. 25 and will host Pioneer High on Tuesday before going to South Gate High on Thursday while Norwalk has not played since Mar. 26 when the Lancers blanked Maywood CES 3-0, improving to 3-10 overall. The Lancers head into their weekly series with La Mirada winless in six league contests.

Valley Christian High slammed Heritage Christian High 22-9 this past Tuesday to improve to 7-7 overall and 3-2 in the Olympic League. The teams will play each other Friday and Saturday at V.C. before the Defenders visit Village Christian High on Tuesday.


With three weeks left in the regular season, here’s a look at where the eight area teams stand as all but one are in great shape to make the playoffs with four vying for their respective league championship.

Artesia (8-7-1, 3-2 in the 605 League, third place)-Tuesday @ Whitney, Apr. 12 vs. Pioneer, Apr. 16 @ Oxford Academy, Apr. 19 @ Glenn, Apr. 24 vs. Whitney.

Cerritos (10-1, 5-0 in the 605 League, first place)-Monday @ Western High, Tuesday @ Pioneer, Apr. 12 vs. Glenn, Apr. 16 @ Whitney, Apr. 19 @ Oxford Academy, Apr. 23 vs. Pioneer, Apr. 25 @ St. Joseph High.

Gahr (10-9, 2-1 in the Gateway League, second place)-Tuesday vs. Warren, Apr. 16 vs. Mayfair High, Apr. 18 @ La Mirada, Apr. 23 vs. Downey, Apr. 25 @ Warren. The Gladiators could also make up two games of the Michelle Carew Classic that were rained out last Saturday.

Glenn (2-9, 0-4 in the 605 League, sixth place)-Tuesday @ Oxford Academy, Thursday vs. Whitney, Apr. 12 @ Cerritos, Apr. 16 @ Pioneer, Apr. 19 vs. Artesia, Apr. 23 vs. Oxford Academy.

La Mirada (15-4-2, 4-0 in the Gateway League, first place)-Thursday @ Downey, Apr. 16 @ Warren, Apr. 18 vs. Gahr, Apr. 23 @ Mayfair, Apr. 27 vs. Norco High.

Norwalk (13-6, 3-1 in the Mid-Cities League, second place)-Tuesday vs. Dominguez High, Thursday @ Lynwood High, Apr. 16 vs. Firebaugh High, Apr. 18 vs. Paramount High, Apr. 23 @ Bellflower High, Apr. 25 @ Dominguez.

Valley Christian (11-3, 3-0 in the Olympic League, tied for first place)-Tuesday @ Whittier Christian High, Thursday @ Maranatha High, Apr. 18 @ Village Christian, Apr. 19 vs. St. Joseph High, Apr. 22 vs. Heritage Christian, Apr. 24 vs. Whittier Christian.

Whitney (8-5, 1-3 in the 605 League, fifth place)-Tuesday vs. Artesia, Thursday @ Glenn, Apr. 12 vs. Oxford Academy, Apr. 15 @ Buena Park High, Apr. 16 vs. Cerritos, Apr. 18 @ Pioneer, Apr. 22 vs. Long Beach Cabrillo High, Apr. 23 @ Artesia.