A week after delivering one of the most memorable pitching performances in the 121-year history of Central Section baseball, Fresno High’s Katir Prieto returned to the mound for the first time Tuesday night at Euless Park.
It was there that he opposed Frontier in the Fresno Easter Classic and — at 5-feet-8, 158 pounds and with a mid-80s fastball, for all its movement — it wasn’t as if he made one forget about past Warriors greats such as Jim Maloney, Tom Seaver, Dick Ellsworth and Bobby Jones.
Fact is, Prieto belongs, historically.
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“He put himself on the radar with one game,” Fresno co-coach Jason Papi says.
Better, Prieto thrust himself into distinguished company with the eight-inning, 21-strikeout no-hitter in a 2-0 North Yosemite League win at McLane last week.
“At the end of the game, I didn’t know how big a deal it was,” Prieto says. “Then people started telling me, ‘Good job’ and, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen that.’ Then, later, I saw stuff blowing up all over the Internet. It was crazy.”
The strikeout total ranks third in Fresno High history for a single game, trailing only Maloney (25 in 1958 nine-inning game) and Howard Craghead (22 in 1926 11-inning game), according to section historian Bob Barnett.
Both would play in the major leagues.
Projecting Prieto there would be a stretch, but this is a 16-year-old junior who has a future in the college game, Papi says.
“As soon as it happened,” Papi says, “I started getting calls from friends of mine in the coaching circles. Cal State-Northridge. Fresno State. Fresno Pacific. They said, ‘Hey, 21 Ks, should we be on this guy?’ ”
“Immediately, I said, ‘Yes.’ I’m putting my credibility on the line, but I’ve seen a lot of games and I played in college.
“Katir is a great kid with tremendous upside. He has good stuff, that special left-handed stuff with a lot of movement; nothing goes straight. And he’s going to compete; you know you’re going to get his best stuff every game. He’s fearless, intimidated by no one, a bulldog on the mound.”
That was proven against McLane, when Prieto threw 139 pitches.
And it was repeated — even in a 5-3 loss Tuesday night — when he threw 134 pitches, striking out nine.
That’s 30 Ks in 14 2/3 innings.
That’s Maloney. That’s Seaver.
“Yeah, I know who they are, for sure,” says Prieto, raised in the Fresno High area and son of Ernie Prieto, a former standout shortstop for Roosevelt. “I didn’t think this would be talked about as much as it has been.
“It’s pretty crazy, honestly.”
Six 3-0 teams entering final day
Six teams among a Classic-record 38-school field are 3-0 entering today’s final day of the regular phase. The championship is set for 7:30 p.m. at Clovis West’s Stan Bledsoe Field.
The tournament unbeatens include only Edison and Memorial from the Central Section, and the Tigers and Panthers are seeking their first titles in the 46-year Classic.
Edison scored twice in the eighth inning at home to defeat Foothill-Pleasanton 9-7. The Tigers will remain home at 10 a.m. today to play Garces, which is 0-3 in the tournament.
Jacob Macias hit a sacrifice fly and Marcus Fitzgerald added a two-run double in a three-run Memorial eighth as the Panthers beat Chowchilla 7-4. Memorial will play Woodcreek-Roseville at 1 p.m. at Clovis East.
Other 3-0 teams are Buhach Colony-Atwater, Salinas, Franklin-Elk Grove and Oakmont-Roseville.
The teams with the best records will advance to the final and fewest runs allowed is the first tie-breaker.
That’s a moot point for Salinas and Franklin, who will be prohibited by their sections from playing a fifth game in the tournament because of total contact (maximum games allowed in a season) policies.
Entering today, Oakmont is the frontrunner with four runs allowed. Memorial has given up seven, Buhach Colony nine and Edison 10.