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Tiger hurler posts wins as a starter and a reliever

April 09, 2002|By RICHARD MYERS

Sports Editor

Inspired by the pitching of Aaron Hartsock, Imperial High's baseball team knocked off two powerhouse clubs last week.

And with the renewed confidence from the 9-1 win over Francis Parker and the 5-4, nine-inning win over Santa Fe Christian, the Tigers are ready to make a bid for an Imperial Valley League championship.

"We're 0-2 in league right now," Hartsock said, "but after last week I really think we can compete with the other teams."

Hartsock opened on the mound against Francis Parker on Wednesday but had to leave in the fourth inning after he was hit by a pitch on his throwing hand while batting.


"It went numb," he said, showing Monday afternoon it still was swollen and somewhat discolored. "You can still see the baseball seams."

While he was unable to pitch, Hartsock stayed in the game at shortstop, making a couple plays. He ended up collecting two hits and driving in three runs. He also earned the win on the mound in his shortened stint, allowing one hit while striking out four.

The next day Hartsock came on in relief in the fifth inning, earning his second straight win when Imperial beat Santa Fe Christian on a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth.

"Coach asked me if my hand was OK," Hartsock said. He never hesitated. "I wanted to pitch."

Hartsock surrendered three hits while fanning five. He also rapped a pair of doubles and drove in a run.

"We showed San Diego schools we can compete with anybody," Hartsock said.

While he is a good fielder and solid hitter, Hartsock conceded he loves pitching best.

"I love the pressure," he said, adding, "The bigger the game the more I want to pitch."

Hartsock can't wait for Imperial's showdown April 16 against the Brawley Union High Wildcats.

"I want to pitch against them," he said. "They are the big team right now and I want them."

Baseball is the only sport in which Hartsock, 18, competes. The Imperial senior is following in the footsteps of his father Scott, who played three years for the Tigers, and his older brother Ross, who played for Imperial and is now playing for Cal Baptist University in Riverside.

"They're the ones who got me started," Hartsock said. "I've been playing baseball ever since T-ball."

Hartsock would love to play college ball. He noted his father has videotaped some of his games so he can send tape of himself to the coach at Grossmont College, where he hopes to attend next year.

"I just want to get out of the Valley," he said, when asked why he was looking to the coast for a college. "Plus it's cooler."

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