EL MONTE - 4/15/11 - It was a long time in coming, but the wait was worth it.
The Rosemead High baseball team took advantage of three Arroyo High errors and exploded for six runs in the top of the second inning en route to a 9-4 road victory - the team's first of the year - on Friday in a CIF Southern Section Mission Valley League game.
Panther coach Mike Salgado said the team's weak spot all year has been hitting, but that they've been working on that.
"We hit hard," said Salgado, whose team knocked around Arroyo pitching for 12 hits. "The team hit. It's all about hitting the ball. The past two weeks we brought in special hitting instructors. It paid off."
Also helping out Rosemead (1-12 overall, 1-6 in league) was the pitching performance of Rafael Garcia. The tough luck loser all season improved his record to 1-3 with a complete game effort.
Garcia gave up four runs on 10 hits, while striking out three and walking one. His performance wasn't overpowering, as he didn't record a strike out after the third inning, but his command and location were spot on.
"I was throwing mostly my cut fastball, low and away, and switching speeds," Garcia said. "I worked a lot to keep them off balance."
Garcia was also thankful for the team's brilliant defensive efforts behind him.
"My outfield helped me a lot," said Garcia, referring to three diving catches made during the late innings. "A few of the pitches got away from me, but it all worked out."
Garcia even suffered a scare in the final inning. With one out, he got beaned on his pitching arm by a line drive up the middle. But he stayed in and got the final two outs for the complete game victory.
"He might be hurting later on tonight," Salgado said as Garcia did not appear to be injured. "This is the game he deserved. He's pitched well. His command was there."
Rosemead sent 11 batters to the plate in the second inning. After seeing the first two strike out, the Panthers got singles from second baseman Alex Rodriguez, first baseman Anthony Salinas and Garcia and a double from shortstop Paul Cruz. Before you knew it, the Panthers led the Knights, 6-0.
Taking the loss for Arroyo (8-6, 5-2) was starter David Guerrero (0-1), who is usually a relief pitcher. Guerrero pitched two inning plus, giving up seven runs on five hits, striking out three and walking one.
Cruz, who had two hits and reached on a walk and an error, was just pleased the team finally got the win.
"It feels great," he said. "Breaking that zero on their home field is great. The hitting instructor was helping us. I'm seeing the ball well. We just want to keep the momentum going and keep winning through league season. We can hang with those top teams."
"I believe we can bring this into next week (against Mountain View High)," he said. "Our defense was solid. The guys in the outfield made outstanding catches."
(Shel Segal can be reached at