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“When your ace is on, any team can beat anyone.”

“A good pitcher on an average team can beat anyone on any given day.”

Those are statements I’ve heard from baseball coaches this season.  When it comes to the high school baseball playoffs next month, the depth of a pitching staff can carry a team a long way.  However, a good starting pitcher can help avoid some sleepless nights for coaches.  Here’s a look at some of the top starting pitchers this season and what their coaches have to say about them.


Wilson Bannister, Centennial

The senior has a 6-0 record with a 1.37 ERA.  Bannister is their true #1 who can throw 86-87 mph.  He’s 6’2” and 185 pounds and has been in their rotation since his sophomore year.  “He gives our hitters a chance to win a low scoring game against anyone,” said Centennial head coach Rusty Evans.


Darius Garcia, Volcano Vista

The lefty standout has only thrown limited innings this year because of an injury.  He throws around 85-87 mph with good command.  “What makes him so difficult is that he has good movement of his fastball from the left side,” said Volcano Vista head coach Kevin Andersh.


Braden Gluth, Santa Teresa

David Braeutigam, Santa Teresa

Either one can get the start on any given day.  Gluth throws in the mid-80’s and struck out 54 batters and only gave up 11 hits in over 28 innings of work.  Braeutigam throws in the low-80’s with 41 Ks and only surrendered 12 hits.  “Gluth is very composed and Braeutigam is very focused,” said Santa Teresa head coach Jesus Bailon.  “I could start ether one of them.”


Drew Price, Goddard

He won 6 of his first seven starts with a 1.06 ERA.  He recorded 65 strikeouts in 41 innings of work.  “He can run the fastball into the high 80’s, but can also can throw any of his secondary pitches in any count making it harder for people to sit on just one pitch,” said Goddard head coach Gilbert Alvarado.


Ben Schoneman, La Cueva

The senior is 5-1 with a 0.93 ERA.  As a sophomore he posted a 10-0 record with a 1.44 ERA and last season went 8-1. “He is not overpowering, but does a good job throwing multiple pitches for strikes,” said La Cueva head coach Gerard Pineda.


Hayden Walker, St. Pius X

The junior left hander is a Pepperdine University commit.  He is 6-1 on the year and has only given up three earned runs all season.  The opposing teams have a 0.98 batting average against him.  “I describe Hayden as a complete, all-around pitcher,” said St. Pius X head coach Matt McCoy.  “He can throw any one of his 4 pitches for strikes.”


“I’ve always said that Thursday (quarterfinals) is the hardest day to win because you are facing everyone’s number one on that day,” added McCoy.  In today’s high school world of pitch counts, a dominant ace can only take you so far.  A head coach can roll the dice and try to save their big arm, but sometimes they don’t make it to the next game.  “I usually work from a thought process of you win the game you are in,” explained Pineda. “Tomorrow will usually take care of itself.”

Goddard’s Alvarado knows that if his team reaches the quarterfinals, he has a decision to make like many other head coaches.  “You need to either pitch by committee to save arms or pitch backwards to make it to the state championship game and have a chance,” he explained.  “You are walking a fine line as a coach.”

But that tightrope walk gets a little easier if you have at least one ace in the hole.

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