View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


Hart's two towers

Posted: May 20, 2008 11:25 a.m.
Updated: July 21, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Hart High School pitchers Michael Montgomery, left, and Trevor Bauer have set the tone for the Indians during the regular season and now into the playoffs. The Indians have lost only once when either man is on the mound, southpaw Montgomery is 8-1 while right-hander Bauer is an amazing 11-0 on the year.

View More »
If you look back at the last two deep playoff runs for Hart baseball, the reason for much of the success has been the team's pitching.

In 1999, Hart had a dominant pair of pitchers in Jamie Shields and Justin Wiley that led the Indians to the CIF-Southern Section Division II title.

Five years later, less dominant but consistently effective Tyler Fick and Steve Sanchez led the Indians to the semifinals.

Much of Hart's hopes this year for that title run rest on the shoulders of what head coach Jim Ozella calls pitchers 1A and 1B.

Hard-throwing left-handed senior Michael Montgomery and hard-throwing junior right-hander Trevor Bauer have been dominant for the Indians this year and make Hart one of the more formidable teams in the Division I bracket.

Montgomery is 8-1 with a 1.24 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings.

Bauer, more of an unknown coming into the season, is 11-0 with a 0.88 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 63 2/3 innings.

"These two are talented and driven to be successful," Ozella says. "You've got other guys trying to get outs. We have guys who are out there trying to strike you out."

It's not necessarily Montgomery's mindset when he goes out to the mound as much as it is Bauer's.

Bauer is driven by the fact that he lost his first-ever start - a 7-0 loss to Valencia April 27, 2007.

Since then, he has no blemishes.

"It's probably gotten a little out of hand. I do want to strike out everybody. I'd love to pitch a no-hitter every time," Bauer admits. "I want to win."

Montgomery seconds the winning sentiment, and he's been one of the best at it in the program's history.

He burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 2006, going 7-3 with a 2.38 ERA.

But he got complacent as a junior.

"Last year was pretty much a disappointment. Then again, it might have been a good thing. You need to fail before you do better," Montgomery says. "It's not just going to come easy for me."

Ozella recalls Montgomery saying last year that he thought after his stellar sophomore year, his junior year would be easy.

Yet Montgomery won less (4-3) and gave up more runs (3.46 ERA).

Ozella says Montgomery immediately turned the page in the summer.

He let go of the past.

Now the 6-foot-5 lanky lefty is consistently hitting the low 90s on the radar gun and has baffled batters with a strong array of off-speed stuff.

Ozella says his curve ball is special because he can show different variations of it - something in the dirt, something that back-doors a batter - but it's his changeup that will help him climb the ladder.

When talking about Hart pitchers and changeups, Shields comes to mind.

The Tampa Bay Ray hurler's change has been consistently tabbed one of Major League Baseball's best.

Shields, one of Montgomery's idols, had an opportunity to speak to him in the fall.

Their conversation touched on a number of issues, including distractions.

Montgomery is committed to college baseball powerhouse Cal State Fullerton, but there has been talk that he could be selected early in the June Major League Baseball Draft.

Ozella says he's even had 17 scouts come to watch the pitcher at practice.

Bauer is dealing with similar distractions.

Also armed with strong off-speed stuff and a fastball regularly clocked in the low 90s, Bauer has been flooded with questionnaires and letters from universities.

In fact, he's so ahead on his high school education, he could graduate in December and attend college in the spring 2009 semester, which would end his high school baseball career.

Add these to AP classes, the prom and the general anxious feeling of ending the school year and the Hart pair has a number of mental roadblocks in the way.

"For the most part, both guys have done a great job of that," Ozella says about dealing with distractions.

Montgomery puts it this way: "The approach I've taken all year is I don't want to pitch for (the scouts). I have to pitch to make my team win."

Bauer says playing baseball is the best way to deal with outside issues.

He says he doesn't go to dances or participate in extracurricular activity.

His focus is on getting to the next level and helping his team win.

Thus far, the pair has helped Hart win the most league games (14) of any team in the Division I playoffs.

The Indians had eight shutouts in league play and have allowed one run in the last four games.

To make things even tougher for the Indians' competition, Hart still has other quality arms.

Senior Casey McCarthy is headed to Cal-Poly Pomona, and Tyler Eyrich is going to Occidental.

Ozella notes that pitcher Ben Nicewicz is holding batters to a .083 batting average.

"It's been difficult," Ozella says of finding mound time for all his pitchers, "but they all know what's in front of them. They have two special guys in front of them."

And those two special guys have helped bring the Indians to the second round of the Division I playoffs.

Both, obviously, say they want to win a CIF title.

In order to do that, as history shows, a team must consistently pitch well.

The last three Division I champions have surrendered less than three runs per game in their runs through the playoffs.

We'll see what Hart can do.


Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.

Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...