HIS SURNAME is pretty close to
, and that was what he experienced.
Yes, it's probably not much of a stretch to call Nate Coronado, a 6-2, 185-pound senior at Thomas Edison High, the King of First-Time Starting Pitchers.
Matt Fischer, Edison's rookie coach, figured Coronado, normally a star shortstop, had thrown no more than five innings all year. But when the Owls took the field yesterday, near 33rd and Diamond in Fairmount Park, for a Public League quarterfinal against No. 1 seed Julia Masterman, there was Coronado, standing on the rubber.
Zzzzzzzip! Did anyone see that pitch? Or at least hear it?
Using a fluid, effortless motion to routinely reach 85 mph on a radar gun brandished by a college coach, Coronado allowed one hit and one walk in five innings, and blew away 10, and Edison wound up coasting, 9-0.
In doing so, the Owls left behind the embarrassment of an 0-20 all-time record in quarterfinals. They're 0-4 in semis (dating back to an era when only four teams qualified for postseason play). Their opponent in this year's semis, Tuesday at South Philly's Ashburn Field (approximately 4:30), will be George Washington, an 11-4 winner over Esperanza (charter) Academy. The first game will feature Frankford vs. Central at 1:30 p.m.
Masterman's lone safety came in the first inning as cleanup hitter David Ashbridge sent a hard, groundball single to center. There were no almost-No. 2s until the seventh, and, by that time, Coronado's brother, Nelson, also a senior but younger by a year, was on the mound for his second inning of work. Ashbridge flied out to reasonably deep left, and Jack Christmas smacked a hard comebacker, which Nelson Coronado easily turned into the final out.
His two frames were hitless, so the brothers combined for a one-hitter.
Fischer said that Nate Coronado had routinely done off-day bullpens during the season, and that his arm strength had obviously been impressive. But he was also a top-notch shortstop and it wasn't as if the Owls, 10-1 atop Division B, needed him to pitch.
Staff ace Johnny Pagan pitched Monday in a Class AAAA qualifier and could have returned for this one. Fischer nixed that idea and pondered whether to use Nate or Nelson.
"It just seemed Nate was more interested in doing it," Fischer said. "All day yesterday and today, he kept saying, 'I wanna pitch . . . I wanna pitch.' "
Phew, now we know why.
The Coronados, who played for Northeast in 2010 and now live near 2nd and Allegheny, arrived from the Dominican Republic roughly 18 months ago. Surely, over there Nate is in some kind of youth baseball pitching hall of fame.
"I never pitched in the Dominican Republic," he said, speaking in Spanish to translator/assistant coach Pete Torres. "They like you to concentrate on one position, and, for me, that was always shortstop. That's what I like the best. I love the hitting part of baseball. That's my passion.
"But I do what I'm asked. It didn't bother me to pitch. I only did it one time at Northeast, then a little this year before today. I wasn't nervous. I've been playing since I was very little, so I'm never nervous on a baseball field. It's part of me. Until you do something, you can't be sure how it'll turn out. It did surprise me, though, to get them out like that.
Shock No. 2: watching Nelson, who hit lefthanded in the first and righthanded thereafter, absolutely crush a two-run homer to center in the fourth. The field has no fence. Nelson had to run it out. He's not the fastest guy ever, but he was stepping on second base as Ashbridge picked up the ball.
"I had fun watching that!" Nate gushed. "I never saw my brother get an inside-the-park home run. That's the first of his life with his feet!"
Nelson Coronado said he batted lefthanded in the first because Fischer wanted him to bunt. He switched later, he added, because he feels more comfortable righthanded.
Oddly, rightfielder Martin Nolasco hit righthanded early, then switched to lefthanded and delivered a two-run single in the sixth.
"I have more strength on that side," he said.
Honestly, Masterman was a shell of its usual shelf. Because of injuries and a previously scheduled family trip for starting second baseman Augie Legido, the Blue Dragons dressed only nine players. And one of those, rightfielder Malcolm Carrington, was making his first appearance of the season because of shoulder miseries. The Pub/District 12 Class A champs committed nine errors, which led to seven unearned runs; Edison had two miscues.
Controversy about Edison's program swirled in recent days when rival coaches discovered two returning starters had been awarded extra seasons of eligibility by a D-12 committee, despite allegedly having turned 19 before July 1 of last summer. Numerous sources said one of the players is already 20 and the other is almost that age.
D-12 chairman Robert Coleman confirmed the players were granted extra years, but would not discuss specifics of their situations.
"I don't think the kids should suffer because of whatever reasons forced them to fall behind in school," Fischer said. "It's not like they've been playing varsity baseball for 6 years."
Nate Coronado added an RBI single to his pitching exploits, while Nelson had a single aside from his homer. Pagan tripled deep to center, Nolasco went 2-for-4 with two RBI and Miguel Delgado stroked an RBI single.
Edison dropped from Division A to B after the use of an ineligible player last season caused 10 forfeits and a switch in its record from 6-10 to 0-16.
Now, largely because of Nate Coronado's right arm, the Owls are headed to their first semifinal since 1980. Maybe someone needs to bronze that thing. *