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Pitcher Kaprielian the real deal

Irvine Scene

Beckman High's ace, a junior who throws 89-90 mph, is on the fast track toward stardom.

March 26, 2011|By Joe Haakenson, Daily Pilot
(Kent Treptow / Daily…)

James Kaprielian was stumped.

Asked what seemed like a fairly innocuous question, the Beckman High pitcher could only muster an "Uhhhh …"

Finally, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound junior with an 89-mph fastball answered, "Travel ball, I think."

The question? When was the last time Kaprielian was tagged with a loss while pitching a baseball game. He went 10-0 last year as a sophomore for the Pacific Coast League champion Patriots, and is 3-0 this season, following last week's win over Woodbridge in the league opener.

What about two years ago on the freshman team?

"I don't know, we didn't lose too many games," he said. "I pitched in relief then. It might have been travel ball."

Kaprielian certainly is on the fast track. He was the Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year last year as a sophomore and is only getting better. In the league opener against Woodbridge last week, he took a perfect game into the seventh inning.

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With one out, a passed ball on a third strike allowed a batter to reach and spoiled the perfect game, and the next batter singled to break up the no-hitter. Still, Kaprielian finished with a one-hit shutout.

"It was definitely on my mind," Kaprielian said of the perfect game. "But I wasn't too upset when I lost the no-hitter. It was a big win for us, it was the start of league. I was focused on getting the win."

Beckman won league last season with a perfect mark of 15-0, and the Patriots have started league this year at 2-0 and are 7-2 overall. Kaprielian's one-hit shutout was matched by Chad Rieser's one-hit shutout over Northwood on Wednesday. Beckman plays host to Corona del Mar (8-2, 3-0 in league) Friday at 3:15 p.m.

Kaprielian said the pitching staff is a tight-knit group that runs together and supports each other. But Kaprielian has taken the lead as the staff ace.

His fastball has been clocked at 89-90 mph this season and he's getting stronger. He also throws a two-seam fastball that has some sink, a curveball and a circle change he learned from his dad.

The circle change is an advanced pitch that not many pitchers throw, even at the major league level. But Kaprielian stressed its importance to his repertoire, in order to keep hitters from sitting on his fastball.

"A regular changeup is more flat," he said. "With the circle change I release the ball with my thumb facing toward the ground, and you can see the seams spinning in a circle. There's a drop off to the inside part on right-handed batters."

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