Panthers senior has a team-high six victories
FARMINGTON — A year ago, Piedra Vista senior Fabian Magallanes wasn't even playing baseball. And now he leads the Panthers in wins as PV aims to capture its second state title in three seasons.
By allowing only five hits and one earned run during seven innings pitched in Thursday's start against Miyamura, Magallanes picked up his sixth victory of the season, bumping up his record to 6-1. He has accounted for nearly half of the victories so far for the Panthers, whose record sits at 14-7.
As a freshman and sophomore, Magallanes played for PV's junior varsity squad before personal issues led him to quit the team early in the 2015 season. He returned to the diamond last summer and joined many of his PV teammates in playing for the Rivercats during the Connie Mack City League Tournament.
PV coach Mike McGaha said the 6-foot-2-inch right hander has come a long way in the past year.
"I think the success he's having on the mound comes from some of the attention he's paid to details in his everyday life," McGaha said. "He's eliminated some of the stress and baggage he's carried around that have kind of limited his game and taken away his focus."
Magallanes said he came back to baseball because he "missed the game."
"I called him after the season and asked him whether or not he thought he made the right decision, and he felt like he had made the wrong decision," McGaha said. "We worked on a plan to get him reintegrated into the summer, and he came in and filled in nice."
Now fully focused on baseball, Magallanes has found success by throwing first-pitch strikes, limiting walks and going as deep as possible into games. He has let in only six earned runs in his last six starts and has lowered his earned run average for the season to 1.87. The game against Miyamura was Magallanes' best in weeks, according to McGaha.
"Prior to spring break, he had a real steep tilt, and he was getting ahead in the count on hitters," McGaha said. "And then he went on a little bit of a funk where he was elevating pitches in the zone and was getting hit pretty hard. He gave up some runs he didn't normally give up, but he was still winning those games."
McGaha said he thinks Magallanes has one of the best breaking balls in the state. And by working ahead in counts he can use that breaking ball to put away hitters. That's why Magallanes said he puts such an emphasis on earning that 0-1 count.
"I've worked really hard in the off-season to throw strikes, to always throw strikes," he said. "Throwing the first pitch for a strike is always on my mind."
Magallanes has 41 innings pitched under his belt while no other PV starter has even reached 30. Part of that is because a gap between games on the schedule led to Magallanes getting the nod in back-to-back games Another part, McGaha said, can be attributed to the senior's durability and dedication to pitching.
"He hasn't outright won a fielding position or had regular at-bats for us, so he's had a lot more time to spend honing his craft," McGaha said. "We have a couple of guys, who, that's pretty much all they do for us. On the days they don't start, they're working on their pitching. I think that pays dividends when you're a pitcher who doesn't throw 90 miles an hour and can instead really focus on some other aspects (of pitching)."
Piedra Vista is currently ranked No. 2 in Class 5A behind Goddard. After being upset by Artesia in last year's state quarterfinals, the Panthers are hungry to regain the form that brought them a state championship in 2014 and three straight from 2010 to 2012.
A deep starting staff has always been part of the Panthers' winning formula, and Magallanes' emergence as one of PV's most reliable arms can go a long way in helping the team make some noise during this year's state tournament.
To keep winning down the stretch, Magallanes reiterated his primary focus: Throw strikes.
"I just gotta keep doing what I'm doing and keep throwing strikes," he said. "Just keep competing like I have been and we'll be alright."
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.
A closer look: Fabian Magallanes
1. Favorite team?
2. Favorite athlete?
3. Favorite food?
4. Favorite movie?
"Never Back Down."
5. Favorite subject in school?
6. Least favorite subject?
7. Biggest fear?
"I never really thought about it."
8. Do you play any other sports?
"No, just baseball."
9. What is the first thing you would do with $1 million?
"Buy myself a car and a nice house."
10. Do you have any pregame rituals?