By Ray Hamill — The hard work is paying off for James Garcia in more ways than one.
After a sensational spring for College of the Redwoods baseball, sophomore James Garcia announced earlier this week that he will be taking his talents to Central Methodist University, an NAIA school in Missouri.
Garcia, a two-time all-conference selection at CR, is the latest in a long line of recent Corsairs moving on to play at four-year schools after graduation.
And he did it the hard way after getting rejected by one of CR’s biggest rivals before landing on the Eureka campus.
“It’s just another success story for College of the Redwoods,” CR baseball head coach Brad Morgan said. “Here’s a guy who gets overlooked elsewhere and comes out here and succeeds, and now he’s getting all his school paid for at a four-year school.”
Garcia, a Lake Elinsore native whose family moved to Crescent City after he graduated high school, had a tryout at Butte College, but failed to make the Roadrunners’ team.
He then reached out to Morgan, and Butte’s loss turned out to be the Corsairs’ gain.
“It worked out well for us,” Morgan said.
A Golden Valley Conference first-team selection both as a freshman and a sophomore, this past spring Garcia was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise disappointing 6-30 campaign for CR.
And he contributed on the mound, at the plate and in the outfield.
In addition to claiming half of the team’s wins on the hill, Garcia had an ERA of 4.35, best among CR’s most used pitchers, as well as an impressive 9.38 strikeouts per nine innings, far better than any of his teammates.
On top of that, he batted .361, fourth best in the entire conference, and had team-highs in doubles (10) and triples (two).
“He kind of did it all for us this year,” Morgan said. “He turned into a force on the mound and had a lot of quality outings for us.”
That versatility was what attracted the Central Methodist coaches, who reached out to Garcia.
“They get kind of a two-for-one special,” Morgan said.
It hasn’t been easy for Garcia, who took a couple of years away from baseball after graduating high school and has had to work hard to get to where he is today.
“He’s a great guy, and he’s definitely mature,” the CR head coach said of the 22-year-old who plans on majoring in criminal justice. “He’s not only been taking 16 or 18 credits a semester, but he’s also been playing baseball and working 20 or 30 hours a week.”
Garcia, who was heavily recruited “by some pretty good schools,” his coach said, will be joining a quality Eagles team, which was an impressive 35-15 this past season.
“They’re a 30-plus win program every year,” Morgan said.
In Missouri, Garcia will be reunited with former Corsairs pitcher Dylan Campbell, who graduated CR last year and is coming off a big debut season at Mount Mercy University, one of the Eagles’ conference rivals.