There weren’t many awkward situations when Isiah Fajardo and his older brother, Andrew, showed up on campus at Highland this year.
The former Garces standouts grew up on the eastside of Bakersfield and have been long-time friends and youth baseball teammates. They were among a slew of veterans for Highland that helped the Scots win the program’s first Central Section title in 2017.
The Farjardo brothers brought in experience as well, helping Garces win the Division III title in 2018 and got to work right away seeking another D-III title for Highland.
“I knew we had a great chance (to win a title) and we just kept progressing and we stuck together as a family and brought it home,” Fajardo said.
Fajardo led Highland with a .484 batting average and according to section historian Bob Barnett, broke the section single-season record for runs scored with 57 and was lights-out on the mound with a minuscule 0.17 ERA in 41 innings pitched.
For his efforts, Isiah Farjardo is the 2019 BVarsity All-Area Baseball Player of the Year.
“He’s one of those special kind of kids,” Highland coach Mike Garza said. “His work ethic is unreal … That kid, everything is ‘Yes coach’ or ‘No coach.’ If you asked him, that kid would run through a wall without asking. His heart is huge.”
Fajardo reached base and scored in all 31 games this season, began the season with a 15-game hit-streak and had 36 stolen bases, good for third in the section this season and led the Southeast Yosemite League with 18 doubles.
“He’s one of those automatic kids,” Garza said. “Every time he got up to the plate, I knew he had a chance to get on. Then once he got on, he always had the green light to steal a base. I told him, ‘If you see it, take it.’ Then next thing I know, he’s standing next to me on third base. Then boop, he’s scoring another run.”
Fajardo is at ease playing the middle infield at shortstop or second base, but when Garza called his name to take the mound, the junior was ready for any situation.
“I just focused on hitting my corners and keeping the batters off balance,” Fajardo said.
In the D-III quarterfinals, Fajardo gave up one unearned run in seven innings in the 5-1 win over Firebaugh, then pitched two scoreless innings in relief over Nipomo in the semifinals.
His finest performance of the season came in the D-III championship game, giving up just two hits in six scoreless innings as the Scot beat Atascadero 3-0 for the second D-III title for the program in the last three seasons. Highland never played for section title in the first 46 years of the program that began in 1970.
Now, Highland returns seven starters that batted at least .365, including Fajardo and Nick Salas, who had a 4.2 GPA in the classroom and a team-high 34 RBIs.
Garza will take one more year with Fajardo leading the way knowing that his playing days won’t end at Highland.
“I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him,” Garza said. “Such a great player and teammate. Any coach would love to have him on their squad.”