Freshman Julius Truitt comes through to help send Birmingham to Dodger Stadium

Julius Truitt, a 15-year-old freshman at Birmingham High, spent the baseball season on junior varsity even though the word was out how good a player he might be after hitting .406 with four triples while playing shortstop.

Birmingham coach Matt Mowry didn't hesitate to use Truitt as a pinch-hitter in the second inning of Tuesday's City Section Open Division semifinal against Carson.

"He's an amazing player," Mowry said. "He doesn't get scared in those situations."

Truitt delivered a two-run triple, then scored when a hidden-ball trick went awry, and Birmingham went on to secure a 3-0 win behind pitchers Allen Olmos and Michael Figueroa to earn a trip to Saturday's 1 p.m. championship game at Dodger Stadium against Bell, a 1-0 winner over Granada Hills.

"He said, 'Just be ready,'" Truitt said of his pregame talk with Mowry. "It's very exciting, especially being a freshman with all these juniors and seniors."

Two years ago, Mowry pulled off the same strategy in the semifinals against El Camino Real when sophomore JB Dalumpines, up from junior varsity, hit an RBI triple in a 2-1 victory. It was Truitt's first hit in varsity baseball.

Birmingham is the defending City champion and will be seeking its sixth City title under Mowry. Incredibly, the Patriots have never won a West Valley League title in his 18 years as coach. They lost their last three regular-season games, but as usual, they've come through in the playoffs and will now have their ace, Figueroa, ready to throw.

He threw two shutout innings of relief in support of Olmos, who struck out five, walked two and gave up seven hits in five innings.

Birmingham's defense was key to the victory. Second baseman Cris Martinez assisted on all three plays in the seventh and added another assist in the sixth to leave the Colts frustrated.

"I gave him a hug, 'You did your job,'" Olmos said of Martinez.

Sergio Padilla pitched well in defeat, striking out four, while teammate Noah Gomez had a single and double.

Birmingham's Nick Penaranda walked three times.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.