East/South Xtra: Serra's Girman completes high school years with great numbers
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Alain Girman had the kind of high school baseball career usually reserved for the fertile minds of novelists.
What this Serra Catholic High School left-hander accomplished in four years with the Eagles, however, did not pop out of a writer's keyboard. His triumphs occurred on the baseball fields of Western Pennsylvania and helped lift Serra to WPIAL Class A baseball championships in 2009 and 2010 and a PIAA Class A title a year ago.
College programs took notice of the 31-2 career record Girman compiled with the Eagles and an overall earned run average of 1.18.
Baseball coaches from Penn State, Kent State, North Carolina State, East Carolina, Liberty and Stanford all showed interest. Girman was most impressed with the educational opportunities at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Md., and he signed a letter of intent last November that came with a four-year scholarship with the Mountaineers, a member of the NCAA Division I's Northeast Conference
No one will miss him more than Brian Dzurenda, who has coached at Serra for 15 years, the past 13 as head coach.
"He's far and away the best pitcher I've ever coached," Dzurenda said. "His fastball tops out at 92 [mph], his changeup comes in at 80, and his curveball is at 75. What's different about Alain is that he can throw all three for strikes. Most high school pitchers can't."
Girman was a perfect 24-0 in his first three seasons as a Serra pitcher and was well on his way to reprising an unbeaten mark in his senior year.
"The two games he lost were in a 24-hour period," Dzurenda said. "He lost to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in a save situation in the bottom of the seventh where he had control problems and walked in the winning run [in a 7-6 loss]. The next day, he lost to Chartiers-Houston in another regular-season game."
Most of time, however, when this 5-foot-91/2, 165-pound senior from Monroeville was on the mound, he was extremely effective with a 7-2 record, a 2.30 earned run average and a region-leading 92 strikeouts.
Finishing the regular season in a second-place tie with OLSH and Chartiers-Houston -- all with 8-4 records in Section 2-A -- the Eagles had no trouble routing Carmichaels, 11-1, in a WPIAL Class A first-round playoff game.
Girman threw three innings against the Mighty Mikes, and both he and Dzurenda believed he had enough to get back on the mound the next day against OLSH. The Eagles had split their two meetings during the regular season.
"He gave us six innings, and he gave us everything he had," Dzurenda said of Girman's effort in a 6-5 nine-inning loss to the Chargers. "Unfortunately, this was not one of our better-hitting teams, and we ended up stranding 16 runners in a nine-inning game. I'm not belittling what OLSH did because they deserve a lot of credit. But lack of hitting was our downfall."
Girman still has a tough time talking about the loss that ended his high school career.
"To win baseball games, you have to make routine plays, not give teams extra outs and not leave a lot of people on base," he said. "You can't leave players on base because if you do, you won't win games.
"I came out after six innings, and we played three more innings. In those innings, we left six guys on base. We ended up giving up a run on an error [in the ninth inning], and we were done."
Although not having the prototypical size that Major League Baseball seems to look for nowadays, Girman hopes to play professionally some day, but he wants first to compete for a college team on which he could make an immediate impact.
He believes he has found that with the Mountaineers, who finished the 2012 season with an overall record of 14-40 and fell to last in the NEC with a 7-25 mark.
"It's a small, Catholic Division I school, and I'm coming from a small, Catholic school," he said. "I wanted to go somewhere where I could make an impact as a pitcher. I want to be able to prove I can pitch at a higher level."
Girman plans to study business and marketing, and Mount St. Mary's will give him that opportunity.
"I never thought that when I walked into Serra as a freshman I'd have the opportunity to pitch in college. I'm grateful to Serra and coach Dzurenda, and I'm grateful to my dad [Mark Girman] for spending as much money as he did on pitching lessons."
He hopes to hold college memories as fond as the ones with which he leaves Serra, including the 2011 PIAA championship the Eagles won after falling to Chartiers-Houston, 9-3, in the WPIAL Class A baseball semifinals.
After that loss, the Eagles won five in a row, culminating with a 4-0 victory against Reading Central Catholic in the PIAA Class A championship game. In that game, Girman struck out 13 while allowing just three hits.
"[Winning the state title] was my favorite moment," he said. "The two WPIAL titles were great, but [the state championship] was better."
"He's far and away the best pitcher I've ever coached."
--Brian Dzurenda, Serra baseball coach, on pitcher Alain Girman
The numbers on Alain Girman
First Published May 24, 2012 12:00 am