Rummel’s Giancarlo Arencibia Dominates Mound with No-Hit Magic: A Pitching Powerhouse on the Rise

By Mike Strom // Contributor

Pitching by seasons at Rummel

2022: (5-3) 55.0 IP, 43 H, 23 R, 15 ER, 88 K, 14 BB, 1.80 ERA

2023: (7-1) 59.2 IP, 36 H, 21 R, 17 ER, 83 K, 28 BB, 1.70 ERA

2024: (4-1) 28.0 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 49 K, 8 BB, 0.75 ERA

A pattern is emerging for Rummel pitcher Giancarlo Arencibia, the kind of pattern that brings a smile to the face of his coach, Frank Cazeaux, and a chill to the bats of opposing hitters.

Consider that in Arencibia’s last nine starts spanning the past two seasons, the Raiders’ ace right-hander has tossed three no-hit efforts plus a perfect game that taken collectively have factored mightily into Rummel’s rise back among the state’s baseball elite.

What began with a 5-0, no-hit victory against Ben Franklin in the opening round of the 2023 Division I Select state playoffs spawned a run that included a 10-0, five-inning perfect game versus Captain Shreve in Shreveport in the regional second round of the postseason one week later which helped propel Rummel  to the LHSAA state tournament.

It was in the state tournament where the 13th-seeded Raiders defeated reigning state champion and top seed Catholic of Baton Rouge, 8-2, in the semifinals, again behind some lights-out pitching by Arencibia in which he fanned 10, walked 4 and allowed 3 hits over 6 2/3 innings. Minus Arencibia on the mound in the finals, the Raiders absorbed a 1-0 loss against fellow Catholic League rival Jesuit to fall one victory short of winning the Metairie school’s first state crown in nearly three decades.

This season the buffed-up, 6-foot-2, 190-pound Arencibia, a Tulane signee, has picked up where he left off in posting a 4-1 record over 28 innings in which he’s allowed only 10 hits and 3 earned runs while striking out 49, walking 8 and compiling an ERA of 0.75.

His lone loss was a 3-0 decision against St. Thomas of Houston in Houston three weeks ago in which he struck out 11 and walked none while pitching a complete-game, four-hitter against a program that ended 2023 as Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) Division I state runner-ups.

Arencibia’s most recent no-hit gems were an 8-0, no-hit District 9-5A victory against John Curtis on March 12 that he followed one week later with five no-hit, shutout innings in a 5-2 district victory against St. Augustine. In the latter decision, LHSAA pitch count rules prevented Arencibia from completing the full seven innings.

“There have been some great pitchers come through Rummel High School,’’ Cazeaux, Rummel’s veteran coach, said. “You’ve had guys from here go pitch in the Big Leagues and he’s right up there with those guys. I’ve called pitches for a lot of them. I’ll give G the ball any day of the week.’’

Arencibia’s next start is scheduled for Tuesday, March 26, against Jesuit at Mike Miley Stadium in Metairie when the Raiders complete a two-game series against the club that ended their 2023 season in heart-breaking fashion.

“Last year was devastating to go out like that, but we’ve put that behind us,’’ said Arencibia, who pitched and played third base then before returning to second base this season. “We’ve learned from it. I feel like this year that we’re headed in the right direction and we’re going to be better than last year. Knowing how last year was, not really going through a full playoff run like that (before) and going to Sulphur (for the state tournament), we know what’s expected of us. We know who the teams are that we possibly could play.

“As a team we have a good plan and a good mindset going into those (type) games and this year more than past years I feel like we’ve played more as a team.  . . .  We’re playing unselfish baseball instead of looking for the hero moment.’’

The Raiders, 12-5 overall, currently sit atop the Catholic League District 9-5A standings with a 3-0 record, one game ahead of Brother Martin (12-5 overall, 1-0 in 9-5A) and Holy Cross (7-7, 2-1) and one and a half games ahead of Jesuit (12-6, 1-1) and John Curtis (14-4, 2-2).

Rummel is scheduled to open the Jesuit series at 11 a.m. Saturday at Miley while Brother Martin does likewise against Curtis at 3 p.m. at Miley and St. Augustine plays Karr at 11 a.m. at Wesley Barrow Stadium.

The Raiders return five of eight position players from last year’s state finalists and a senior-laden pitching staff headed by Arencibia and left-hander Ryan Claverie and right-hander Avery Williams. Shortstop Mikey Ryan, a LSU signee, third baseman Gavin Nix and outfielders Ruben Ramirez and Evan Burg have paced the offensive attack.

Nix is batting .333 with two homers, two doubles, a triple and 25 RBI. Ramirez is batting .400 with a homer, three doubles, 8 RBI, 15 stolen bases and 23 runs scored from the leadoff spot. Day is batting .342 with 9 RBI, two doubles, a triple and 12 walks and Burg is hitting .321 with six doubles and 10 RBI.

“With this team we have a good chemistry together. That’s important,’’ Arencibia said. “Baseball is a team sport won by individual battles. But if a team doesn’t have good chemistry, it’s not baseball. It’s so very important.’’

Handing the ball to Arencibia at least once a week has proven equally consequential.

Buoyed by a full command of four different fastballs that have been clocked as fast as 94 miles-per-hour, a solid breaking pitch and a changeup, Arencibia interestingly avoids singling any one pitch as his go-to or out pitch.

“I enjoy all of my pitches,’’ said Arencibia. “I love throwing all of them and I love throwing them in different counts and to different batters. It’s enjoyable when you get to know which pitch is going to work in which spot and you see it pan out directly.’’

As for a fav, Arencibia said, “That’s a really hard question because I trust all of my pitches. I trust all of my pitches in any count, even if I have a 3-2 count, I’ll throw a curve ball there. I trust all of them and I feel like I can land them when I want to and when I need to.’’

“I’m big believer when G pitches that we’re going to throw the fastball until (opposing batters) hit it,’’ Cazeaux said. “Because a lot of them are late (in their swings). We’ll move the ball inside. We’ll move it outside. We’ll move it high. We’ll move it low.

“He’s got an outstanding breaking ball. He’s spent a lot of time working on his change-up. So there’s many pitches that he has in his arsenal that he can throw. I think he’s just a complete pitcher. He holds (base) runners on as well. He knows the game extremely well.

“He’s an experienced guy. Nothing is going to faze him. He’s a hell of an athlete. He probably could be a really good football player if he wanted to. But he’s got a golden arm.’’

“I did used to disagree with the whole fastball thing, but I’ve adjusted to it,’’ Arencibia said. “I throw four different fastballs. I just think of each batter and I’ll throw either a sinker or cutter, four-seam or two-seam.’’

“I leave that (which fastball) up to him,’’ Cazeaux said. “All I do is say fastball. I’m giving him the input and he’s making the decision on what he wants to throw. That’s all on him.’’

In regards to Arencibia being unhittable at times, Cazeaux said, “He’s got good stuff and he’s around the plate. I try to explain to all of our pitchers that you don’t always have to try to throw strikes. If you’re around the plate, (hitters) are going to chase it. They’re anxious. That’s something that makes G real effective.’’

“You’ve got to throw stuff that (batters) want to (try to) hit,’’ Arencibia said.

As a four-year varsity starter, Arencibia’s rise to staff ace began in a freshman season in which he displayed enough mettle to serve as the Raiders closer. He moved into the starting rotation and position lineup as a sophomore when he also played second base that he followed with a move to third base as a junior and a return to second base as a senior.

Dedicated training and diet since last summer has helped Arencibia add approximately 30 pounds in strength, mass and muscle to what was a wispy 6-foot-2, 160-pound frame. He also already had decided to give up football where he played wide receiver through his junior season.

The son of Dr. Luis and Olga Arencibia, who pridefully speaks of his Cuban heritage, Giancarlo is a Tulane signee who committed to Coach Jay Uhlman’s Green Wave in the summer of 2022 leading up to his junior year. Arencibia chose the Wave over offers from Southern Mississippi, Southeastern Louisiana and UNO.

Arencibia grew up as an admirer of New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and wears jersey No. 16 in tribute to the late Miami Marlins pitching phenom Jose Fernandez, a Cuban-born National League All-Star right-hander, who died in a tragic 2016 boating accident at the tender age of 24.

Arencibia also has baseball lineage as his mother’s uncle, Camilo Pascual, was a Cuban-born Major League pitcher and five-time All-Star selection, who played 18 seasons in the majors and still holds the Major League record for opening day strikeouts with 15. Pascual served as an early source of information and inspiration about the game and how it should be played.

Giancarlo’s attention now though is focused on finishing his prep career with a Catholic League championship and state crown. Rummel’s last of 12 district titles was in 2006 while the last of five prep state titles was in 1997.

More no-hitters would be nice, but more so because of the potential positive impact they could play in the Raiders’ championship fortunes.

“It’s not really something that I’ve thought about it,’’ Arencibia said of pitching no-hitters. “for me, it’s more about all of the work that I do before the season. It helps early on because I’m not playing catch-up. I’m already ahead. I feel confident with everything I’m throwing.’’

Which leads to positive thoughts on game day.

“I don’t ever go into a game thinking that I’m going to work (from) behind here or I’ve got to catch up to these guys,’’ Arencibia said. “I always come into a game thinking that I’m better than (the opposition) and I’m going to win this game no matter what.’’

This season’s no-hitter against Curtis did carry special meaning because, unlike the preceding no-hitter and perfect game in last year’s playoffs, his father and mother were present to witness the feat.

“I’m big on family,’’ Giancarlo said. “When I threw the no-hitter against Curtis, that was the best (feeling) because my parents weren’t able to come to the first two when I threw the no-hitter and the perfect game. So it was a little emotional for my parents being able to see that one. There were a lot of big hugs and tears after that one.’’

In that no-hitter versus Curtis, Arencibia was unaware he was tossing a no-no until the sixth inning. A week later against St. Augustine, Arencibia did not stress having to exit after five innings due to pitch count limitations.

“Obviously, when you’re throwing a no-hitter and you’re aware of it, you want to finish the game,’’ Giancarlo said. “But you always do what’s right and step back and realize what the game situation is and not be selfish. And always be aware. It’s just unselfish baseball, that’s how I like to think.

“And I think that’s how anybody should play. But even if I (had given up) a hit, I wasn’t going to get mad or anything. It wasn’t (going to be) the end of the world. I still care (more) about getting the win instead of worrying about a no-hitter or anything like that.

“I just worry about winning as a team because that’s all that any of us on this team care about at the end of the day. We’re still pulling for everybody. No matter if somebody is in your spot or if anybody is ahead of you, you’re still pulling for that guy no matter what.’’

“I think this team has a chance to be very, very good,’’ Cazeaux said. “My only concern is that we don’t stay focused all of the time. I’ve had some teams in the past that you could tell they were ready to go. That team that won the state championship in 1997 was one of those. I believe this, too. You can be really, really good, but you’ve got to be awful damn lucky.

“This team has the same type of characteristics as that 1997 team. We don’t have as much power offensively. But we’ve got every bit of as good of pitching as them and we play solid defense. We cannot beat ourselves. We can’t do those things. They’re going to bite you.’’