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Baseball: Pitcher Nick Hurtado dies of bone cancer at 21

March 2, 2013 |  7:09 am

Nick Hurtado, a former Corona Santiago pitching standout who offered inspiration and hope by the way he battled during his fight with bone cancer, died on Friday night. He was 21.

"Nick had the most amazing strength and the most contagious smile," his former club coach, Steve Trombly, wrote on Twitter.

It was on March 5, 2010, the opening day of the high school baseball season, when Hurtado, a 6-foot-2 left-hander who had signed with Cal State Fullerton in the fall, stood on the Santiago mound against Mater Dei and threw a single pitch to start the game in one of the most emotional moments of the 2010 high school season (video above).

It was a fastball for a strike. He was embraced by teammates and given the lineup card. He limped off the mound toward the dugout while receiving a standing ovation.

He began treatment for osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that strikes teens. He had surgery, with doctors cutting two inches off his femur and inserting a titanium plate. He underwent months of chemotherapy.

After graduation, he joined the Cal State Fullerton baseball team on scholarship and tried to return to the field while touching the hearts of everyone he met.

"Forever a Shark and Titan," Santiago Coach Ty De Trinidad wrote in a text message.

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-- Eric Sondheimer

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