The game of baseball is no different than the game of life in that history has a way of repeating itself. In fact, in baseball it’s expected.
And for the Culver City High baseball team it stretched along Artesia Blvd. from Manhattan Beach two weeks ago to North High in Torrance last Wednesday, a foreboding location for their final non-league game before the 2013 Ocean League play began on Tuesday.
The Centaurs again took a one-run lead into the bottom of the sixth inning on the road and once again it proved to be their ‘Waterloo’ as North scored four runs after loading the bases with no outs for a 5-2 comeback win.
The final outcome and circumstances were eerily similar to the scenario that took place at Mira Costa High, just a few miles away due west, the only difference being a 6-3 score in that affair.
Pitching and defense were the key factors for both teams as southpaw Eli Bowie started for the Centaurs. The Saxons maneuvered an unearned run in the second inning with an error and a two-out wild pitch strikeout. The next three innings registered zeros for each side.
North pitching held Culver City at bay for most of the game. Centaur designated hitter Thomas Graham recounted, “Their pitcher had some late movement on his pitches and we didn’t adjust to what he threw at us.
“ He was living away and painting the corners. In general, he located his pitches well and we were just missing the mark on those pitches. We weren’t hitting the ball like we’re capable of hitting it.”
Bowie’s four strikeouts in four innings pitched, one inning of relief by Louis Ortega and the defense kept the game close until the Centaurs create some offense of their own in the top of the sixth. Jay Sterner and Daniel Hennessy each managed to get on and score on a sacrifice fly by Juan Alcala and another sacrifice by Kelvin Murillo.
Nate Matthews took the mound with a 2-1 lead but an infield error, a single and a walk loaded the bases for the Saxons. This set the stage for a wild pitch, a single and two fielder’s choices bringing in four runs, spelling the end for the Centaurs.
Graham concluded, “Our pitchers did very well throwing strikes but we didn’t produce offensively and give them any runs to work with. And we didn’t make the key plays in the field that would have completely changed the outcome. We were disappointed as we knew we were capable of beating them.”
Culver City now proceeds to defend its 2012 Ocean League Baseball Championship. Centaur Coach Rick Prieto is confident. “I’ve made it known from day one: we are the Ocean League defending champions. I expect an Ocean League championship again this year.
“That’s what we expect and that’s our goal. If we keep playing and working as hard as we have been up to this point we have a great chance of doing it.”
Prieto also expects the league to be a formidable challenge. “I’m very familiar with Santa Monica. They’re returning their whole team except one starting pitcher. They are the team to beat on paper.
‘Every year Beverly Hills is going to come out and play good baseball and if you don’t play well they’re going to beat you. They are consistent across the board with their pitching, their hitting and their defense.”
“Morningside and Inglewood, their programs are not as strong as they have been in the past but then again if you don’t come out and play there’s a good chance that they will beat you.
“ Hawthorne is kind of similar to Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. Coach Hines has a lot of returning players and a couple of good pitchers. It’s going to be a dogfight. I don’t see any team walking through Ocean League this year.”
Prieto didn’t forget his trusted coaches, “I have Coach Sterling Roux (Catching/Hitting) coming in for the first time this year but he's been at Peninsula the last three years and Coach Ron Ozaki (Pitching) has been with me for 17 years.”
The Centaurs’ 2013 varsity roster consists of four seniors: (P/ OF) Nate Matthews, (OF) Jon Im, (1B) Juan Alcala and (CF) Tim Stewart; five juniors: (SS) Darian Sylvester, (P) Jake Wells, (1B) Junior Rodenbusch, (C/3B) Daniel Hennessy and (UTIL) Moises Amador; six sophomores: (C) David Ko, (P/UTIL) Louis Ortega, (OF) Max Akita, (P/1B/OF) Jay Sterner, (OF) Thomas Graham and (P) Eli Bowie; and two freshman: (2B) Michael Netzel and third (3B/UTIL) Kelvin Murillo.