By Mitch Chortkoff
Sports Editor 

‘Small Ball’ Leads To Samohi Championship


Cody Decker is the all-time home run leader in Santa Monica High baseball, which is no surprise since he previously had become the all-time home run leader in the Santa Monica Little League.

He went on to UCLA, where he led the Pac-10 Conference in home runs.

Presently he’s in the San Diego Padres’ farm system and he hit 32 home runs one year in the Double-A Texas League.

But it’s been seven years since Decker graduated from Samohi and nobody faintly resembling his ability to hit homers has emerged.

One season then-head coach Rob Duron brought the concept of Small Ball to his players. They weren’t happy because most teen-age ballplayers want to swing away. But Duron showed them statistics outlining their lack of power in early season non-league games. The evidence was clear.

With Small Ball that Viking team won the Ocean League championship.

Now it’s a new season with a new coach and Kurt Schwengel came to a similar conclusion after the Vikings went 10-10 in non-league games. It was time for Small Ball.

I saw several Viking games after that. A single, maybe another or an infield hit advancing the runner, some well-executed bunts, then outstanding pitching and defense.

The Vikings went 10-0 in the Ocean League,. When both Santa Monica and defending Ocean League champion Culver City brought 8-0 league records into their showdown two-game series last week the Vikings won Tuesday’s game, 3-1 and followed with a 7-4 victory on Thursday.

Alex Turner is Samohi’s best offensive threat. The centerfielder with impressive ability hit three doubles in Thursday’s game. That’s doubles, not home runs.

With Turner frequently on base and likely to steal, Small Ball is set in motion.

Samohi didn’t hit a home run in either game.

Schwengel admits his players weren’t excited to the change to Small Ball but they’ve liked the results.

And now the Vikings are going to the CIF playoffs as league champs.

Alex Gironda pitched Tuesday’s win. On Thursday Connor Greene came out after one inning due to a leg injury. Ryan Barbarin took over. The football quarterback recorded seven strikeouts.

The Westside has the best Ocean League baseball teams. Santa Monica has won three of the last four championships. Culver City won the other.


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