Culver City Observer -

Culver Baseball: Three Home Games, All shutouts

 

March 17, 2016

Fred Altieri

Another Centaur home victory shutout

Home field advantage Centaur-style is the order of things so far for Culver City High baseball 2016. Flashing classic home white uniforms with 'Centaurs' splashed in blue cursive across their chests, the boys have yet to yield a run in all three games played at Centaur Field this season.

Their latest victim: Garfield High as Culver shut them out 9-0 on Saturday, March 12 before a very lively home crowd that included a number of professional baseball scouts. Centaur right-handed ace Nolan Martinez did not disappoint them as he recorded four shutout innings for the win.

"The last Saturday I pitched I felt good and this Saturday I felt even better. It may be a Saturday thing. Our team's hitting the ball well and we're scoring runs. The run support is the best thing," said an appreciative Martinez.

"Last season our new batting cages were undergoing construction so we didn't have as many opportunities to work on our hitting. This year Coach Prieto is having us do a lot of hitting drills. That's a big reason why we're putting a lot of runs on the board."

Culver jumped on the Bulldogs in the bottom of the first inning with five runs. Mason Mulvihill singled, Max Sterner singled and Michael Netzel walked to load the bases for designated hitter Eli Saucedo who promptly singled home two runs.

Ryan Weiner drove home Netzel with a fielder's choice. Kelvin Murillo walked. Jacob Weiner drove both home with a clutch two-out double. The game was practically sealed after one inning.

Martinez continued his early season mastery by striking out eight Garfield batters in the first three innings. He yielded no hits, three groundballs and two walks while facing 14 batters.

"I strike out a lot of batters with my curveball. I've finally figured out the curveball. My changeup has gotten some to hit groundballs. With my fastball I've gotten swings and misses. I think my three-pitch combination is working," stated Martinez.

"I've been striking out more batters this year. A big factor is that my fastball has gained more speed coming into this year. The way I approach the batters depends on the batter and the team. If the team is really good then I set the batters up. If I'm facing a weaker team then I just try to strike everybody out."

Culver City scored three more runs in the second inning. Mulvihill led off with a two-strike single and Sterner followed with his second single. Netzel brought both of them home with a triple. Saucedo singled. Ryan Weiner singled. The Centaurs led 8-0 after two innings.

Hunter Hutchinson singled and scored Culver's final run in the fourth inning. Then head coach Rick Prieto brought in his role players for the final three innings. Joe Perez took over center field and also singled at bat.

Matt Paspalis came in at shortstop and also singled. Matt Stewart took over second base. Jason Zeidman pinch-hit for Martinez. Matt Rummelsburg took over catching duties from Jake Weiner. It was a complete team victory.

Martinez: "Our pitchers are also doing very good. We haven't given up that many hits this year. That's due to our pitching depth."

Sterner, a southpaw, relieved Martinez in the fifth inning and struck out three batters. Andrew Calo, a righty, relieved Sterner in the sixth inning. With a Garfield runner on third base and one out Calo got out of the jam by getting a flyout to short center field and a third-to-first base groundout.

Zeidman, a lefty, relieved Calo in the seventh inning. He retired all three batters, the last two on strikeouts. That secured Culver's three game consecutive shutout streak at home. They opened the season by beating Marshall High 11-0 and Roosevelt High 4-0 the previous week.

Baseball scouts have been showing up with regularity this season to observe Martinez, a senior who has committed to play at San Diego State this coming fall. Coincidentally, a road game at Granada Hills High last week showcased him pitching against his good friend.

"There were a lot of scouts at the Granada Hills game because my friend Chris Murphy and I pitched. We both have the same pitching coach. We have a nice little competition going, too," laughed Martinez.

"It was fun because I always used to pitch with him and never against him. We were on the Area Code team together, the GBG team and the Brewers Scout team. It was a cool experience."

Unfortunately Culver lost the tough 3-2 contest to Granada Hills after taking a two-run lead in the top of the third inning. Daniel Aceves and Murillo both walked. Netzel drove them home with a two-out single.

Granada Hills responded with three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Despite the loss Martinez struck out nine batters in four innings. The Centaurs overall record stands at 4-2 after six games.

Martinez took two months off from pitching during the winter as part of his preparation for this season. "Coach Prieto is trying to save my arm for the league games so I can maybe go the full length in those games. The current workload is fine. It's not too much, it's not too little."

Fred Altieri

Nolan Martinez prepares to drive one

Catcher Jacob Weiner has also been a factor in Martinez' success the past two seasons. "Coach Prieto made us throwing partners this year. So we've been playing catch and throwing bullpen. I definitely feel comfortable with him behind the plate when I'm pitching," said Martinez.

He concluded with some clear and amusing thoughts on being scouted: "I really don't feel any extra pressure when the baseball scouts are watching me. It's kind of weird. I just block it out."

"For instance, when I'm pitching on the mound and all the scouts are behind the backstop, I don't see any of them. I just throw like I normally would with no one there. I'm just trying to get the guy out."

"I don't really pay attention to them. If they say "Hi" to me I'll say "Hi" back. I think of them as parents."

 

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