Culver Baseball Wins First Two League Games

The 2016 Culver City High baseball team is off to a 2-0 start in Ocean League action by sweeping Lawndale High in the season opening home-and-away series, 10-1 and 3-1.

The Centaurs continued their modest four-game winning streak at high noon on Saturday, April 16 when the Centaurs took care of the visiting Salesian High Mustangs from Los Angeles, 8-2.

The pitching staff has been dead-on all season. They have yet to yield more than two runs in any game throwing at home. They have only given up 32 runs in 17 games to date. Supporting such numbers is a solid veteran defense.

"We haven't had a lot of chances to pitch our guys who participated Saturday: Jason Zeidman and Matty Paspalis. It was nice to see them out there. Every opportunity we get we're going to send them out there and they did a great job," said head coach Rick Prieto after the latest win.

Salesian scored a two-out unearned run in the first inning. Culver took the lead for good in the bottom of the first inning. Mason Mulvihill led off with a single. Two outs later cleanup hitter Mike Netzel's high pop single drove in Mulvihill from third base.

Nolan Martinez virtually sealed the game with a towering triple to the wall scoring Netzel. Eli Saucedo scored in the second inning on an RBI single from Kelvin Murillo.

Senior Mason Mulvihill and freshman Mason Le both scored in the fifth inning. Le also had an RBI double while Tomas Saucedo had an RBI single. Martinez, Jacob Steiner and Eli Saucedo scored the last three runs.

Coach Prieto: "Mason Le is a freshman that we invited to participate in the tournament with us over Spring Break. Due to opportunities he's gotten a chance to play and he's hitting over .400 now."

The team has 20 players on the roster following a very tough 15-game non-league tournament schedule that opened the season. Pre-league play against the area's top teams in rated tournaments has served the Centaur baseball program well in preparing for the Ocean League.

"One of the points I made to the guys after the St. John Bosco game once we completed the tournament, and it's very important, was that we played three Division I schools in that tournament," said Prieto.

"We hung in there and competed with the big boys. We were only one hit away from winning those ballgames. I wanted them to take a positive experience from that tournament because we played some of the best teams.

"We also expect our role players to perform when given the opportunity. That's why we emphasize a purpose in practice. Even if a player is not a starter they still have to work hard enough as if they are a starter because they don't know when that opportunity is going to come."

Winning the Ocean League is the team's primary objective right now. Culver's 10-1 home opening win began immediately in the first inning with a Mulvihill single, a Sterner walk and a Netzel single. Mulvihill scored on a sacrifice fly by Eli Saucedo. Sterner scored on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Weiner.

Sterner scored again in the third inning before the Centaur bats unloaded for four runs in the fourth inning. Singles by Le and Jacob Weiner, a fielder's choice by Murillo and a walk by Justin Weiner loaded the bases for Mulvihill. And he delivered.

Mulvihill nailed a shot to drive in all three runs with a triple. Netzel singled him in for a 7-1 lead. Meanwhile, Eli Saucedo and Daniel Aceves handcuffed the Lawndale batters, allowing only three hits for the entire game.

Two days later Martinez, Aceves and Hunter Hutchinson threw in the 3-1 win at Lawndale. Starting, Martinez struck out six Cardinals and allowed one hit in four innings. Aceves successfully worked out of a jam in the fifth inning. Hutchinson allowed one run on two hits before retiring the last four batters on ground balls.

Prieto: "Our pitchers are still not in quite the shape they will be probably the next time around. They don't have the innings logged yet but they're getting them in and look how well they're doing."

"At Lawndale we had one obstacle, which was the wind. We hit the ball very hard but their center fielder made three ESPN-type plays. And their second baseman and shortstop stole at least one base hit from our guys. But we did hit the ball well"

"We have to hit in bunches, though. We have to make sure when Mason Mulvihill starts off that we continue to hit. We have to keep getting all those guys on base so that when our RBI guys come up they can drive them in.

"We have Max Sterner, Michael Netzel and Nolan Martinez. And we have Jacob Weiner and Eli Saucedo following. There are a lot of ribbies there. We have good opportunities to score runs and I'm looking forward to it."

Coach concluded: "We're winning ballgames and the games we lost we've competed well. The next two weeks will pretty much set the tone for the Ocean League championship. Playing the top two contenders: El Segundo and Santa Monica, will set the table.

"I'm very optimistic and confident now that we're in league, the experiences and situations will have our players successfully come through the next opportunity they get."


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