Culver Baseball: Undefeated League Champion

Momentum combined with continuity and execution is a beautiful thing to behold. For the first time in years the Culver City High Centaurs swept the Ocean League with a 10-0 record as they shut out Beverly Hills High twice last week.

The Centaurs are now on a 13-game winning streak after compiling a 6-7 record in their first 13 games of the year. A tough preseason schedule was obviously effective in preparing the team to accomplish one of their primary goals before the season began: the 2016 Ocean League title.

Culver beat the Normans 7-0 on Senior Day at home on Tuesday, May 10 and again two days later at La Cienega Park in Beverly Hills, 3-0.

By winning the league championship the Centaurs will host a first-round CIF playoff game this Friday, May 20.

The Culver pitching staff supported by a smothering defense once again dissected the Beverly hitters, extinguished the few rallies while taking the lead early in both games. Remarkably, the Centaurs only gave up nine runs in their 10 league games including five shutouts.

Eli Saucedo pitched a 7-inning, 6-strikeout gem in the series opener against Beverly. He retired 12 consecutive batters after giving up a first-inning double, scattered five hits and allowed no walks. It was Saucedo's first complete game shutout as a Centaur.

The Culver batters scored immediately. Mason Mulvihill walked and stole second base to lead off the bottom of the first inning. Max Sterner reached first base on an error. Mike Netzel blasted a triple to drive in both runners. He then scored on Jacob Weiner's sacrifice fly.

Netzel had a stellar season at the plate. He not only led his team, he led the Ocean League in many batting categories: Homeruns – 2, Slugging Pct - .837, RBI's – 27, Triples – 9. He finished 2nd in batting average at .449 and 5th in both runs scored with 20 and on base percentage at .494.

Netzel drove in Sterner with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0 in the third inning. Culver closed scored their last three more runs in the fourth inning. With two outs Daniel Aceves reached first on an error. Kelvin Murillo was hit by a pitch. Mulvihill singled. Sterner tripled. Voila!... Game sealed.

Nolan Martinez started the game at Beverly Hills and pitched five innings for his fifth league victory this season tying him with Saucedo for the most wins in the league. He threw 10 strikeouts, fanning over half of the Beverly batters he faced while allowing only one hit.

Martinez also led the Ocean League in strikeouts with 72 and overall season wins with seven. He and Saucedo dominated league batters with the top two ERA's: 0.58 and 0.65 respectively. Combined in league games, they allowed only 7 earned runs in 81 innings pitched.

Triples played a prominent role in the Culver scoring. The Centaurs made it 1-0 in the top of the second inning when Ryan Weiner singled and scored on Martinez' triple high off the center field fence.

Two innings later Jacob Weiner led off with a triple. Ryan Weiner walked. Martinez hit a sacrifice fly driving in Jacob. Ryan scored on a passed ball to complete the scoring.

Jacob Weiner also added a double to his triple and run scored while Ryan Weiner added a sacrifice to go along with two runs scored to lead the Culver offense. Sterner threw two innings in relief with two strikeouts for the save.

The Centaurs swarmed onto the infield after the game's final out to celebrate their perfect season. A few minutes later they congratulated head coach Rick Prieto with a perfectly-timed water cooler drenching followed by a well-deserved group hug.

Culver City scored a total of 64 runs in 10 league games. They scored 146 in 26 regular season games while only allowing a total of 43 runs. Their success this season is no coincidence. It is a team led by a special group of eight seniors who have played together since Little League.

The seniors with their respective uniform numbers and positions: Mason Mulvihill (2) Outfielder; Tomas Saucedo (3) Outfielder; Kelvin Murillo (7) Shortstop; Mike Netzel (8) Outfielder, Third Base; Joe Perez (9) Outfielder; Hunter Hutchinson (19) Pitcher; Nolan Martinez (21) Pitcher, First Base, Outfielder; Jacob Weiner (55) Catcher.

Culver City is now ready to accomplish its ultimate goal: to win the 2016 CIF Division III Baseball Championship. The team last won a playoff game in 2012 when they beat Eastside High of Lancaster 1-0 in a first-round matchup.

Culver went deep into the playoffs the previous season by reaching the CIF Semifinals in 2011 before losing a 2-1 heartbreaker at Woodbridge High in Irvine.

The Centaurs will host a first-round game this Friday, May 20.


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