Redondo Ends Culver's Baseball Season

All good things must pass. Culver City High's 2016 CIF Playoff aspirations were dismantled on the road in one inning as the Centaurs lost 9-2 to the reigning Division 3 Champion Redondo Union Sea Hawks on Friday, May 27.

Redondo this qualified for the division's championship game against Woodbridge.

The game featured two of the nation's top high school pitching prospects: Culver's Nolan Martinez and Redondo's Sean Reynolds. The Centaurs were riding a 15-game winning streak while the Sea Hawks carried a dominating 28-2 record into the game.

Things were quiet after the first inning when Martinez struck out the last two batters with runners on first and second base. Culver threatened but failed to take the lead in the top of the second when Jacob Weiner singled and advanced to second base on Ryan Weiner's sacrifice bunt.

"We had our at-bats but then again we faced a good pitcher who was able to get us out early on. We lost opportunities: scoring first in this game would have been huge," began Centaur head coach Rick Prieto.

"Reynolds throws a lot of fastballs but he does have a nice curveball. He kept us off-balance though we did get a few hits and ended up scoring two runs. You have to take your hat off to the guy. He threw well."

The bottom literally fell out for Culver in the second inning when Redondo scored all nine of their runs in the game. Incredibly, the Centaurs were a few steps shy of getting out of the inning without relinquishing a single run.

Prieto: "Redondo led off with a double and a single. The third batter walked, so they had bases loaded and no outs. Their ninth batter grounded to Nolan. He went to home for the first out and Jacob, playing catcher, threw it to Max Sterner playing first base for the second out.

"The double play gave us two outs with their runners on second and third. Then their best hitter came to the plate and we intentionally walked him to load the bases.

"Reynolds came up and on the first pitch hit a hard shot right at Max Sterner playing first base. Max squared up slightly to his left, fielded a one hopper and then slipped. It turned into a footrace but by the time he got to first base the runner had beaten him.

"So it was 1-0, Redondo. It kind of floodgated after that: a walk, a base hit and a home run. In hindsight the score could have been 0-0 going into the third inning if everything would have materialized."

Redondo sent 15 batters to the plate in the second inning with seven hits, one home run, one double and six walks. Coach Prieto eventually brought in Sterner to relieve for Martinez during the inning as Martinez moved to first base.

"Max finished the game pitching. He did very well. He gave up one hit but no runs as those runs were already in position when he came in to relieve Nolan," said Prieto.

Despite the deficit Culver was determined to go down swinging. They managed to score a run in each of the next two innings. Kelvin Murillo reached first on an error in the third inning and scored on Sterner's single. But scoring opportunities were missed as two runners were stranded.

Martinez hit a double in the fourth inning and scored on an infield error to make the score 9-2. The Centaurs threatened again in the fifth when Sterner singled and Mike Netzel walked. Again two runners were stranded.

In the seventh inning Mason Mulvihill doubled on a deep shot to center field, reached third base on a ground out but never made it home. Culver's season is officially over but the team's impressive season cannot be denied.

"No question it was a successful season. The boys had an outstanding season but more importantly I do believe the camaraderie and the character they showed on the field and at practice, the tremendous commitment to buying into the program and working everyday as hard as they did was a huge success for the program," concluded Prieto.

"For us to come back from a 13-16 record last year to 21-8 this season and to have an undefeated 10-0 Ocean League title is outstanding. In all the years I've been coaching, I've had some teams battle... and a lot of credit to those teams.

"But I've never had a team battle to the end like this year's team did and told the guys how proud I am of them for everything they showed."


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