A Win Over Santa Monica Boosts Culver's Hopes
May 4, 2017
Any sporting event between Culver City High and Santa Monica High is the definition of intense competition. Nothing epitomizes this more than the annual two-game home-and-away series between the two Ocean League archrivals on the baseball field.
The 2017 heated series continued as the host Centaurs prevailed 7-2 against the Vikings in Game One on Tuesday afternoon, May 2 at the upgraded and spacious confines at Culver High. The result left both teams tied in the league standings at 5-2 and one game behind El Segundo (6-1) with three games remaining on the schedule.
"We know we have to win from here on out to have a chance to win league. But we really want that playoff berth. Samo has always been a huge rivalry," said Culver All-League senior third baseman and top pitching closer Daniel Aceves.
"I remember coming here with my friends and watching my older brother play for Culver City and how intense the rivalry was. We never take them lightly. They're always going to come out and play. It's always fun. We just want to beat them."
The Centaurs jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. That set the tone and the winning recipe behind the pitching of starter Max Sterner, a stealth defense and a capable offense. Eventually the Vikings
threatened and scored later in the game but couldn't overcome a five-run deficit.
Justin Weiner led off with triple in the bottom of the first inning and was driven in by Andrew Olmeda. Matt Rummelsburg walked and scored on a Ryan Weiner bunt single compounded by a Viking throwing error for the permanent lead.
"It's always important when we go out there and score first. When we jump out ahead we have the momentum and shut them down. When we have our ace up there the best thing we can do is get ahead and give him some support," said Aceves.
"Culver City has always been a pitching team. Every year, we put up two runs and we'll win a 2-1, 2-0 ballgame. Defense and pitching is huge and Coach Prieto has instilled that in us since we were freshmen."Santa Monica put runners on in each of the next three innings but Sterner stretched out the Viking hits while the defense stifled any rallies.
The Centaurs added three more runs in the fourth inning. Eli Saucedo scored on a double by Bobby Capa. Following walks to Aceves and Justin Weiner, Capa and Aceves scored on an infield error for a 5-0 lead.
The persistent Vikings finally broke through with two runs in the top of the fifth inning. They managed to load the bases with no outs on a passed ball strikeout and two walks. An infield error gave them their first run still with no outs. After Sterner struck out the next batter the defense came to the rescue.
Capa caught a flyout in right field and relayed the ball to the infield.Several bang-bang tosses from Saucedo at first base to Ryan Weiner at shortstop stunted the Viking rally but not before another run crossed the plate to bring Santa Monica within striking distance withtwo innings to play.
Aceves: "Really defense is first. That's huge in our program and one of our biggest focuses. We really like our field. We're used to taking groundballs every single day with Coach Prieto. The infield's actually the best I've felt in my four years here.
"There are new guys out there. We've had to deal with injuries but we're ready for the occasion by taking tons of ground balls every week. Max and Eli always come out and do their best. The defense is always behind them and it's been that way for my entire four years playing here."
The Centaurs added two insurance runs in the sixth inning. Saucedo singled and scored on a two-out single by Justin Weiner. Olmeda followed with a single, driving in Justin with his second RBI of the game. Culver totaled seven runs on seven hits, walked four times and committed one error for the game. Santa Monica scored two runs on five hits and committed three errors.
The rivals will meet again on Thursday afternoon at Santa Monica High to decide the series and virtually secure a CIF Playoff spot and a chance to take the Ocean League Title. The Centaurs finish up league with a two-game series with Beverly Hills High while the Vikings take on El Segundo in a pair next week.
"On Thursday at Samo we have to go out and do the same thing. It's just as big. We don't want a repeat of El Segundo where we came out and beat them at our house and then went over there and just got routed. So we really need to stay humble, stay with the same energy and jump ahead again," finished Aceves.
"Right now we just have to go out and practice hard. It's quality practice, not quantity. But we have to win this Thursday before we win next Tuesday and Thursday. I mean that in the greatest sense because if we get ahead of ourselves a disaster can happen. We need to focus one game at a time.
"Some thing is different about this team. I really can't tell you what. We just really want to win. We're going to be a scary team in the playoffs no matter what seed we are. Max can go out there and shut down any team. Eli can also and showed it last year. If our hitting comes together we'll make a run.