Culver City Observer -

The Season Ends: Culver Baseball Coach Praises His Players

Sports Editor


Fred Altieri

Centaurs celebrate non-league win over Kennedy in May

The Culver City High 2017 varsity baseball season finally came to an end roughly 170 miles up the scenic Pacific Coast Highway on Thursday, May 18, in Santa Maria, located in northwest Santa Barbara County. The Centaurs lost 2-1 to the highly ranked Righetti High Warriors in a CIF Division 3 Playoff game.

Culver rallied for one run in the seventh inning but came up short against Warrior ace Matt Sauer. Righetti scored both of its runs in the second inning off of Centaur starter Eli Saucedo who pitched a bullish complete game while striking out six batters. The Centaurs were eliminated after having won their opening playoff game for the second consecutive season.

"Righetti was polled one or two in Division 3 of the CIF so we ran into a top-notch program. They had their number one pitcher out there and a possible first round pick in the upcoming MLB Draft. He reminded me a lot of Nolan Martinez who had played and graduatedfor us last year," said Culver head coach Rick Prieto.

"We battled and took our hacks at their pitcher but didn't have a lot of opportunities to score until the seventh inning. He was good andthrew very hard. He was throwing in the low 90's pretty consistently, had a nice slider and did a great job controlling the strike zone."

In the second inning Righetti had a runner at first base with one out and hit a ground ball that just got by third base. The next batter singled to load the bases. The following batter hit a double down the right field line to score two runs.

A strikeout and a flyball to the third baseman ended the inning. Saucedo and the defense shut down the Warriors for the remainder of the game to keep the Centaurs within reach. But Righetti's tough pitching and defense matched the Culver's same strengths to win the day.

Coach Prieto: "Eli pitched the whole game for us and did an outstanding job. I was so proud of his bulldog mentality. He did give up 11 hits but as they say: he bent a little but didn't break. I would say he had four or five strikeouts.

"Bobby Capa got the first hit for Culver City in the sixth but the Centaurs made their push in the next and final inning. Max Sterner led off the inning with a walk. Matthew Rummelsburg followed with a base hit.

"I sacrificed them over to see if we could get some at-bats to score two or more runs. Eli Saucedo came up and hit a shot to left field that was drifting toward the line. Their right fielder made a nice catch," said Prieto.

"We tagged up at third and scored to make it 2-1. The runner at second stayed to not get thrown out at third for the third out. Unfortunately we battled but struck out to end the game. We were a hit away from tying the game and possibly two hits away from taking the lead. We played them inning for inning, pitch for pitch."

The Centaurs finished the season second place in the Ocean League with a 7-3 record and an overall 13-15 record. They scored a total of 128 runs during the season and gave up the same amount of runs. They advanced to play Righetti by beating Oxnard High 3-2 in 11 innings at home two days earlier.

"All year long we pretty much played consistent baseball. Offensively, we didn't score as much as I would have liked to have. But defensively and pitching, it really came on. We had some timely hitting to win some ball games from the league on until the big game against Oxnard," said Prieto.

"That was an outstanding effort by both teams. Fortunately for us we got the last run to win it in the bottom of the 11th inning. Both teams did well and after the seventh inning either team could have won that ball game.

"The team's confidence carried over into the playoffs. The boys felt real comfortable and had an excellent practice prior to the playoffs. So we got a lot done in a short period of time but the bottom line is that they came to play on that Thursday against Righetti."

The team suffered injuries from the beginning of the season but were able to make adjustments and bring a few ballplayers up to the varsity level. Bobby Capa and Andrew Olmeda really helped and were a big part of a successful run in league. "They both contributed quite a bit offensively, defensively and just made us stronger when guys went down," said Prieto.

There were also accolades off the field for many of the team's 10 seniors. On Tuesday, May 23, Culver City High held its annual Senior Athletic Awards Banquet.

The Senior Athletic Awards Banquet is a special night for the student athletes, seniors who worked many years in the classroom academically and on the field athletically and enjoyed their four years in school.

Including the recognition they and other school's student athletes received: the Jerry Chabola Award for their character and commitment to excellence, the Dave Sanchez Award for the academic athletes with a 3.5 GPA or better, the Thomas Hart Award and the Beth Nimmons Award, two special Culver City High alumni who passed away at an early age.

"Those Awards are very special and have been going on for years. We had quite a few baseball players that received awards. I was proud of all my senior student athletes," added Prieto.

Fred Altieri

Centaurs celebrate 11-inning playoff win over Oxnard

Max Sterner received three awards. Justin and Ryan Weiner, Jason Zeidman, Matthew Paspalis, Daniel Aceves, Eli Saucedo and Donovan Haase also received awards for their academic and athletic excellence.

Prieto concluded: "For the seniors, this is a special group because they came through my baseball camp when they were young. I had the opportunity to coach them throughout the four years at the high school level."

"I've had hundreds of my kids graduate from our high school program who have come through our Fundamentals of Baseball camp. It's just an unbelievable experience that I meet them at eight or nine years of age and then the next thing I know they're graduating in a couple of weeks to start a whole new chapter in life."


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