Young Culver Baseball Team Starts Fast

Despite fielding the youngest team in a number of years the 2018 Culver City High baseball team is off to a nice start. Behind a one-hitter the Centaurs took care of Campbell Hall High, 6-0, in the fourth game of the Southern California Invitational Tournament to improve its early season record to 3-1.

Having won their first two games of the tournament, the Centaurs lost their first game of the season at Granada Hills Charter, 8-3, last Thursday, March 1. It was a two-run ballgame until the Highlanders scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Culver City has nine games remaining before Ocean League action begins in April.

Centaur freshman Adrian Montenegro pitched six innings of one-hit ball against Campbell Hall. He struck out two, walked one batter and only pitched to one batter over the minimum through six innings. It was his second win of the season in two starts. Senior Bobby Capa relieved in the seventh inning, retiring the side in order including two strikeouts.

It was a scoreless tie through three innings in Tuesday's afternoon game against Campbell Hall before the Centaurs scored two in the bottom of the fourth inning. Joaquin Hines and Mason Le both opened the inning with a single, stole a base and scored a run. Andrew Olmeda had a sacrifice fly RBI.

"It was a pitchers' duel for a little while," said Culver Head Coach Rick Prieto. Campbell Hall only had one hit in the second inning. Freshman Adrian Montenegro started for us was right on. He's pretty much going to be our starter."

"Campbell Hall's pitcher, I believe, is going to Rice. He's a senior and threw fairly hard," It was 0-0 after three. We were able to put a bunt situation on to move some runners over. A hit here and a hit there allowed us to score some runs."

Catcher James Roque walked in fifth inning, was replaced by pinch-runner Oliver Frye who scored on and RBI double by freshman Mason Kim to make the score 3-0. Culver added three more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. A double by Le, a sacrifice bunt by Montenegro, Olmeda got hit by a pitch and a Capa RBI single accounted for the runs.

Offensively, the Centaurs had six hits in 21 at bats, two walks, eight strikeouts and two hit batters. L e and Hines each had two hits while Kim and Capa had one hit and an RBI each. Culver's pitching retired 11 Viking batters on groundballs, six on flyouts, struck out four and walked one. They retired the last 13 consecutive batters to end the game.

Culver played a veteran team in the loss to Granada Hills Charter. Besides having an impressive looking ball field they also have Coach Matt Matuszak whom Coach Prieto is very familiar with. "I had a chance to visit Coach prior to the game. He worked for the San Francisco Giants organization as a groundskeeper."

"Last year I attended a coaches convention in Anaheim. He was there along with the head groundskeeper from AT&T. It was great to talk to him about field maintenance in general. So it was kind of nice to play at his field. I saw a lot of good things. It's a beautiful field."

"They're a seasoned team, senior and junior dominant. The game was 2-0 going into the third inning. They had runners at second and third and Coach put a squeeze play on which was successful. My first baseman and pitcher both charged the ball but we were late covering first and the throw was a little behind."

"So they were able to get the second guy in, too, to score. And that was pretty much it. Then we came back and scored two with runners on second and third, still 4-2. We weren't able to cash in."

The Centaur bats connected on seven hits in 29 at bats and drove in all three runs. Designated hitter Nick Lucero had two hits and scored a run. Roque and Tanner Duve each had a hit and a run scored. Dylan Singh and Le also singled while Capa drove in two runs in the sixth inning with a double.

"We started Olmeda, a senior, against Granada Hills. And it's really his first time pitching in his four years here at Culver City High School. Benny (Mosqueria) pitched and threw fairly well for 3 2/3 innings. He kept them to two runs, so that was great," said Prieto.

Currently the Centaurs' strongpoint is their defense. The pitching is good but very inexperienced in terms of playing this caliber of baseball. Yet the program was able to bring the current roster together last summer playing a lot of games against quality programs. The potential for this young team is already apparent.

"So we're trying to mix and match right now. And we're trying to protect the arms, still. We're 40 to 60, 40 at the low end and 60 at the top right now for pitch count. As we get closer to league then we're going to let them go."

"Our players are young in age but a lot of them have played club baseball. A lot of them have been involved in showcases. In terms of preparation away from high school most if not all have been involved in some kind of outside program... which I think is going to help us down the line."


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